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Grace DePollo Watercolor Show and Sale | Saturday, June 7 through June 19 on tour days
Grace DePollo: A Watercolor Retrospective (1975-2014)
Elkins artist Grace DePollo picked up her watercolor brush in earnest in the 1970s. Her daughters were teenagers by then, giving her time to return to a longtime interest in painting. She joined the local Seneca Trail Artists Guild where she befriended such well-known West Virginia watercolor artists as Jim Hartman, Kay Gillespie, Nancy Kittle, Arnold Schultz, Jesse Reed, Ralph Michael and others. It was their example — and enthusiasm — that instilled Grace's love for watercolor painting — and the rest, as they say, is history!
Prior to this, most of her work had been done in oil. But she found she enjoyed the spontaneity of watercolor painting — particularly on location. She learned techniques at the hand of Jim Hartman and Kay Gillespie, and she took many painting expeditions with fellow artists to Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods, which became some of her signature landscape locales for painting. Her technique was also heavily influenced by Hungarian watercolor artist Zolton Szabo. She took several of his watercolor workshops, along with those of many other talented artists, as she honed her skills.
Although Grace was known to paint a still life or beach scene from time to time, her favorite subjects were the natural surroundings of West Virginia. In her public relations job with the WV Department of Highways, she often stopped while traveling West Virginia's back roads to photograph an interesting barn, meadow or flowering shrub as a subject for a future painting.
She was active in the Seneca Trail Artists Guild from 1975 until shortly before her passing in 2015. She served in the various offices of the organization and was one of the coordinators of the annual juried art exhibit as part of the Mountain State Forest Festival for many years. Her own work won a number of awards in the Amateur category at that show.
In fact, she sold her first painting in 1979 at the Forest Festival exhibit, where it won an Honorable Mention. Called "Dolly with the Fog on Top," the painting was done on location at Dolly Sods. She wrote in her painting journal : "It started to rain while we were on location. Picture got wet and created a soft, foggy look. Friends kidded me about getting help from God with the painting."
In addition to awards for her paintings, she was also noted for other artistic achievements. She was honored with the guild's "Paint Brush of the Year" award in May 1979 for her service to the guild as treasurer and working on the Forest Festival art show. Prior to that in 1977, she was selected as the winner in the guild's contest to designa new logo. Her rendition served as the guild logo for many years. Ten years later, another logo she created was chosen to represent the Randolph County Bicentennial.
Her paintings hang in many businesses and homes throughout the Elkins and surrounding areas. She was also commissioned to paint several works for a former local resident.
Grace continued to paint throughout her 81 years, finishing a watercolor of the new St. Brendan Church in Elkins as one of her last pieces in 2014.
Select works and some prints will be offered for sale during the exhibition at Adaland Mansion near Philippi, WV, from June 7-19.