Local artist Kaye Ward remembers enjoying middle school art so much that she still has a few paintings from that class.
Later, she began doing crafting hobbies such as macramé, decoupage, cross stitch and crochet. With cross stitch, she even created her own designs. One of her favorite crafting ideas was using solder to add colored beads and marbles to glass cake plates, which she sold in a local shop.
But working full time left little time or energy for these artistic pursuits. They were pushed aside for years. When Kaye retired in 2000 from 30 years of working at the Medical College of Georgia, she remembered her earlier enjoyment of the arts and began volunteering at Sacred Heart Cultural Center.
Seeing the works of talented artists, spending time with them and getting to know them piqued her interest in painting. One of those artists became a close friend who encouraged her to take up painting and mentored her along the way.
So, with the "luxury of no longer working," Kaye picked up a paintbrush for the first time and began working in the watercolor medium. She took lessons from Jim Gensheer, Linda Baker, Linda Kemp and Michael Pearson, all regionally known art instructors.
Even now, she continues to paint weekly with a group of artists under the direction of Judy Avrett. She enjoys "painting with a group of friends and sharing ideas." Her subjects are varied; anything that "touches an emotion" within her might find its way into her art - an old barn, a weathered rocking chair or even a perfect piece of fruit.
To get feedback from other artists, and to show her works, Kaye joined local art guilds, including the North Augusta Artists Guild (naartistsguild.org). She began entering shows in the area.
She was hooked when one of her first pieces sold at a Gertrude Herbert Art Institute exhibit.
Although the medium is challenging, within three years Kaye became a founding member of a watercolor artist group, Watercolor Women. The group of four women usually has two shows a year, exclusively in the watercolor medium.
Their next exhibit will be at the Sacred Heart Garden Festival, April 21-23. At this event, they will offer originals, glycees, notecards and other items.
Also, for the past several years, the group has been asked to paint during Augusta's Summerville Tour of Homes in October.
Kaye has exhibited work at the Gertrude Herbert Art Institute, the Kroc Center, Midtown Market, Sacred Heart Cultural Center, the North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center, and the Aiken Center for the Arts. Her art is known in Aiken, North Augusta, Augusta, and Columbia County, and she has won several awards locally and regionally.
Her art displays regularly at the Arts and Heritage Center in North Augusta, and at Art After Dark, in Columbia County.