Gotta Paint, Gotta Sing

Husband, wife paint, teach, sing their way across America

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Some people grow up wanting to be artists.

Others grow up wanting to be entertainers.

Still others just want to spend their lives traveling.

Connie Morse and her husband, Dave Sime, grew up wanting to do all three.

A conflict? Not at all.

Morse and Sime now travel the southwestern United States creating and selling their paintings, holding art workshops, and performing as a country-western/bluegrass duo named Borderline.

And next month, this Durango-based Renaissance couple will be plying their triplicate trade right here in Payson, in connection with a pair of simultaneous, two-day workshops one on painting with oils, the other on using watercolors, both classified for "beginners or intermediates." The workshops are sponsored by the Payson Art League and conducted Sept. 14 and 15 at St. Philip's Parish Hall.

Both Sime and Morse are specialists in "plein air," which means to paint on location, Sime said.

"Connie and I have done that together for 16 years, traveling around in an Airstream trailer from British Columbia to Baja and every nice point in between ... In fact, we've spent a lot of time up on the Mogollon Rim, partly because it really reminds us of where we started out many years ago in Montana. So we really love that area."

He is the watercolor master of the two, while her forte is oils.

"The principles are pretty much the same," Sime said, "so we start both of the workshops with everyone together, show them some examples, and discuss things like composition, values not family values, but the darks and lights that make a painting work. Many people get so involved with color, thinking that's the total answer, but it's values that make or break the painting."

After that, the group splits into the two separate workshops, each of which he said begin with demonstrations involving "a half-hour or 45 minutes of them watching us paint and then they can do their own thing with our help and guidance. They can either paint along with what we've painted, or paint whatever they want from a photo or such."

Sime said he hopes the students will "walk away with an understanding of what makes a painting work, and hopefully be more excited and enthused about creating their own thing."

Morse, meanwhile, hopes to instill into the work of her students "a sense of place and time. That's what plein air does; it's a way to show them how to lay the pigments down fast and catch the light, which really helps to create the sense and feeling of being in a very particular place at a very particular time which is quite different than the effect you get painting from photographs.

"When I do a painting at noontime, and someone tells me that they know it's a painting done at noon," she said, "I really know I've been a success."

A five-year resident of Colorado's La Plata County, Morse's talents with oil paints has led her to the position of president of the American Academy of Women Artists. Her work has been featured in the Arizona Historical Society Museum show, the American Academy of Women Artists show in Scottsdale, the Bennington Center for the Arts' National Art Exhibition, and the C.M. Russell Invitational Exhibition and Art Auction. She has been featured in the magazines Wildlife Art, Western Horseman, Southwestern Art and Art News.

Sime's work has been represented in galleries in Arizona, California, Colorado and Wyoming, and is included in private and corporate collections worldwide.

As a couple, they've been selling wildlife, seascape and landscape paintings for several years in the Apache Junction area, and for several more in Sedona, California and Wyoming art galleries. To all of those places, this couple not only brought their art classes and workshops ... but their musical instruments, too. Sime plays the fiddle, mandolin and guitar while also singing lead, as Morse sings background and plays the guitar and keyboard.

How will they work their brand of raucous, down-home music into such a typically staid event as a artists' workshop?

"Easy!," Sime said. "We're going to do it in conjunction with the reception that will be held Friday night, Sept. 14, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. We've found that it's a really good way to kick off the workshop. We do some original songs, but we do a lot of songs like the old Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tune 'The Long Hard Road,' and lately we've been getting into a lot of Cajun music."

In other words, grab your paintbrushes and get ready for an old-fashioned, plein air hoedown.

When, where, how?

Connie Morse and Dave Sime will individually present separate two-day workshops, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 and 15, featuring techniques in oils and watercolors. Both will be held at St. Phillips Parish hall, 511 South St. Phillips St. in Payson. The cost for each is $60.

Supplies are not furnished; those who participate should bring equipment they are familiar with, canvas, watercolor paper, brushes, paints, pigments.

For more information, call Jan Hodson at 474-1094.

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