Just because retired Everett dentist Dr. Lee Allen is a science guy doesn’t mean he isn’t creative. In fact, he has been all his life.
The exacting work he did as a dentist flows naturally into the details he executes as an artist.
Allen, 71, a signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society, is one of 50 artists whose watercolor paintings will be shown through December at the Schack Art Center.
The Schack’s Holiday Art Show opens this evening with a reception during the Third Thursday Everett Art Walk. Along with the watercolors, the show also features about 40 artists who work in three dimensions, such as jewelry, glass, ceramic, wood and other sculptural media.
Kristi Galindo Dyson, the watercolor society’s exhibition chairman, is pleased with the selection of works by members.
“Overall the show is diversified and very strong with great examples of what is possible to achieve in water media,” she said. “And it is wonderful art for a holiday show.”
Most of the participating society members are from the Pacific Northwest region, including British Columbia, while others are from as far away as the East Coast and Hong Kong, Dyson said.
For Allen, as well as fellow participating artists Joan Pinney of Snohomish and Molly LeMaster of Camano Island, it’s wonderful to have this society show at the Schack.
“It’s fabulous to have this premiere exhibition in Everett,” Allen said. “The Schack’s Josey Wise is a master. She knows how to hang a show.”
The Northwest Watercolor Society was founded in 1939 in Seattle when a group of eight artists came together to form an organization dedicated to the celebration of watercolor. From these modest beginnings, the society has grown into an internationally recognized organization with a membership nearing 900 members across the United States, Canada and beyond. To be a signature member of the society, an artist has to have been accepted into two Waterworks Exhibitions and one Annual International Open Exhibition, or two Annual International Open Exhibitions.
By requiring the exhibitions for artists who want to add Northwest Watercolor Society to their signatures, the quality of the watercolor medium has been elevated, Allen said.
“Entering juried exhibits was all new to me when I started,” he said.
Allen retired from his practice at 35th and Hoyt about 10 years ago. He started painting watercolors about 25 years ago.
“For the past 15 years, it’s been practice, practice,” he said. “When I was still working, I would get up at 5 a.m. to paint for an hour.”
Allen grew up in the Midwest, and discovered at age 5 that he had a gift for drawing. Using typing paper and pencils, he began to teach himself form and shading.
“It wasn’t until dental school that I began to use color,” he said. “A medical illustrations instructor offered a beginning oils class, and I learned to mix paint for color.”
Allen met his wife, Sheila, when he was in dental school and she in nursing school. After a visit to Washington state one beautiful April, the couple decided to move here. Their three grown sons have been subjects of Allen’s artwork for decades.
“I really got into watercolors when we were just starting into veneers in dentistry,” he said. “Teeth are not purely white. They are violet, yellow and other shades. I enjoyed learning about blended colors.”
He was encouraged by his friend Helen Hopkins to take watercolor lessons from Michele Cooper. Later he studied with Arne Westerman, Charles Reid, Alex Powers and Jeannie McGuire.
“At first I painted landscapes and flowers. Safe content,” Allen said. “It took awhile to get to the point where people would recognize my work. Watercolors require planning, but that planning does not preclude creativity.”
While most watercolorists are modern impressionists, Allen calls himself a photo realist.
One of his current works is a watercolor of Washington Pass in the North Cascades. It is being painted in three sections that eventually will total 8-feet wide. Using rolls of paper is great for such productions, Allen said.
The artist also enjoys working in charcoal, fused glass, powder print glass and bronze.
“I like all media and still enjoy black and white, but I love watercolor,” he said. “Some of my work makes use of what is called pouring the watercolor. Some of it is what Andrew Wyeth called dry point. Now that watercolor comes in tubes, it’s easy to do both.”
Allen encourages budding art collectors to attend the show at the Schack.
“Go, get to know an artist’s work and then follow them.”
Schack Art Center Holiday Art Show
Free exhibit, Nov. 16 through Dec. 31, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett. Opening reception is 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 16. Regular daily hours, except noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 24 and noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. Closed Nov. 23 and Dec. 24-26.
Exhibit visitors will receive 10 percent off any art purchases when they visit the Schack on Thursdays between Nov. 30 and Dec. 28.
A list of participating artists and more information is available at schack.org/exhibits or by calling 425-259-5050.