Valerie Toliver, an artist and teacher, will be displaying her watercolor paintings as guest artist at Artists of the Rim Gallery on Main Street during September. You may have seen Toliver’s giclee prints at Myra’s Gallery in Pine in the past. This showing at Artists of the Rim is the first time Toliver has made her original artwork available to the public.
Growing up in an artistic family, Toliver’s talent might have been expected. Her father, Edward Toliver is a local photographer who worked as a photographer for Salt River Project until he retired, and had black and white photos published in Arizona Highways magazines during the 1960s. Her mother, Sheila Sanders, was a self-employed architect, now retired, but still dabbles in art today. Her brother, Mark Toliver, builds unique mechanical cars and trucks and has been featured in hot rod magazines with his designs. They now live in Pine. Her sister, Stephanie Blaze, is art director at a salon in Phoenix where she creates hair designs. But the creative gene goes all the way back to the 1700s when Jerimiah Theus, one of Toliver’s ancestors, was an early American artist in Georgia.
“My artistic ability started at an early age, winning only first-place awards for many of my art projects,” Toliver said. “McKemy Junior High printed my drawing of a tiger on the cover of the school yearbook, and then in West High’s drafting class, I created full sets of architectural plans for four houses. Each set included a perspective watercolor painting.
Before devoting her artistic efforts to watercolor painting, Toliver had a career working in various technical fields of architectural, mechanical and electronic drafting with experience creating printed circuit artwork from schematics. This has given her a distinctive style of composition and design and she has become known for her vivid colors and unique perspective. Her work demonstrates great versatility of mood with an exotic command of color. Her paintings are often described as vivid, with a range of deep and masterful hues and a dramatic use of composition.
But her true love is teaching.
“My purpose in life is teaching,” Toliver said. “You will find my instruction includes intricate procedures that help students understand how they can improve their work and make their paintings fresh and vibrant.”
If you attend one of her classes, you can expect the demonstrations to be enthusiastic, interesting and full of useful techniques. She has been teaching around the Valley since 2004 and is currently teaching at Jerry’s Artarama, Hobby Lobby and at her studio in Central Phoenix.
Toliver refers to herself more as a coach who first demonstrates then coaches her students with one-on-one encouragement. If your painting looks flat, she shows you how to give it depth. If you find your painting lacks color, she shows you how to mix the right amount of paint and water to give it the vivid color it needs.
According to Toliver, watercolor is one of the more complicated art media, which can be overworked if the artist isn’t careful.
“Watercolor is 50 percent the artist and 50 percent God,” Toliver said. “You never know where your color in the water will go.”
She has scheduled a workshop in Payson from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 4 at the Payson Senior Center to learn how to paint rocks and cliffs of the Rim Country in watercolor. You can sign up for her class by going to her Web site at www.valerietoliver.com or e-mailing her at email@example.com.
There will be a reception in Toliver’s honor at the Artists of the Rim Gallery from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3 during the First Friday on Main Street celebration. Stop by to talk with her and watch a free watercolor demonstration.