Watercolor artist shows off her work

CHICO — Watercolor art is a medium that is universally agreed to be one of the most difficult painting styles to learn. Local artist Candy Matthews is almost exclusively a watercolor artist. Her work, including watercolor paintings of still life, is being displayed in Upper Crust Bakery and Cafe.

“To come to the Upper Crust, which is so visible people are here all the time — it’s a great spot, but there’s a two-year waiting list,” Matthews said. “So I told the owner Lori, if you ever get a cancellation, I’m great at last-minute stuff. I paint so much that I always have a ton of stuff to show.”

After a last-minute cancellation, Matthews got the chance to show her work at the bakery through the rest of the month.

Matthews has been painting since she was 24 and is a self-taught artist. Originally, she had an art teacher named Helen Hana who was also a watercolor artist in Chico. Matthews credits Hana for getting her excited about painting with watercolors. Though Matthews has painted in other mediums such as oils and acrylics, watercolors have always been her true passion.

Matthews recalls all the time she spent drawing in her early life.

“You should have seen my notebooks in school,” Matthews said. “I had clothes on the side, I had people’s faces on the side, I had horses. I went through that whole girl thing when they fall in love with horses. I just use to draw all the time and I really didn’t start painting with paints till I was in my 20s.”

Matthews moved to Chico at 25 years old and started taking classes. For the most part, however, she is self-taught.

“I do kind of my own thing,” Matthews said. “My first teacher taught me if you paint every day you’ll learn how to do it, and it’s really true and I do, I paint every day. Looking back now, I really wish I had gone back to art school and learned a lot more.”

Matthews has a great fascination with still-life art. She cites Chico for having many things that give her inspiration. She adores the weekly farmer’s market and also enjoys going to the park and finding birds to study and photograph.

Matthews works in watercolors on a regular basis.

“Watercolor is kind of touchy because it’s hard to cover up a mistake,” she said. “But I’ve learned how to work around mistakes. Like if a paint color spills in the wrong place for instance. I’ve learned how to get most of it out, change the shape of something. There are all sorts of tricks you learn when you paint.”

Matthews managed to pick two she was excited to show at Upper Crust.

“I really love the amaryllas that I painted because they were growing on my back porch in a pot and they just surprised me,” Matthews said. “They were going to come up but boom, there was this explosion of beautiful white flowers.”

Matthews is also fond of the flying heron piece she painted that is modeled after a Giclee painting, making it a copy of an original. However, Matthews wasn’t a fan of the way the wings were looking, so she decided to cut them all out and glue on new wings, effectively making the piece a collage.

“So sometimes you have to work in different ways, and that was really fun for me, and it turned out so much more full,” Matthews said. “I really like that one. So I would say those two are my favorites.”

Matthews’ art can be seen at Upper Crust at 130 Main St. through the rest of the month. For the aspiring artist, she offered a few words of wisdom.

“I think I am really lucky, because life throws all kinds of challenges at you and not all of them good,” Matthews said. “And some of them are really difficult and if you have a passion, any kind of passion like painting or like writing, it’s such a blessing. It’s so wonderful to do something that keeps your mind focused on it. It makes you happy, and then it makes other people happy.”