Plein air painter Wyatt Waters had just purchased a 16-foot Casita camper. It was February of 2020 and he had hit the road with his wife, Kristi, to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling the South, documenting what he saw along the way in watercolor and words. Then the pandemic struck. “We were all to ourselves, really,’’ says Waters, “and I felt like God was looking over us, telling us, ‘Well, you better do this.’”
What came out of that journey, two years and 75,000 miles later, was the book Waters had always dreamed of doing: “The Watercolor Road,” a collection of 133 of Waters’ paintings accompanied for the first time by his words. The 21 essays depict both the South and his relentless trek to be a better painter as a mindset rather than a destination.
For Waters, a lifelong artist and Mississippi native, paintings and stories go hand-in-hand. For both, “there is a beginning, a middle and an end. You introduce an idea. You develop an idea. And you bring it to a place — I’m not going to say a conclusion,” says Wyatt. “The people seeing it finish it for themselves.”
Waters’ artistic journey began before he even started school. His mother saw in him a spark of creativity and asked his childhood babysitter, whom he affectionately refers to as Miss Rose, to give him art lessons. Those lessons continued until the Waters family moved from Florence, Mississippi, to Clinton. “At the end of every class, she would say, ‘You can be an artist. You can have a gallery. I love you and I’m praying for you,’” he remembers.
Miss Rose was right. Today, Waters still lives in Clinton where he paints and, when he’s not on the road, runs a gallery. “It was really kind of a positive brainwashing,” he says. “I just thought, ‘Well, I’m going to paint.’ I thought that was a reasonable expectation of doing things.”
But while Miss Rose might have set Waters on the path of artistry, it was at Mississippi College where Waters had a eureka moment. “I just fell in love with watercolor like a pretty girl! You just know that this is it,” he says. “And it wasn’t logical because no one ever sits down with their counselor and the counselor says, ‘Well have you ever considered watercolor?’ It’s not that kind of choice, but it was that way for me. I loved it. And I have never not loved it since that sophomore year.”
Now in his late 60s, Waters says that to him, “seeing and feeling are more important than brushwork,” and that he feels the need to say what painting means to him. In “The Watercolor Road,” he does just that, sharing the many life lessons he’s learned throughout his artistic journey alongside stories that are sometimes humorous, often poignant and always thought-provoking.
“Painting is like a footprint,” he says. “And I don’t worry too much about making good footprints. I try to make a good journey.” Mission accomplished, Wyatt. Mission accomplished.
Wyatt Waters is bringing his book to Mobile! Meet the author, purchase your copy and have it signed!
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Richards DAR House
256 N. Joachim St.
2 – 5 PM