Woman shares memories in watercolor

ANDERSON — Don’t let Kathie Pauley hear you say there’s nothing to do in Anderson.

Or, for that matter, that the city used to be so much better “back in the day.”

“I read quite a bit on Facebook, and there are quite a lot of negative comments from people saying there’s nothing to do. Well, by golly, there is more to do in Anderson than there ever was,” Pauley said. “You just have to make up your mind that Anderson is what you want it to be.”

So when the nearly lifelong Andersonian artist sat down to capture her hometown in watercolor, she made sure to show the city’s history, while also highlighting new additions or longstanding locations that have found new life.

She began by sketching out the city’s center, Dickmann Town Center and the “Three Graces” bronze statue of three ballerinas dancing in a fountain.

Then she turned to a historical post, the old Interurban circa 1920 and a Gaslight Festival banner from the same area.

The Toast, Lemon Drop and Madison Heights High School also made the final cut — along with dozens of other Anderson artifacts and standouts.

“So I just wanted to show there is still a lot here … I feel like that really ground us,” she said. “Anderson is just it’s a good place to live, we’ve got goodhearted people, and it’s really the only hometown I have had. It’s just a special place.”

Once she’d finished, Pauley posted it to her Facebook account and sent it to a few friends.

The requests to buy it started pouring in instantly.

“I had several people ask to buy the painting and rather than select a buyer, I opted to print posters, making it an affordable option for anyone who wants one,” she said.

She’s already sold dozens, a testament, she says, to the droves of residents and former hometowners who still hold affection for the town much like herself.

“Anderson is fully alive and it’s just changed, and it’s just now not the employment capital of Indiana but it’s certainly got a lot to offer for families,” she said. “There’s certainly a lot of work to be done, but that’s every community.”

The fact that Pauley is selling anything at all is somewhat counter to the reason she took up a brush to begin with.

For the longest time, she worked with a jeweler in Indianapolis, crafting handmade jewelry for the company alongside her job as an accountant with MacAllister Machinery in Indy.

“Just working 40 hours and doing all the jewelry, I just got burned out, so I decided to do something just for me,” she said.

So she sought out watercolor, because, unlike many types of painting, mistakes can’t be patched over.

“I find it to be a good medium, for me, because a lot of artists don’t use it, it’s not forgiving, like oil painting,” she said. “If you are three-quarters of the way through and you make a huge mistake, you either have to rework the entire project or work something else out.”

Her first work was a lighthouse, just a memory pulled from her head.

Memories are important to Pauley, whether it’s from years of going to the Indiana State Fair or a near-lifetime living in Anderson, which she left seven years ago when she married her husband. More recently she’s begun painting over old hymnal pages, a way to add color to the memories most people associate with their favorite church song.

“I am very sentimental. Family is extremely important and the legacy you leave,” she said. “And also what was left for you … when you think about (for instance) my aunt loved this perfume, or she loved this song, these bring back memories of good things and that’s important to try to capture.”

From just something fun to keep herself busy, Pauley’s paintings have grown to a new venture, one that’s seen her star in two gallery shows in Indianapolis as well as built a burgeoning business of buyers for prints and originals.

And much like the rush to bid on her Anderson piece pushed Pauley to move into making prints, a demand for many of her other pieces is also having her look at making more prints available so, much like herself, people can keep their own memories alive in watercolor and parchment.