Story by Lauren Schatz
Since retiring in 2011, former art teacher Jill Webber is letting go of her teaching mindset and is becoming a student herself. Webber, who before didn’t have much time to spend focused on her own art because of her responsibilities as a teacher, has spent this past year devoted to learning and practicing art in anticipation for an art show and sale she and fellow artist, Jude Tolar, will be exhibiting in.
To prepare for the show, Webber has been spending her weeks painting, putting in an average of around 40 hours per week. She’s also worked closely with artists Marty Avrett, a retired OSU art professor, and Tolar, whom she calls her mentors.
“It’s been really fun and exciting this past year as I’ve been working for this upcoming show,” Webber said. “Jude’s been mentoring me…which is great. She’s been doing this for quite some time; she knows the ropes.”
Tolar is well known in the Stillwater community for the freelance graphic design work she has done for several local companies such as The Wooden Nickel and Elizabeth’s on Campus Corner.
However, in the art world, Tolar is known for the impressive pastel work she’s created. Since she started painting with pastels around 11 years ago, the local artist has exhibited in many national and international shows, won several awards in PleinAir Magazine’s Plein Air Salon competition and become a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America.
Tolar, who also teaches pastel workshops in Oklahoma, has acted as a mentor to Webber and encouraged her to show her art in the upcoming show and sale.
“I’m really excited to show with Jill because her work is vibrant and energetic and lively and she’s very, very talented,” Tolar said. “I’m honored to be showing with her.”
The two met at a fundraising event at the Stillwater Center for the Arts and instantly became friends. They frequently spend time together at Tolar’s scenic land, painting and preparing for their show.
Though they paint with different mediums—Tolar with pastels and Webber with oil paints—they share a strong love for capturing the beauty found in nature. They notice beauty in places others may pass by, such as in a pile of leaves, a sun-kissed tree or a lone flower.
“I’m all about showing a little piece of the beauty that I see every day when I walk outside,” Tolar said.
The artists greatly enjoy painting en plein air, a method of painting outdoors from observation. This method can be tricky at times because of the setting sun and of course Oklahoma’s unpredictable weather.
“You know how Oklahoma weather is,” said Webber. “When I plein air in Oklahoma, well, you never know from one day to the next.”
Nevertheless, the two have been able to combat the elements and produce many stunning portraits en plein air that will be featured in their show.
The art show and sale will feature a variety of pieces, ranging from New Mexico to Oklahoma scenery, from both artists. Attendants of the show will enjoy seeing the beauty captured in their own state; they may even recognize an iconic Stillwater spot, The Botanic Garden at OSU, in a few pieces.
The three-day art show and sale will take place at the gallery upstairs in historic Peck’s Lodge, located at 227 S. Knoblock St., Stillwater, OK.
Both artists look forward to interacting with guests and sharing their passion for art with the community. The dates for the show and sale are:
- Friday, Oct. 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 29 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Tolar and Webber are excited not only for their art to be seen, but for it to inspire others. They hope to bring joy to the community—one painting at a time.
“I hope they [the Stillwater community] can come enjoy and leave with a smile—and maybe a painting—but for sure a smile,” Tolar said, “That’s the thing that’s most important to me.”