Farmingtonmdash; Carl Purcell, a watercolor artist and teacher from Manti, Utah, stood in front of a small crowd jammed into the back room at Three Rivers Art Center on Thursday evening. Purcell lifted his brush to the canvas and began the lesson.

Purcell, who has been teaching at Snow College for 30 years, traveled to Farmington to teach a watercolor demonstration.

The yellows, greens and oranges began to take the shape of a river and trees amidst sandstone cliffs.

"I love the rhythmic cracks in rock formations ... to me it's symphonic," Purcell said. "I stand there and look at it and I can almost hear the music,"

 Carl Purcell, from Manti, Utah, talks about art and water color durign a painting demonstartion, Thursday, June 27, 2013, at the Three Rivers Art Center &
Carl Purcell, from Manti, Utah, talks about art and water color durign a painting demonstartion, Thursday, June 27, 2013, at the Three Rivers Art Center & In Cahoots! Gallery in Farmington. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

Purcell told the audience one of the things he loves about nature is that it seems to be unpredictable.

"What is it that makes every snowflake different?" Purcell asked.

One audience member asked about the type of canvas Purcell was using.

"My favorite surface is 140 pound arches rough," Purcell said.

Then he proceeded to explain how the surface got its name. A reem of the paper weighs 140 pounds and the paper is made to have arches. Purcell said he likes the way the paint pools in the surface's "valleys and hills."

"I like the physical drag of the brush on that surface," Purcell added.

Adding to the appeal, the canvas is made from cotton.

"No tree died in the making of this," Purcell said.

However, Purcell added that the canvas is not for everyone and each artist has their own favorite surface.

"Whether an artist likes a certain surface or not has nothing to do with the quality," Purcell said.

At one point, Purcell looked at his painting and commented on how it looked abstract at that point.

"The whole world is abstract," Purcell said.

He talked about how rust patterns and patterns of mold on gourds create abstract designs and have been around longer than artists.

"Everything we see has affected us in someway or another," Purcell said.

The world, he said, is made up of patterns.

"Right now I'm not painting things," Purcell said. "I'm painting the way light and dark falls on them."

To Purcell, art is magic. He will put a few marks down and it will start to resemble something.

While many painters believe in always working light to dark or dark to light, Purcell said he works with whatever the painting needs.

He proceeded to put some of the darkest colors he had onto the pale hues already on his canvas.

Purcell said he doesn't even like to use the word always.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover.