SOLOMONS — Working as an artist can be rewarding, fulfilling and even frustrating at times, and visitors to Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center’s Artists in Action can find out just what being an artist entails.
Now in its 10th year, the event — which was previously called Living Gallery — encourages would-be artists and enthusiasts to watch, talk to and even get hints from the artists.
“It is so much fun to talk to the guests,” said watercolor artist Ann Preston of Hollywood, who is taking part in the event for the sixth year. “I just love coming here and meeting the people. [I tell people] a lot of [what I do] is just practice, so don’t give up and paper is paper, you just throw it away.”
An art major at the University of Chico, Preston grew up in several states and countries before moving to St. Mary’s County in 2009 to be closer to family.
She has taken a few watercolor classes, but said she is mostly self-taught.
“It’s just paint, paint, paint,” said Preston, who retired in 2007 following a lengthy teaching career.
She paints mostly flowers, fruit, vegetables and buoys; “anything with a lot of color and shapes.”
She takes a lot of photos and will sketch the image onto paper before painting. During her week as an Artist in Action, Preston was painting roses from a photo she had taken at her daughter’s house on the west coast.
Preston sells her work through North End Gallery in Leonardtown.
“I decided to do it because it’s a learning experience,” potter Krista Spalding of Solomons said of her participation in the arts center event. Spalding said she had previously spoken to a group of young people and gave them the advice to “take a class, especially for wheel throw pottery, because there are skills to be learned and practiced.”
Spalding, who grew up in St. Mary’s County and moved to Solomons in 2020, said pottery was a lifelong interest, but only seriously took up the craft since 2018.
“It’s something I’ve always loved,” she said. “I like what it looks like, I like what it feels like.”
She said one piece — she prefers to make functional pottery — can take up to 19 days because of multiple firings and a lengthy drying process.
“It’s a lifelong learning process,” she said. “The creative value is endless.”
She said one of the key qualities a potter must have is patience.
“It’s a learning process, but that’s what keeps it interesting, challenging,” said Spalding, who occasionally gifts her items to family and friends. “As you practice more you see little improvements and some days you see none, but it’s those days of improvements that keep me going.”