Junction City artist chooses watercolors

December 14, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

JUNCTION CITY - Working in watercolors is a precise endeavor. Despite its difficulty, it's the chosen medium for visual artist Jim Underwood.

"It's hard to control," Underwood says. "The amount of paint and the amount of water have to be just right."

Underwood started painting in 1996 after taking art lessons from A. Jack May, who teaches watercolor, oil and charcoal techniques. He says he liked watercolors but found them "terribly hard."

"You can't correct watercolor," Underwood explains. "You can't paint a lighter color over a darker color. With oils, you can scrape (a mistake off) or paint over it. ... But that's part of the fun of it.

"It's hard to paint two pictures alike because of the way watercolor does."

His home has several of his watercolors on the walls, and he has others for sale. There's a painting of a store that was in Mercer County, next to Bethel Baptist Church, before it was bulldozed. There's the bird in the window of another painting; Underwood added in color to make it look interesting, he says. Flowers are bestsellers.


Farms and barns frequently show up in his works. He also has done paintings of his grandson's favorite baseball teams' caps with logos. A spring house with a red door is in another painting. There's the cabin on Roaring Fork Road in the Smoky Mountains, and a cannon and flag from Perryville Battlefield. He has a picture of the Henry Bottom House in Perryville is in the works.

"I will do it with soldiers and cannons," Underwood says.

Underwood drew a lot when he was in school, but put away the brushes and pencils to raise a family while working as a meat cutter at the Kroger in Harrodsburg. He has been there for 29 years.

Now that he's gone back to visual artwork, he's found that his grandsons, ages 6 and 8, like to draw, particularly with pencil.

"They're getting really good," Underwood says proudly, adding he also has a granddaughter who lives in Indiana.

Trips to the Fork

He likes to take his grandsons to the Fork and to the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge several times per year. Often, they draw barns and churches.

Underwood also does pencil drawings and hand-colors black-and-white photographs with a special kind of oil. He enjoys photography.

"(Photography) goes along with watercolor," notes Underwood, a member of Gathering Artists and Danville Art Guild. "You do the painting at home."

He does some of the painting on-sit. His paintings hang in the Jim Gray Gallery in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Kroger and Becca's Perks, both in Harrodsburg, and the Maple Tree Gallery.

Underwood says he keeps "trying different things" with his painting.

"Everything you paint is a little different."

He's tried his hand at a few portraits, but at this time doesn't do them for other people. Underwood does do commissioned work with watercolors, he says.

He also goes to schools and shows the students watercolor techniques. Underwood says he likes it when the kids show particular interest in the visual arts.

The relaxation inherent to painting, for Underwood, is its most positive aspect.

"It takes you away from everything," he explains. "Therapy, you might call it."

One day, he hopes to have his own gallery, when he retires from Kroger.

Central Kentucky News Articles