Poster artist paints Edmonds waterfront for arts festival’s 60th

Vibrant color is important in Harold’s watercolors, such as this recent shore scene. A group of her paintings will be exhibited in the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation Gallery during the festival.

Vibrant color is important in Harold’s watercolors, such as this recent shore scene. A group of her paintings will be exhibited in the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation Gallery during the festival.

EDMONDS — Watercolor artist Pamela Harold’s studio is a marvel.

It overlooks Puget Sound, has marvelous natural light and is equipped with every tool a watercolorist could want. Displayed is a collection of Coast Salish and Haida art and the shelves contain her many travel journals, which are chock full of sketches and paintings.

This is where Harold, 84, painted the iconic waterfront scene for this year’s Edmonds Arts Festival poster. The festival is celebrating its 60th year June 16-18 at the Frances Anderson Center on Main Street.

Harold had been honored as the festival poster artist in 1999, so she was “gobsmacked” to learn she was to provide a watercolor for the 60th anniversary.

This is the first time the festival selected the same artist twice to create a painting for the poster, said festival spokeswoman Julaine Fleetwood.

“The festival wished to recognize Pamela’s long-time dedication and service to the Edmonds arts community on the festival’s significant anniversary,” Fleetwood said.

As the poster artist, Harold will have a show in the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation Gallery at Frances Anderson Center through the remainder of June. Prints of the 2017 Edmonds Arts Festival poster will be for sale during the festival and raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to win the original painting.

Edmonds is Harold’s adopted hometown. Her husband, the late Boeing engineer William Harold, brought her to Snohomish County more than 30 years ago.

She served on the Edmonds Arts Commission for eight years, served as a festival juror, taught painting and became a “signature” member of the Northwest Watercolor Society. Locally, her paintings can be found at the Cole Gallery in Edmonds.

Harold’s paintings have won numerous jury awards. Her paintings are part of private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Canada, England and Australia.

Born in the mining country of eastern British Columbia, young Pamela had few resources as a budding artist, save for her coloring books. Her father, a draftsman, taught her the art of perspective and her mother, a weaver, encouraged her artistic interests.

The family also enjoyed the outdoors and nature.

“And their legacy to me was, ‘Look at that.’ So, I have always looked,” Harold said.

At age 15, Pamela was allowed to quit piano lessons in favor of oil painting classes from a neighbor and a stint at the Banff Summer School of the Arts.

“That was the best thing for me,” she said. “I finally felt like I fit in.”

Harold went on to earn a teaching certificate and taught art in British Columbia schools, cementing her passion for arts exploration and education to all ages.

“I hope festivals such as ours in Edmonds continue to help people — especially kids — to appreciate the arts,” she said. “I love encouraging young people, and that’s the mission of the festival foundation.”

A five-month hitchhiking trip through Europe in the 1950s gave her the idea to keep and illustrate travel journals, a habit and tradition her grandchildren are continuing, she said.

During her first marriage and early years as a mother, Harold lived in Nova Scotia where she taught watercolor painting and enjoyed life in a small town.

After returning to Vancouver, she met her second husband on the ski slopes at Whistler.

“He liked the idea of dating an artist, but he was worried I might be someone who would paint a moose on velvet,” Harold said. “I am thankful that Bill supported my art and built a studio for me.”

Bill Harold had been a volunteer with the Edmonds Arts Festival, so he naturally got Pamela involved after their marriage and her move to the city.

Watercolor has always been Pamela Harold’s favorite medium.

“Watercolor is like a chess game,” she said. “You have to plan your moves.”

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