Artist of the Month

Local Watercolor Instructor Honored
By Bill Zimmerman, President Arts Council Menifee


Have you ever tried watercolor painting? If you have, you know why so many artists consider it to be “the most difficult medium”. Fortunately, here in Menifee, there is a watercolor instructor who makes it easy.

Each month, Arts Council Menifee selects an “Artist of the Month”, and the recipient for September is Sun City resident Kathleen Pickett.

The non-profit art organization appreciates all of its patron members, but Pickett is held in the highest regard, not only for her artistic talents and teaching role, but also for her loveable personality.

All of her life, Kathleen Pickett has enjoyed portraying the bold beautiful colors of nature through visual art. She has learned to welcome that magical mystery of surprise when water, pigment and paper are married by her brush.

Pickett describes the process as an emotional journey. “Watercolor is a mysterious medium that takes you away from all the realities of everyday life. You enter into a fantasy world not knowing what will happen next when you put water and paint together on a piece of white paper”, said Pickett.

“The explosion of colors onto the wet paper gives way to an excitement of emotions watching the creation of various mixes of colors and the unusual forms that appear right before your eyes. This is the magic part of learning those first basic techniques in this mysterious medium”, she described.

In the 1970’s while attending formal classes in watercolor, Pickett excelled to the point that she was asked to take over the class. There began her art career.

Pickett has taught watercolor classes and workshops in Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and California since 1978. She had the privilege of showing her work in many exhibitions, winning numerous awards. One of her notable honors was being juried into the prestigious North Carolina Watercolor Society. She also won first place in the popular Fallbrook Art Association show. Although these accomplishments are the kind that that would qualify an artist as a master, Pickett sees herself as a continuing student seeking to conjure that innate creativity that will inspire her next piece.

Pickett has a heritage of Osage Indian, a tribe from Oklahoma, of which her mother was a member. Today some of Pickett’s favorite subjects to paint are Native Americans, rustic barns, lighthouses and trees. She likes to paint her subjects using a creative background of textures on French watercolor paper, the more bold the color the better.

In 1996, she chose Sun City as her place to retire while continuing to nurture her art career. She is a founding member of Arts Council Menifee where she serves as Board Trustee and Co-Chair of the Visual Arts Division. She also serves as President of the Sun City Art Guild where members benefit from her watercolor instruction classes. Retirees at the Sun Meadows senior community also enjoy the classes she teaches there.

Her students are learning to work from light to dark, first by splashing on abstract transparent colors to frame the subject with sky and clouds, or to illustrate foliage. These are followed by definitive darks such as tree branches and other solid images. All of this happens on paper, no canvas in this class. While her classes do introduce specialized techniques such as the use of salts, saran wrap, foil and spray bottles, Pickett’s paramount value is found in her message.

While her students are busy practicing control of the medium before them, Pickett offers encouraging direction such as “let the paper and paint do the work for you” and “don’t try to paint like other artists, always paint like you, have fun, and remember, only God is perfect”.

When speaking with Kathleen, we begin to sense her love and passion for artistic beauty and her enjoyment working with watercolors. “Your reward is excepting the results of your handiwork of which can be good or not so good. It has been a learning experience, and if you find just one small inch of your painting that you like, then you’ve been successful” said Pickett.

Later this year in November, Pickett will be showing her Native American themed pieces at the Sun City library.


Lois Cormier Honored as August Artist of the Month
By Bill Zimmerman, President Arts Council Menifee


It is easy to find that “one word” that describes Lois Cormier . . . it is “Talented”.

Each month, Arts Council Menifee selects an artist to be honored, and this month’s recipient is especially impressive.  A visit to her home reveals the many beautiful works by here hands including oil paintings, acrylics, watercolors, ceramics, dozens of quilts, stained glass lamps and windows, each room showcasing colorful displays of creativity.

Lois Cormier has been immersed in Menifee’s art circles since moving to the Oasis senior community in 2000. She is a founding member of the Oasis Fine Arts Group, and one of Arts Council Menifee’s founding patron members. Hers was one of the first framed works of art to be exhibited in the group’s art gallery, which is located at the Kay Ceniceros Community Center.  She is also a member of the Oasis Quilt and Sew Guild.

“A multi-talented painter, quilter and musician, Lois is one of the most creative people I know. She can always be counted on to add her unique touch to whatever she creates”, observed Arts Council Menifee’s Vice President and Visual Arts Division Chair, Carol South.

Lois Cormier’s interest in the fine arts was first manifested through music as a young child growing up in Massachusetts while learning to play the violin. She played for many years before proceeding to the cello while attending art and music classes in college.

“I took every music class they offered, including music theory, string orchestra and quartet”, said Cormier. She has played cello in several community orchestras, including the Inland Valley Symphony and has performed at the Redlands Bowl.

Cormier’s husband Bill proudly proclaims his adoration for Lois and her talent. “I’ve counted close to fifty quilts she has made”, said Bill Cormier. “Including a hand made quilt for each of our five grown sons”, he added.  Lois has enjoyed sewing all of her life including making suits for her boys when they were young. She has also constructed detailed dollhouses and hand makes tiny outfits for American Girl dolls.

Lois Cormier is grateful that her mother encouraged her family to pursue the arts, and has fond memories of playing music with her father and sisters during her youth. Hers is a world energized by color and visual beauty, and gratified by musical performance.

Many local artists in the valley have come to admire Cormier’s creativity and style, especially those craft minded friends she has made in the Oasis senior community. They all recognize her as one of their most talented friends. “We had a watercolor class together, and Lois always seemed to add a little extra to her pieces, creative details that made her pieces extra special”, said Carol South, who also resides in the Oasis.