Bremerton artist carves words of love and hope

"Jim Bryant/ Staff Photo Watson's show also features his textured relief landscape paintings, this one depicting an Eastern Washington terrain. "

“Brian Watson’s words of hope and love are etched in wood. Carved in maple and myrtlewood, basswood and bubinga are phrases that ring true to the peace activist: Remember who you are, what you are, where you are, why you are.” Do justice, love, kindness.” Together we must learn to live as brothers, or together we will be forced to perish as fools.” Love your neighbor, love yourself.” Other pieces of wood simply proclaim one word: share, think, nonviolence, alive, hope, play, create, believe. The 31-year-old Bremerton artist calls these little affirmations.” But don’t confuse them with empty catchphrases. These are messages of challenges,” said the native of Golden, Colo. They’re not reassuring messages without any form of confrontation.” These messages on natural wood – as well as Watson’s textured relief landscape paintings – are on display in his solo show Carvings” during December at the Collective Visions Gallery, 331 Pacific Ave., downtown Bremerton. A public opening reception is hosted for the artist from 5-8 p.m. Friday. The artwork – ranging from $40 to $800 – will be sold at a 10 percent discount during the reception, and part of the proceeds will benefit the efforts of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. I use (the wood) to convey a message of hope and love,” Watson said. That’s the message I want for this show.” The words and images are laid out to resemble quilt squares: very symmetrical, very ordered … I’ve combined a masculine art form, woodcarving, with a feminine artform, quilting,” he said. The form is new to Watson, who was the college photographer when he majored in art at Pacific Lutheran University. Losing the use of the photo lab and equipment when he graduated, Watson shifted his creative efforts to painting. For eight years – until last January – he also worked at the Artists’ Edge gallery on the east end of the Manette bridge in Bremerton. This year, Watson began carving wood panels to add texture before he painted landscapes on them. It gives it a vibrancy it wouldn’t have … That led to this – to not paint the wood, but let the beauty and warmth of the wood show itself,” he said. Watson taught himself to carve, with the help of books and a neighbor. I don’t let my lack of knowledge get in the way of things, even when it’s a failure … That’s how art comes about: you just start thinking what possibilities exist.” The design work begins on the computer. This is the art – figuring out the message and the symbols,” Watson said. The rest is sheer gruntwork.” The heart and the hands appear again and again in his work. The hand represents human capacity and human ability … the heart enables our hands to do good work or bad works,” he said. Watson then prints the design on translucent paper, places transfer paper under that, and traces it onto the wood. Using a rotary drilling tool, he roughs out the letters, uses fine and abrasive tips for the detail work, sands it, and then finishes the piece with tong oil to give it a warm glow.” Most pieces take 12 to 15 hours. Watson carves in a spare bedroom in the East Bremerton home he shares with his wife, a school librarian. He paints in a studio he shares with other artists in downtown Bremerton. There’s a lot of dust and shavings, and that’s incompatible with painting,” he says of the dual studios. WHO: Bremerton artist Brian Watson WHAT: Solo exhibit Carvings” WHEN: All December, opening reception 5-8 p.m. Friday WHERE: Collective Visions Gallery, 331 Pacific Ave., downtown Bremerton INFORMATION: (360) 377-8327 “