We at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop want to celebrate our visual arts friends this summer with a peek into their work or studio spaces on Instagram. We are curious about the spaces and rituals that give rise to creation. Do folks leave home to go work in a studio, or clear a corner of the kitchen table? Is the creative space a physical one, or perhaps a set of tools that signal it’s time to make art. Read the full length features and follow us on Instagram @chawindc to meet and learn about some of our favorite, local artists.

First up is CHAL member and watercolorist Tara Hamilton. 

I joined the Capitol Hill Art League shortly after I began taking art lessons at CHAW. My teacher was the wonderful watercolorist, Gina Clapp, who encouraged and challenged me to “make art”.

Art has been a large part of my life. My grandmother had me draw when I complained of being bored; my mother was an illustrator for Woodward and Lothrop, an iconic department store in D.C, and my sister and her two grown children have professional art careers. I didn’t focus on art until I retired from my career in public affairs. 

I am, stubbornly, a watercolorist. Watercolor is so unpredictable, and a “miss” is often more likely than a “hit”.  I most enjoy the “happy surprise” of water and paint merging just so, to create a beautiful or dramatic image.  

CHAL’s regional show this year was themed “Symbolism” and this is what symbolized the Pandemic year to me.  Watercolor called “2020–The Year”
Finished painting of the Arboretum view, called “Path”

2. Briefly describe your work and/or artistic process.

I like to paint whatever grabs my eye– with a focus on light and dark.  During the pandemic, art grounded me and gave me the time to devote to painting. It is true that the more you do something, you are likely to improve, and I found that nearly daily painting did improve my results. 

This is my office/studio.  A work in progress using a photo of the DC Arboretum.

3. What is your favorite art supply at the moment? Or tell us about a happy accident in your studio. 

I don’t have a studio but I do have a table set up in front of the window in our home office. I have light, both natural and electric, and my laptop is close by when I want to print out photos for reference or keep track of my pieces and shows that I enter. It is important to have a place to have your art and to let your current project be left undisturbed. Sometimes it’s a kick for me just to walk past the door and look at a painting in progress– though it can elicit a smile or a grimace– depending on the level of success.  

During the Pandemic, I seemed to be drawn to the beautiful flowers I saw on my walks and this is one of my larger pieces. A watercolor called “Belladonna Lily”.

A recent painting that was in the Capitol Hill Art League “Happiness” show held at the Frame of Mine shop and gallery on Capitol Hill. This is a watercolor entitled “Essence of Spring”



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