Watercolorist Pearl Haskett Loved The Roar Of Seafair Boats

Pearl Haskett loved the smell of paint, and the lilting arrangement of color, light and line she could bring to paper or canvas.

But Mrs. Haskett, an award-winning artist of the California School of the '40s, also delighted in the roar of race engines, whether of cars or boats, and in the pomp and polish of military life.

She managed to indulge all those loves - and rear eight children - in her 77 years, which ended Jan. 27 in a house fire in Olympia. Her husband, Maj. Gen. George M. Haskett (Ret.), also died in the fire.

"She was interested in drawing since she was a girl growing up in Newport Beach, Calif.," said her son, Patrick of Seattle. "Watercolor abstracts were her specialty, and Impressionistic scenes - like one of rooftops with a cat - that were fluid, rounded, similar to works by Thomas Hart Benton."

Mrs. Haskett, who competed on her high-school swim team and posed at 14 as a beach model for art students, attended Los Angeles-area art schools. She also earned a place on the 1940 Olympics swim team in the 400-meter medley. But World War II intervened and the Olympics were put on hold.

She poured her energy into painting watercolors of the California scene, becoming part of a group known as the California School.

"She knew Man Ray and other name artists from her art-school days," said her son. "Later, she knew Ken Callahan, Guy Anderson, Morris Graves, William Cumming."

In addition to oils and watercolors, Mrs. Haskett also produced mosaics.

Her work has appeared in San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor and the De Young Museum; Santa Barbara's Museum of Fine Arts; Olympia's State Capitol Museum and the Seattle Art Museum.

She married near the war's end, and moved to Budd Inlet in Olympia. Her son, George Haskett Jr. of Olympia, said at home she mostly painted. But she also supported the Washington National Guard and youth programs and liked motor sports.

"She thought it was the neatest thing from the '50s on to watch the Seafair races," said George Haskett Jr. "We'd come up to Seattle to see them, or watch them on TV, and she'd holler when the time trials came live on TV. We used to joke she would stop the coronation of the queen to watch."

Several sons and grandsons are in sports - including boat, car and motorcycle racing. Others collect art, a value she taught them early.

"Her art rubbed off on all the kids in varying degrees, from abstract to mechanical," said George Haskett Jr. "We were designing race vehicles, or designing race scenes. Patrick does military and naval art. Our other brother, Michael in Vimmerby, Sweden, also paints."

Patrick Haskett said she rode him hard, but he treasures her advice:

"Don't ever give art away, or it won't be valued."

Other survivors include sons Jim Stott of Westlake Village, Calif.; Larry Stott of Albuquerque; John Haskett of Honolulu; daughters Elizabeth Reas and Sarah Zerby, Olympia; brother Art Cozens of Long Beach, Calif.; 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services have been held.