by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
Once a month at the Watercolor Artists Society – Houston a show gets hung in our gallery or, as in the case of our Covid years, on our website. Ten of these shows are open entry. The other two premier shows, the International Watermedia Exhibition and the Annual Members Exhibition, have a juried entry. All the shows offer the opportunity to sell your work, possibly win an award and to share your work with your family and friends and they are a core part of the WAS-H culture and camaraderie. So it is with great pleasure that a dedicated group of volunteers gather behind the scenes to make this all happen.
The morning that the February 2022 show, with a theme of A Few of My Favorite Things, was hung was a beautiful winter Saturday morning in Houston. I arrived at the gallery early and the building was already abuzz with the energy of the scheduled paint-in with Linda Jarnagin in session upstairs. Downstairs in the gallery, our Artist Liaison, Laura Mossman, had previously arranged this month’s 52 entries on the floor, leaning against the walls all around the gallery. I stood alone taking them all in. What a great feeling to see all these potential winners and to see how they interpreted the theme.
The fun part is about to start. It’s like a big puzzle, really. Arrange the works so that they flow around the room with pleasing color transition, complementary genres, and aesthetic balance of sizes. Oh, and make sure this is equally spaced on the available walls. This is quite an iterative process, and the painting are ultimately moved around a lot.
When my Co-Director, Nancy McMillian, and the volunteers (Patty Armstrong, Leisa Patin, Irene Sheytman, and Donna Dean) arrived, we dove in. Everyone has a say and, believe me, everyone has an opinion! We pick some larger eye-catchers to anchor the walls and go from there. Sometimes what feels like it will work, doesn’t look so good from across the room. Some paintings are moved over and over. We agree, disagree, laugh, chat, and have a really
wonderful time. After over two hours, we hang the last painting, step back and have a quiet look at another great show. It’s magical! I love this job!
At this time, our judge, Alison Hendry, arrived and we cleared the gallery of all people so that she could spend time with the works alone. She had so many “Favorite Things” to consider: beautiful landscapes, florals, beloved pets, prized grandchildren. After another hour or so, she was done, and we had another group of winners to call with the good news!
Alison was an exceptional person to work with. As a Signature Member of WAS-H, she knows a lot about what makes a painting a winner and her comments were both insightful and educational. She born and raised in Canada. Her rocket-scientist father, who is also an artist, presented her with her first paint set when she was eleven. After earning degrees in Biology and Nursing, she worked in Obstetrics until she retired. After she moved to Houston, she got her introduction to watercolor and to WAS-H from one of our favorite artists and teachers, Ellen Orseck. She has subsequently won many awards, including the President's award for the AME in 2020 and a gift award in the IWE 2021. She was also accepted into the Houston Visual Arts Alliance online show in 2021.
We owe Alison many thanks for the numerous ways she helped us with this show. The following are her comments about the winners:
First Place – Palmetto by Fontaine Jacobs
“Bold confident strokes, excellently rendered in a striking composition full of movement on an extremely difficult surface. I noticed it immediately across the room and loved the warm tones on the right that played well with the cooler darker greens with great shadows and light. “
Second Place – Cedar Creek Wimberley by Erik Sproghe
“Masterful technique in every part, from the light on the water, where I swear I see a face in the bold colors of the bank, to the interesting viewpoint across the tree that draws us to the soft focal point of the bridge. “
Third Place - Grapevine by Zahid Shaikh
“Love the mixture of abstraction of the leaves and the representational of the grapes. Subtle darks and highlights on the grapes, the colors used, the negative painted leaves and all those drips kept me interested and looking for a long time. “
Honorable Mention – Sophie by Robin Avery
“The diagonal bold solid masses of color for the background set off the expertly rendered sweet smiling happy dog. Love the eyes and the opaque nature of the paint. Made me smile to look at it. “
Honorable Mention – Trail Creek Winter by Fred Kingwill
“This made me feel cold just looking at it, but brought back wonderful memories of childhood and snowshoeing in the woods. The snow on the pines is fabulously painted and the composition is excellent. I feel the heaviness and quiet of the forest covered in snow. “
Honorable Mention – Lazing on the Llano by Kathleen Church
“Loved the loose impressionistic style with strokes of color confidently applied. The yellow fields and bright blue water in the background draw the eye in from the cool greys of the foreground. Excellent composition. “
Honorable Mention – Love Locks at Sunset by Nan Wright
“Interesting viewpoint through the fence of the locks to the water. The warmth of the light in the background pulls us through and then the cool dark fence pops the eye back again. Great movement. I noticed the further back I stood the more details emerged. “
Thanks Volunteers: Please join me is once again in thanking all the volunteers that make our shows happen and give some thought to joining us in the process soon. If you are interested in joining in, sign up on the SignUpGenius on our homepage.