An Artist, An Influence

“Last of the Ice” by Phil Austin.

I was blessed with a good watercolor name – “Austin.” Phil Austin and I shared more than a last name. In 1977 I took a class from Phil, learning his seven colors were not my seven colors, but mostly how Phil lived and breathed watercolor painting.

Phil also helped me by suggesting I enter the (then) Midwest Watercolor Society Annual Exhibit. His encouragement opened a whole new world to me. I eventually earned the Master Status level in the now Transparent Watercolor Society of America, but more importantly, I met and studied with the most talented painters in the nation and had opportunities to teach workshops nationally.

In 1982, I was able to join the Jack Anderson Gallery, which was another turning point. Jack and Sue Anderson ran a gallery with wonderfully talented artists, but watercolors were a strength. Exhibiting with Phil Austin, Jack Anderson, and Charles Peterson was truly an honor, and it continues to this day at Cottage Row Framing and Gallery in Fish Creek.

“Rapids and Reflections” by Bridget Austin.

When I started exhibiting at art fairs in 1975, people always asked, “Are you related to Phil?” I finally had a t-shirt made that said “No…I am not related to Phil!” His students had a shirt made for him, too. We posed in these shirts while taking a Frank Webb workshop years ago, and had a good laugh.

You can’t change heredity, but I know I join the legions of artists who were inspired by the art and life of Phil Austin.

The Peninsula Pulse has partnered with the Hardy Gallery to present the series, “An Artist, an Influence.” For more information about the Hardy, please call 920.854.2210, email [email protected], or visit