BROOKSVILLE — Most watercolor artists would agree that working in their medium is much like being a tightrope walker who performs without a safety net.
There is little, if any, room for error.
Watercolor demands precise, well-planned brushstrokes and color choices. For many artists, especially those prone to flights of creative fancy, it's easy to paint yourself into a corner.
For Brooksville artist Karen Heidler, that need to be both decisive and efficient is what makes watercolors the ultimate artistic endeavor.
"I love the challenge of the process because it fits my personality," Heidler said. "It allows me to explore a part of my soul."
The 36-year-old painter, whose collection of 16 paintings is part of the Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery's winter exhibit, believes that her art gives her a spiritual connection to the world around her. Whether painting a still life of flowers or pastoral scenes of the outdoors, she says her goal is to "imitate the beauty of God's creation."
Born in Hyndman, Pa., Heidler said she was first drawn to art by the illustrations she saw in children's books. After high school, she studied art at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. There, in addition to pursuing her passion, she met her future husband, Joe, who is a pastor at the Brooksville Church of the Nazarene.
Although she considered becoming a book illustrator, Heidler, a mother of three, decided to concentrate her talents on creating more personal art in her home.
"I'm something of a night person," she said. "Once everyone is in bed, that's when I'll go to work."
Heidler says that as her knowledge of the medium has evolved, so have her paintings. Her brushstrokes reveal a bolder, more intricate understanding of the relationship between shadow and light.
"For me, the secret is starting with lighter hues and gradually adding darker shades until I get the effect I'm looking for," she said. "After a while, you can begin to anticipate how the colors are going to lay against each other."
Picking a subject she's enthusiastic about painting also helps. One of Heidler's favorite watercolors, Fishing with Pappy, depicts her daughter, Mallery, wrapped in the arms of Heidler's father as the two of them fish from a pond.
"I enjoy it because it captures two people I love sharing an experience that was special to them," she said. "It was my version of a Norman Rockwell moment. Every time I see it, it makes me happy."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.