Artist Ferguson brings it all together as a watercolorist


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Therese Payne Ferguson is proud of her “Strawberry Wine” painting.

Judy Berman

Cut glass or folds in fabric can be a challenge in still-life paintings.

“Sometimes, it’s like you’re working out a puzzle to get everything just right. There is so much detail and to make it all look like it goes together,” said watercolorist Therese Payne Ferguson.

Her “Strawberry Wine” painting, on display at The Art Gallery of Viera in The Avenue, features a mix of cut glass, strawberries and a delicate tablecloth.

Flowers — especially bromeliads — animals and birds are favorite subjects Ferguson paints in rich, vibrant colors. 

While she works in many mediums, watercolor is her main interest.

“I saw a demo once, and it was of an artist doing a watercolor scene. It just blew me away watching how they did all the layering, all the transparency, and the vivid colors,” said Ferguson, an Eau Gallie resident who was 3 years old when her parents moved to Florida from Charleston, West Virginia.

Nancy Dillen said Ferguson was one of her first students when she taught at Brevard Community College. Dillen often visits Ferguson’s studio during the Eau Gallie Art District’s First Fridays.

“She always has strong contrasts in textures and colors, creating a dynamic composition,” Dillen said.

“You’ll see something very lacy and delicate paired with something simple and flat,” Dillen said. 

Ferguson’s decision to place a warm color next to a cool, and a light next to a dark, are what makes her compositions and scenes pop, Dillen said.

“Most people are intimidated about putting the dark in,” Ferguson said. “That’s what gives (the painting) the 3-D effect, the depth.”

She advises her students that “if it looks right when it’s wet, it’s wrong when it dries.” That’s because watercolor always looks much darker and richer when it’s first put down. When it dries, it’s much lighter as it soaks into the paper.

Patience is the key, she said. “Just believe it’s going to get there.”

“Once in a while, when the color does its own thing, you just have to be willing to take a different journey.”

On April 1, Ferguson was going to be the honoree at the fifth annual Women We Love Luncheon for the contributions she’s made to the Eau Gallie Art District. The event was postponed.