A new watercolor exhibit is up at Abbott's Grill in Milford and local city officials, artists and art lovers from up and down the state attended the opening reception Tuesday, July 10.The exhibit was coordinated by artist Rosemary Connelly and features the work of local and regional artists.

Milford's official slogan is "art town, river town, hometown." This motto was evident Tuesday night at the opening reception for the new watercolor exhibit, "Summer Waters" at Abbott's Grill as people piled in to see the work of local and regional painters, talk art and munch on the fare provided by the restaurant.

Several city officials, including councilman Skip Pikus, city manager Richard Carmean and Mayor Ronnie Rodgers graciously accepted the invitation of exhibit coordinator Rosemary Connelly to stop by, have dinner and see how the art community can drive business in Milford.

Connelly believes that the success of Tuesday night's reception is a textbook example of how art and business should work together.

"The art aspect of our town's slogan is important to the city," Connelly said. "Art really can be an engine for economic development that brings people to town. And, the more people that come here, the more things there will be to come to." 

Connelly also wants the community to be able to see how many artists the Milford community boasts.

"I hope they take from it that we have some very talented artists in and around the Milford area and that there's a lot to offer," Connelly said.

As Connelly put the exhibit together, she said she wanted big and bold images and conjured up images of summer.

"The theme became summer waters, which is a play on words," Connelly said. "They were all water media and were all summer-related. That includes watercolors, acrylics, which use water to clean up and mixed media, which also uses a combination of things from watercolors to acrylics as opposed to oil, which is not water-based."

For people who find themselves inspired by the exhibit, Connelly said that the Mispillion Art League offers many classes for both beginners and more advanced painters, including her own watercolor journaling class.

"I think of it as an introduction for anybody who has never done any drawing or painting before," Connelly said. "I give them a little bit of drawing instruction and some color theory.  

Connelly added that because the work is done in a journal, it's a very forgiving activity that doesn't require the same amount of effort that goes into a work of art that will be framed and shown to the public.

"It's your observations of the world around you," Connelly said. "So, you're looking at a pot of flowers, for instance, and you're making a little sketch and you're putting some color onto it and writing about your observations."

Then, she added that you have to just do it. Do it everyday. Or, at least, as often as possible.

"These artists in the exhibit are trained in their fields for the most part," Connelly said. "Typically an artist will have years of training. They are studying drawing, painting, art history, color theory and composition. It's more than just putting paint on paper."