GASPORT — One afternoon a few weeks ago, Kathy Giles was slightly confused when a package from International Artist magazine was delivered to her house. Giles had sent in a 10-page article, “Watercolor Insights,” that she wrote for the magazine, along with an accompanying painting, but she hadn’t heard anything as to when the story might be published.

Giles was in for a nice surprise when she opened the box — “Watercolor Insights” was the magazine’s cover story and her painting, “Woman in the Yellow Shirt,” graces the cover.

“I said, ‘Could they have put me in the magazine and not even told me?’ “ Giles said of her initial confusion upon receiving the package. “Then I opened it up, and there I was on the cover. It was amazing; I was screaming. It was very exciting.”

The cover story is the latest high point in Giles’ evolving career as a watercolor artist, as the Lockport native and Gasport resident has steadily risen to prominence on the national watercolor scene over the past few years.

For most of her life, Giles was content with her role on the local scene, painting on a commission basis (including a series portraying the Erie Canal locks) and teaching watercolor classes at the Dale Association, Market Street Art Center and currently at the Kenan Center.

About five years ago, Giles decided to test her skills on a national level. A first step was gaining acceptance into the National Watercolor Society, which required submitting three matted original paintings in a similar style and having them approved by the society.

They were. Giles maintains her membership, and this year she had a painting selected to be part of the society’s traveling show.

Encouraged by her admittance into the National Watercolor Society, as well as the American Watercolor Society, Giles decided to begin entering competitions on a national level.

A big break came when she won second place in International Artist’s floral competition last year, which earned her a two-page spread in American Art Collector magazine.

Boosted by her exposure from that spread, Giles was asked by International Artist magazine to write a 10-page article on the process of creating a watercolor painting.

Needless to say, she was thrilled.

“It was a dream come true for me,” Giles said. “So exciting … I had never done anything like that before. I was excited and a little overwhelmed.”

She also submitted “Woman in the Yellow Shirt” to this year’s Lewiston Art Festival, and the painting took first place in the festival’s watercolor division.

Giles is hosting her 18th annual Open Studio and Gallery from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 23 at 2336 Hartland Road. For more information, call 795-9368.

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