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Illustrator Jill Rees Embraces Watercolor

Jill Rees’ art career started in second grade, when her teacher asked her to draw a cooked turkey for the bulletin board. Rees, a new member of the Anderson Artists Guild, channeled that interest into a degree in illustration from the Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.

Though her real passion is children’s books (and she illustrated one called Heart-Ray Vision about a boy spending a week at his grandparents’ lake house), her professional career has focused on package design. In one job at an advertising agency, her specialty was chocolate bunny boxes, as well as packaging for Halloween and Christmas. “This was before computers were used for design,” she said. “Everything was hand drawn and hand painted in acrylics or gouache.”


Because she stayed home to raise her children, most of the work she took on was freelance, including pen and ink sketches for an electric company, package design, posters, and dog portraits.


When her husband took a new job that allowed them to live anywhere, they relocated from Pennsylvania to Walhalla near their son, who graduated from Clemson University, and his family. Before long, Rees met two AAG members who helped her meet like-minded souls. Donna O’Hara introduced her to Heart to Art, a weekly painting group at the Blue Ridge Arts Center, while Yvonne Park invited her to join the Tri-County Plein Air Painters.


“I love to be outside and had tried plein air through the years,” said Rees. “But it’s hard to focus on what you’re painting. Since I joined this group, it’s a little easier to focus.”


Rees is a watercolorist, a medium she loves for its vibrant colors. “It’s always a struggle to control it, but sometimes you get happy surprises,” she said. “You just have to let the watercolor do its thing.”


Though these two groups keep her busy with weekly or biweekly get-togethers, Rees still finds time for involvement with Paws 2 Care, a pet therapy organization that brings dogs for visits at places like elementary schools and assisted living facilities. “That’s my favorite volunteer activity," she said. "Kids pet or read to the dogs. Elderly people touch and pet them and tell stories about the dogs they used to have. It relieves stress for people. It's very rewarding.”


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