By Gina Malone
Pamela Haddock embraces creativity as a natural part of every day, a problem-solving process of “seeing how you can fit things together to make something else,” she says. A native of West Virginia, she lives and paints now in Sylva, inspired by hiking and visiting the mountain places that figure in her watercolor works.
“The shapes of rocks and the movement of the water with its patterns or lights are mesmerizing,” she says, “and I fight with trying to recreate them with my impression of them and the way they make me feel. I have been told that my work is spiritual and, perhaps, that is the best compliment in that I am communicating my impression and reaction to the landscape.” Favorite places include Deep Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee Valley, Oconaluftee River, Nantahala Gorge and winding roads along the Tuckaseegee River. “Many of my favorite subjects were found while getting lost on back roads in rural North Carolina or taking a less traveled trail branch while hiking,” she says.
In college, she majored in geology, finding the science and field trips fascinating. She worked for her professors doing illustrations for their publications about beaches and barrier islands.
She had begun cultivating those drawing skills when she was a child and an uncle who owned a printing company provided her with a limitless supply of paper. “Drawing was my outlet to imagine and tell the stories that rattled around in my head,” she says. She describes her parents—her mother an interior decorator and her father a machinist—as “hardworking, highly creative people.”
With the pandemic’s disruption of life as it was, Pamela finds herself drawing more. “I have been drawing figuratively, which gives me insight into other ways to look at composition,” she says.
She also uses drawings as preparation for her paintings. “I like to analyze my subject by creating a value drawing where I decide on the position of strategic lights and darks,” she says. “Then the painting can happen quickly using the value drawing as a guide. I lose myself in the process that becomes akin to working a puzzle, deciding where patterns of light and dark should go to lead the viewer into the piece.”
Throughout her painting career, she has received welcome encouragement from family. She worked for a time in her husband’s medical office in Sylva before devoting herself full-time to working in her home studio. “My husband assured me that I should paint without worrying what would become of the work,” Pamela says. “That freedom gave me wings. I could concentrate on the process and stretch my creativity without worrying that I had to paint for a particular audience.”
Since the pandemic hit, she has painted live on Facebook and has discovered Procreate, a digital illustration app that allows her to “draw and explore without adding to the stack of paper that accumulates in my studio when I am painting.” Another thing she finds satisfying during this time is encouraging other artists in their creative pursuits. She recalls a time when she volunteered to help her daughter’s grammar school class with drawing. “One of the students, after watching me, exclaimed, ‘Wow, Mrs. Haddock, you are not afraid to draw,’” Pamela says. “It made me sad to think that anyone would be ‘afraid’ to draw, but I realized I needed to encourage anyone who had that particular fear.”
Even after years of working at her painting, there are still discoveries to be made. “There are times when happy accidents occur,” she says, “unexpected mixes, or movements with the paint that dictate that you abandon it to itself to see where it will go. Those are times of great pleasure and satisfaction.”
Pamela is a signature member of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina (WSNC) and will have her work, The Oconaluftee in Spring, featured in the 75th Annual WSNC Juried Exhibition, a virtual show this year, running Sunday, October 4 through November 21. Visit NCWatercolorSociety.org to learn more.
Her work is also exhibited at several regional galleries, Twigs and Leaves Gallery in Waynesville among them. “Twigs and Leaves Gallery is especially excited to have Pam Haddock displaying her artwork with us,” says gallery owner Carrie Keith. “We strive to create a unique experience for our customers and Pam’s work does just that.”
Find Pamela Haddock’s work at PamHaddock.com, on Facebook at PamelaHaddockArtist and on Instagram @pamelapaintstheworld. Visits to her studio are by appointment only by calling 828.226.4268. Twigs & Leaves Gallery is located at 98 North Main Street in Waynesville.