The first time Brookings watercolor artist Dale Wells entered a painting in a county fair he didn't see it hung with the other paintings.
Wells, who had only begun painting six months prior, figured fair organizers thought the piece wasn't good enough to show.
After looking at the rest of the pieces, Wells walked through the special section area where all of the blue ribbons winners were hung andndash; there was his painting. Wells was a first place winner.
Today, after painting for 25 years, Wells doesn't consider himself an artist.
"I consider myself a student of art," he said.
Art is a hobby for Wells, not a career.
He likes to paint watercolors of cars (he worked in the auto industry for 30 years), and with humor, but nothing is off limits.
"Nothing is sacred," Wells said. "I'll paint anything."
He'll paint on anything, too.
Growing up, he drew pickups and tractors on the back of signposts. While serving in the U.S. Army, Wells sketched officers.
He also took a few art classes in high school and junior college.
"I've always doodled and sketched," he said. "I (find) it very rewarding."
Wells also would look at art and paintings and think to himself "That just can't be that difficult to do."
Prior to retiring, his wife signed him up for a watercolor class as a Christmas present.
Once he moved to Brookings, Wells enrolled in a workshop, Basic Training for Watercolorists, with watercolor instructor Liz James.
In the workshop, Wells met Brookings artist Horst Wolf.
The two became instant friends.
"He's calm, kind, always helps other people, helps other artists, helps out in the community," Wolf said. "He doesn't like to be much in the public light. He doesn't like fancy titles."
Watercolorist Audi Stanton described Wells similarly.
"I personally call him Mr. Nice Guy," Stanton said. "He's very, very helpful, and a very kind person.
"He has a fresh approach to a lot of his paintings. His work is very well-received, and he does a variety of things. It's very nice work."
Wells is a member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon, and has shown his work in the Coos Art Museum, the bi-annual Watercolor Society of Oregon shows, Manley Art Center, Brian Scott Gallery, Wrights Custom Framing and Art Supplies, Gold Beach Books and the Tsunami Gallery near Reedsport, Wolf said.
After meeting, Wells and Wolf enjoyed traveling together to show work. If Wolf was showing, he would always try to get Wells to join, Wells said.
On one trip, the pair traveled to North Bend and attended an art walk.
They said to one another "we could do that much better in Brookings," Wolf said.
The two then came back to Brookings, and started the monthly art walks.
"Dale was very instrumental," Wolf said. "He convinced people it was a good idea."
Eventually, Wells reached a point where entering contests wasn't as important as it once was, he said.
He just enjoys the creating.
He doesn't bother with keeping the awards he has won, either andndash; they are put on the back of the paintings.
"I've always been overwhelmed at acceptance," Wells said. "Overwhelmed at the fact of being recognized."