Finding beauty in the ordinary
May 15, 2022
It's a fine day. The little girl loads her bicycle basket with supplies. First is a stack of paper, then a jelly jar filled with water and finally her Prang watercolor set. She's ready to set off for the nearby lake to fill all that white paper with images of the beauty she sees everywhere.
This is how Jill Webber began her artistic career. "I was very young, and I had an intense interest in leaves and trees, rocks, lake water, the woods, the forest," she said.
"I grew up in a very small town, Mexico. Not the country Mexico. It's Mexico, Missouri. We had a lot of freedom to roam around. We rode our bikes everywhere. We walked everywhere. We roller skated everywhere."
From an early age, around five or six years, Webber says she asked for art materials. When she got her first bike, she was off on adventures. "I wanted to go down to our neighborhood lake and try to paint all the beauty that I saw there," she said. At that time, plastic had not been invented so her mother saved glass jelly jars to carry her water. Her art supplies came regularly, as requested, for her birthday and Christmas gifts.
"I would spend literally hours at the lake, painting trees and leaves and rocks," she said. When her school first offered an art class, she took it and loved it. She continued art classes through high school and into college, eventually receiving a degree in art from Oklahoma State University.
Then House Bill 1017 was passed by the Oklahoma legislature. It required all students to have a credit in fine arts. The high school needed an art teacher so she applied and was hired.
Webber developed the curriculum for a fine arts class, for Art II and oil painting. "After a few years, I developed curriculum and was accepted by the Oklahoma State Board of Education to teach an advance placement class of 2-D art and drawing," she said. "That's what I did as my career."
After years of teaching others, Webber retired. "I finally had time to open a studio and work on things that I wanted to paint. I went directly back to what I had been interested in all of my life – the beauty of everyday things in nature, scenes in nature, textures, lighting," she said.
"That is what I have been doing fulltime probably since 2016. I love it!" Retirement gives her the opportunity to travel to different places looking for images to capture. She likes going to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and some of the national parks. Her work reflects the images she sees in all these locales.
As she has progressed in her studio work, her second career, Webber's interest as expanded into other subjects she finds challenging. One of those is the human form. "I taught that in high school; I understood it. I just never had an interest in painting it," she said.
Webber who lives in Stillwater is one of the featured artists this month at Graceful Arts Gallery in Alva. Although her displayed work is mostly inspired by nature, she included some art featuring people. "I think they challenging, and I think they are interesting," she said. Speaking of her exhibit, she said "They're all people that I know, and I wanted to include them in there. This exhibit is Sun, Fun and Friends, so I had to include friends.
"As for the sun part of it, the way the sun hits objects and nature depends upon the time of day. I have seen the differences sometimes in the forest or sometimes when I'm hiking. Things don't stand out and they're not of interest to me. If I wait ten minutes, the way the sun hits it, it's entirely different."
Webber says she tries to capture that moment, that impression to share with others. "Because they are everyday images that we probably pass by, and we don't even look at them," she said. "They are really beautiful to me, and I just want to try to share that with the public."
To see more of Webber's art, visit her website at http://www.jillwebber.com.