By Cissy Geigerman, WAS-H Gallery Co-Director
How’s the weather? Well, it varies as you can tell from the many versions of paintings for this month’s “Skies”. The challenge was to paint any rendition of a sky and we did have a beautiful array of choices. We had stormy skies, clear skies, starry skies, and sunsets, to name a few. Many thanks to our volunteers this month, Mansueto Fabugais and Paula Fowler.
Our judge for this show was Frank Billingsley, currently a meteorologist for KPRC Houston. He was named a “Houston Treasure” in 2018 and a “Houston Legend” by Houston City Book in 2021. Frank’s career includes Best Weathercaster awards from the Associated Press, the Houston Press Club, the Houston Press Newspaper and the Dallas Press Club. In 2020 Frank became an honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy, the highest honor the governor of Texas can bestow on any citizen. Besides his meteorological expertise, Frank has also become a champion of men’s health through sharing his own experience of prostate cancer and has advocated for adoptees in his book Swabbed & Found: An Adopted Man’s Journey to Discover His Family Tree (Bright Sky Press, 2017). Out of Frank’s many accolades, his favorite recognition comes from the Houston Chronicle which has named Frank the “Ultimate Weatherman.”
The Gallery was very pleased to have so many entries for Mr. Billingsley to evaluate. He was impressed with the variety and range of talent presented, having been a painter himself.
Below are remarks from our judge and the artists.
1st place: Darlene Dittoe
“No Footprints, End of Summer”
Frank Billingsley- Excellent detail. Great use of color, light and reflection the whole work feels gentle and lonely.
Ms. Dittoe - I had a wonderful friend of 40 years who I lost last year. She and her husband lived in Delaware. I was visiting them a year ago in the fall and we had gone to the beach in Avalon, New Jersey. She and I were walking the beach hand in hand. I took many photos of that day and the painting is a compilation of several. Wonderful memories of a special friend and a special time.
Cissy Geigerman: This painting had communicative powers for Frank Billingsley. While not knowing the story behind it, Frank felt something with this painting.
2nd place: Fontaine Jacobs
Frank Billingsley – A lot of color here and I don’t like pink, but this grew on me. At the end, a bold and streaming work. I like the flow.
Fontaine Jacobs - I am always fascinated with clouds, they can really take your breath away. In twenty years of sailing, my husband and I saw many brilliant sunsets. This served as my inspiration for this painting. Unlike the judge, I do like pink and wanted to try out a new color combo. Getting a smooth transition of color on Yupo took a lot of paint and water, but the clouds lifted easily.
Frank Billingsley: My eye kept coming over to your painting, I could not deny the hold it had on me.
Fontaine Jacobs: Yes, I also said to myself “that’s a lot of pink!” I held onto it because it seemed to work with rest of what was there.
3rd Place: Robert Ruhmann
”The Old Barn”
Frank Billingsley – Not all sky has to have something going on. The artist chose a simple blue sky to showcase his talent for realism and it works.
Robert Ruhmann - This barn is located 15 miles north of Wharton, Texas. When I first saw it, I was very intrigued by the texture of the wood and the color of the roof. I could tell that it was very old and had been used for many years. I love to paint old barns because they are a big part of our nation's history. The most challenging part of the painting was the roof. I used a mixer of Burnt Sienna and Red Oxide.
Cissy Geigerman: This painting has a lot of detail. How long did it take you to paint it? Your style reminds me of Les McDonald do you know him?
Robert Ruhmann: I paint just about every day. This one took a day and a half. Yes, I know Les very well. We find ourselves together at art festivals and shows throughout the season.
Honorable Mention: Katie Steck
Frank Billingsley – This piece jumps out and I love the reflections.
Katie Steck – This was inspired by Houston’s amazing skyscapes with its emotive motion and simultaneous stillness. I named it Await so the viewer can decide if the ship is awaiting a storm or just perhaps awaiting adventure.
Honorable Mention: Mohammed Ali Bhatti
Frank Billingsley – Simple strokes to evoke a solid image. It is obvious this artist can draw. So many times a good painting starts with a good drawing.
Mohammed Ali Bhatti - I was inspired by this countryside view near Conroe. I like the simplicity and quietness of the scene. I took a few clicks and painted with the idea of “less is more”, in watercolor landscape painting. The lower part is active shades and contrasts to the calm sky.
Cissy Geigerman: Well yes, we know this artist can draw! He is a popular instructor here at WASH and we hope to enjoy his classes for a long while.
Honorable Mention: Rona Lesser
“Sunset on the River”
Frank Billingsley – Reflection is subtle yet- there and well done.
Rona Lesser – This was taken from a series of photos done on a Victory Cruise ship down the St. Lawrence Seaway. I chose this one for the composition of the contrast of the reflection and the dark lines of the tower. I slowly developed the sky and land forms, and used the same colors to get the water. I had to go back and emphasize the horizon line to separate it from the reflection. The final step was to add the power lines with watercolor pencil. The reflections and sky were done with lots of layers and wet onto wet.
Frank Billingsley: Did you turn the painting upside down to do the reflections?
Rona Lesser: No, I did it all together, but I did turn it upside down near the end to check if it looked all right.
September Show – BLUE
Our next show will feature that glorious color blue. This hue has a rich history of creation and is commonly associated with a range of particular feelings including tranquility, calmness, imagination, cold, distance, sadness, and peace. From ultramarine to azure, the color blue comes in a vast array of compelling color variations and subtle shifts in hue. While other colors are allowed in this show, each painting must feature the color blue as the predominant color, or as a prominent feature/focal point of the piece.