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Rugby artist’s work appears in Boston show

Photo by Sue Sitter/PCT MAIN: Rugby artist Caroline Doucette stands next to her flag painting, "Precious Blessings" in Rugby's Rockin' Relics Cafe. Another of her works, titled "Time Passages" stands in the background.

The work of Rugby artist Caroline Doucette will appear with paintings from signature members of the New England Watercolor Society in a month-long show in Boston, Mass., Feb. 4 through March 1.

A press release by the society used the terms “excellence,” “diversity” and “exceptional” to describe the work of signature members.

The Guild of Boston Artists gallery will host the show.

“The Signature Members Show is an opportunity to view the artistry and technical mastery of accomplished watercolor artists from all six New England states. The variety of painting styles extends from classically representational to abstract,” the press release said.

The release continued, “The New England Watercolor Society, founded as the Boston Watercolor Society in 1885, is one of the oldest, most respected watercolor societies in America.”

Doucette, who lived in New Hampshire until she moved to Rugby in 2000, told the Tribune, “It’s an honor to be a signature member. That means they’ve deemed me good enough to use my initials on my paintings.”

“Plus,” she added, “I’ve also earned that right with the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society, the Red River Watercolor Society and the Catherine Lorillard-Wolfe Art Club. That is in Boston.”

Doucette said her family’s history in New Hampshire began when her grandfather arrived there from Armenia before World War I.

His arrival also sparked a family tradition of military service.

“My maternal grandfather joined the U.S. Army in the First World War to get his citizenship. He met my grandmother in Germany and he brought her back to the states. They had eight children. My uncles served in World War II. My mother served during the Korean War and I was in at the tail end of the Vietnam War,” Doucette noted.

“I have four brothers and each one of them served in a different branch, none of us lifers, but we definitely served our country.”

Military placement tests and programs identified an aptitude for art in Doucette.

“I was supposed to go in with photography, and that was booked up,” Doucette said.

“I ended up in supply, so any artwork I did was totally on my own and it was very little. When I got out, I had a small disability and I came under the Army program for college. I went in that to study to be a paralegal. After the first semester, I said, ‘Oh, this is going to bore me to death! I can’t do this!’ The VA said, ‘Go into commercial art.'”

“I did one semester and I thought, ‘having people telling me how they want it done, and they don’t like what I did? No.'”

“The VA said, ‘You know, with your testing, you show that you could make it as a fine artist.’ They didn’t have to tell me twice.”

Doucette said she attended Revere College in Nashua, N.H., for an education in fine arts.

Doucette’s husband, Dave, later encouraged her to pursue a career as a painter in watercolors.

“I’ve been doing it full time now for 30 years,” she said.

Painting in watercolors “just seems to work right with me,” Doucette noted. “My mother, who is also an artist, does different media and she likes oils the best. I just don’t have the knack for it.”

“I do flag paintings as well as my florals,” Doucette said.

Doucette said her husband’s career led the couple to settle in Rugby.

“My husband was a master cue maker for Samsara Cues in Nashua, New Hampshire. They made billiard cues. They started in our basement. They moved to a new building on his partner’s land, then they had to build an even bigger facility, and it reached the point that even that wasn’t big enough,” Doucette said.

Doucette said her husband and his business partner, Jim Stadum, discovered they needed to move from New Hampshire to stay in operation.

Stadum is originally from Esmond and his wife, Laurie, grew up in Rugby.

“They said to me, ‘Would you consider moving to North Dakota?’ I came out here and fell in love with North Dakota.”

“In fact, technically, my husband Dave and I are retired, and we’re still here,” she added.

Doucette said her mother moved to Rugby as well.

When asked how her family handles North Dakota winters, Doucette said,

“The weather here is like what we had in New Hampshire when we were kids. It warmed up there. They’re telling me this isn’t as bad as it used to be here, either,” she said.

Doucette added, “When we moved in 2000, we got here November 20th and the first week we were here, they were already knee-deep in snow, and the temperature was 20 below. And we stayed. My husband keeps saying, ‘the house is warm, the cars are warm and where we’re going is warm. What’s the problem?'”

When we first came out here, Backstage (gallery) still existed, and I told them I was moving to Rugby. They said, ‘why?’ And I opened up my book, and I showed the owner my work. She said, ‘I know you!’ She recognized my artwork, which is nice, because my artwork is quite distinguishable. My artwork had been in some magazines.”

Doucette said she recently submitted some of her work to an art magazine called “The Splash.”

“I sent some pictures in, and I’m hoping they’ll accept at least one for their new book, Book 22. That’s quite an honor,” she said. “I had a flag painting in Book 5.”

Doucette said when she arrived in North Dakota, she felt honored to have her work accepted by the Red River Watercolor Society in Fargo.

Doucette said Red River Watercolor Society members “were amazed that the New England Watercolor Society considers Red River a distinguished group and it’s quite an honor to be accepted into their group and in their art shows. They’re considered a national, if not international group.”

Doucette said her work has been displayed locally at Merchants Bank.

Framed watercolors by Doucette now hang on walls in Market on Main and unframed pieces are on display at Rugby’s Rockin’ Relics.

“Rugby is very interested in the arts,” Doucette said. “You can see by Village Arts, the paintings by different artists; they’re very interested in the arts.”

Doucette said she was a member of art groups in New Hampshire and began an art group in Rugby.

The group met regularly “for about two years, we had it going, but the winter got bad, and we just put it off. I think going every week was a little too much.”

Health issues in Doucette’s family have also slowed things down for her, she said.

“I keep telling people life just gets in the way.”

Doucette said she had enjoyed getting together with local artists. “I might try to get the group going again, just once a month.”

“Marilyn Niewoehner was one of the artists (in the group). Kathy Blessum was another; Fern Benson was another from out of town, so whoever was available came. That’s where we shared ideas, we shared information about other shows, we’d critique each other’s work, we would just try to be helpful with each other as a group. We were always ready to pat one another on the back.”

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