Judy Morris lives in a watercolor world
Judy Morris is facing a dilemma these days as she and her husband Tom settle into their Summerfield home of six months: Should she finish unpacking boxes and getting her studio set up or should she get back to working on a couple of partially completed paintings on her easel?
Her life is further complicated by taking many trips to teach art, which has been a lifelong calling. After 30 years of teaching art in her hometown of Medford, "I retired and started my second career traveling and teaching," Morris said. "I work entirely in watercolor, which I didn't originally mean to, but it sneaks up on you."
One of her favorite annual excursions is a 10-day trip to the Domaine du Haut Baran, a restored manor house turned into an art center in the village of Duravel in southwest France, to teach painting classes.
"It's got gorgeous grounds and a pool, and we tour the area every day," Morris said.
She met one of the manor owners at a Florida Watercolor Society convention about 15 years ago, explaining, "I had gone to France three or four other times with art tours and love the area. Of course, when I was teaching, I could only travel in the summer and mainly went to Ajijic, Mexico.
"I've been to almost every state — most have watercolor societies — and I get hired as a juror, judge and teacher. Since I retired, I spend more time teaching than when I was teaching."
Morris recently returned from nearly a week in Lincoln City, where for 20 years she has taught painting at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. On all her trips, she always has a travel companion. If it's not her husband, then it is her daughter Sarah, who lives in King City; or her identical twin sister Jacque, who lives in Eugene; her sister's daughter and/or her sister's granddaughter.
As far as how much actual painting Morris gets done, "it depends on the year," she said.
"This past year was not our best. I spent a month in France, and my husband had health problems, and we moved. I didn't have a lot of time to paint," Morris said.
"I'm just setting up my studio, and I'm leaving for France on Sept. 6," she added. "That will be my last big trip for this year, although there may well be shorter trips. In a normal year, I paint about half the time."
Settling into her new community, Morris was thrilled to discover Summerfield's Creative Art Guild, which includes many talented local residents.
"They are a really active group and come up with wonderful ideas," she said. "And the Clubhouse space is very beautiful."
Morris still returns to Medford and has participated in Medford's last two art shows, where she sold many paintings. One theme she used was "I Remember Medford," in which she painted old buildings and places that no longer exist. And the theme of the other show was "Beyond Main Street," which was "everything but Medford," Morris said.
"I Googled the miles from Medford to places in China, Japan, Ireland, France and Mexico, and the name of each painting was the number of miles from Medford."
Medford still holds a special place in her heart, where Morris grew up 129 feet from Main Street. After graduating from South Medford High School, she went to Southern Oregon University on a math and science scholarship, "but somewhere along the way I decided that art was more fun," she said.
Morris made a good choice as her paintings have received more than 50 national and regional awards and have been included in exhibitions throughout the country. She also has been invited to participate in many international exhibitions, has been the subject of numerous stories in national publications and is a signature member of several watercolor societies.
Morris got her bachelor of science degree in art education and later her master of science degree at SOU. Angus Bowmer, who founded the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, was a speech teacher at SOU for both Morris and her husband, who also became a teacher.
"When I graduated, I was just happy to get the art job at my old high school," she said. "Tom and I met and married in Medford, and we just stayed. I was there for 67 years."
Five years ago the couple's daughter moved to King City, and the Morrises moved to Lake Oswego to be closer to her. "We were going to stay there two years, and we ended up staying five," she said. Morris was intrigued that her daughter had a 97224 ZIP code because she had spent so many years of her life in Room 224 in Medford High School.
Morris, who has a favorite T-shirt that reads "97224," added, "When I saw this (Tigard-area) ZIP code, I knew we had to be here. And we knew we wanted to be in a retirement community. I'm loving this community."