With Flying Colors

A flimsy tower of baseball cards teeters next to a precarious stack of boxes (cigar and oatmeal crème pie) and various papers, the latter perched atop a small jewelry box and collectively lassoed by a small plastic cowboy figurine. This is how Jasper, Ind., artist Myra Schuetter tackles the tough times. The name of the large-scale painting so rich with detail has a hidden meaning: “I can handle this” (also the name of the piece). It’s “about a period in my husband Wayne’s life when he was dealing with some rather heavy issues,” the internationally known watercolor virtuoso says. “I was able to work out my thoughts but come up with a rather delightful image that would fit in a child’s playroom.”

Wayne has been a major supporter of Myra and her art during their 39 years of marriage. He encouraged Myra to give up teaching and paint full time. He also has a good eye for her work. “Wayne’s my best critic,” Myra says. “He sees things I’ve been too close to, and he knows exactly when to either fix dinner himself or go out to eat.” Myra’s tendency to get caught up in her work has paid off: Her paintings have been displayed at numerous exhibits and are a part of many collections at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, Old National Bank, Koch & Sons, and throughout the United States. Last summer, French magazine L’Art de l’Aquarelle (The Art of the Watercolor) featured her work after seeing “I Can Handle This” online. (Her painting “Under the Stairs” even found its way to the Art in Embassies exhibit at the United States Mission in Berlin from 1987-91. “It was great exposure,” she says. “And we got a Christmas card from the American ambassador to Berlin for several years.”)

The relevant and self-proclaimed “meticulous realist” begins each painting the same way. She draws objects arranged in her studio. “Much more time is spent perfecting the drawing,” she says. “By the time I get to the color, it’s just plain fun.” Annoyed by lackluster hues, Myra adds layers of transparent color to increase the intensity, and she plays with light and textures. “I hate being disappointed when I move in to take a closer look at a painting and find nothing there of interest,” she says. “The good ones make you want to crawl into the painting or leave nose prints on the surface.” 

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