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  • July 17, 2020 12:09 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    WAS-H is so fortunate to have a long list of amazingly talented teachers who so generously and energetically share their knowledge with us on a regular basis. It’s a pleasure to be able to pay tribute to them at this time and to give their students an opportunity to display works created under their tutelage. Since work done with a teacher is not allowed in our other shows, this gives our members who are not yet working independently the experience of having their work displayed, critiqued and, perhaps, being awarded a prize.

    This year’s show was certainly a welcome distraction as we began our fifth month of COVID-19 restrictions that kept our brick and mortar gallery closed. What better way to energize us than by working with our talented membership and realizing that our creative juices keep flowing despite adversity.

    The process of presenting a virtual show has been a challenge that a group of our multi-talented volunteers has met with tenacity, enthusiasm, humor, patience. There’s been a lot of learning-as-you-go! Special thanks go to Karen Stopnicki, our Website Director, Sally Holt, Volunteer Director, Cissy Geigerman, volunteer extraordinaire, Nancy McMillian, Gallery co-Director, and, of course, Beth Graham, our President who’s vision and energy keep us going.

    We were so happy to welcome our talented member, Tamara D. Kontrimas, as judge this month. Tamara’ love for art began as a child and was found again in 1995 after she had pursued a successful law career and raised her children. Her work uses strong design, radiant washes and precise attention to detail to create bold observational paintings. Houston artist and teacher, Arthur Turner, described her works as being “composed and executed like the well-chosen and meaningful lines in a memorable written work—a great novel or insightful poem.” Tamara has exhibited her works in solo and group national and international exhibits including the Transparent Watercolor Society of America’s Annual Exhibit, the National Weather Center Biennial, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and WAS-H International Show. Her works are in several private collections in the U.S. and Canada. She currently works out of her studios in Sugar Land, Texas and Nova Scotia, Canada.

    Tamara’s words about the winners are so perfect that I would like to share them with you here as she wrote them.


    “Comments: I feel this piece has taken a piece of paper and transformed it into the very thing that is depicted creating a painting that feels almost sculptural. The artist has combined strong observational ability with beautiful command of the medium. The flutiness of the edges, texture of the petals, movement between and within shapes are combined beautifully with both restraint and specificity in a way that makes one truly experience the lushness of peonies.”


    “Comments: What I love about this piece is that it shows us the extraordinary in the ordinary. The piece is neither fussy nor posed. The artist has used a scene most viewers would not necessarily notice and taken us by the hand and said, “Now hold on a minute. Look closer.” The play of light and texture draw us in. Simple things like the light on the lower steps, the wedge of dark in the middle area and the texture of the wall become exceptional. Suddenly the viewer feels he is on an exotic vacation feeling the sun on his skin.”


    “Comments: I was drawn to the intensity of the character. It’s as though you’ve just challenged the Chieftain and found yourself slayed by his gaze. The strong light source from the left, the contrast between the white of the facial hair and the skin tones create strong drama and make the piece really shine. The eyes portray both ferocity and wisdom. The brushstrokes are bold and confident. The artist has surrounded his exceptional portrait with a background that enhances the figure with areas of both restraint and definition.”


    “Comments: I was attracted to the freshness and vitality of the piece. The artist’s brushstrokes are very confident and loose while maintaining intentionality. The eye travels easily and naturally through the piece with the entry point of the large figure in the lower left and the two smaller figures in the upper right. The strong values and details in the foreground are balanced well with the less specific but very nicely done figures in the distance. I love the glow the yellow glow and the authenticity of the palette. Overall the piece gives me a feeling that the artist is painting a place with which she is familiar. I was also impressed by the size of the piece and I feel it is expressive of the animals it portrays.”


    “Comments: This is a nice bold composition with impactful depth and value. The very delicately colored flowers are contrasted with the dark background which darkens in value as it moves to the upper right. There are nice value exchanges between the flowers denoting petals that lie either under or over one another. The light is handled beautifully on each petal particularly where the white of the paper is allowed to shine through.”

    Congratulations to all of our winners!

    The August and September prospectuses are posted. Check them out here and make plans to enter a show soon. It’s a great way to support our amazing organization and to stay connected. Hope we are able to meet in person again soon!

  • July 17, 2020 12:04 PM | Ksenia Annis

    Luiza Grandchamp won the FIRST PLACE award for painting “NICOLE’S PEONIES”; she wrote for us:

    When my daughter Nicole found out I was painting flowers in my WAS-H Watercolor Class, she sent me several photos of her the beautiful peonies of her garden. Those photos inspired me to create the composition for my painting. During class, Susan Giannatonio provided me with great insight and knowledge of watercolor flowers.  Her paintings are impressive and very inspiring.  After finishing my watercolor of peonies, Susan encouraged me to enter it into the July student show and I did!  I am very grateful for that suggestion and, of course, for her classes this summer. Getting this award from WAS-H was so such an honor and quite unexpected. Winning first place with my very first watercolor was just magical!

    Bill Curtis was awarded the SECOND PLACE for “TEMPLE MOUNT STEPS”, here is what he wrote:

    The Temple Mount painting was done at the suggestion of my watercolor instructor, Artist Mark Stewart. Mark’s painting appears very realistic but is actually made of a myriad of more abstract splotches, splashes and techniques specific to the gesture he is trying to achieve. Mark’s work, in my opinion, is heavily influenced, visually and compositionally, by the paintings of Andrew Wyeth.

    The temple Mount image is a photograph Mark took while vacationing in Jerusalem. The decision to paint this photo came about the time of the initial stay-at-home-COVID experience in Houston. As such, Mark and I determined to do a virtual painting session. He and I would talk on the phone about the image, then hang up and paint to the point we discussed. We then snapped photos with our cameras and texted them back and forth for discussion, followed by more discussion, painting and repeat. The interesting thing was determining the wash colors to achieve the painting as these were verbal instructions to me from Mark, and who knew if my mixing efforts were similar to his.

    The under washes were with Raw Siena, followed by washes utilizing Burnt Umber, Sepia and French Ultramarine Blue to achieve the various shades of the rocks and shadows.

    The whole painting was done in the above method and was completed at a choreographed distance.

    Zahid Shaikh, who was awarded the THIRD PLACE for “TRIBAL CHIEFTAIN” wrote:

    I was delighted to win third place among all the students in the July show! A special thanks and much gratitude to Tamara for her encouraging words. Here are a few words regarding my painting of the Tribal Chieftain.

    The focus of this portrait was to convey a sense of authority and wisdom in the tribal leader's demeanor. It's all in the eyes, something I learned from master portrait artist and instructor Mohammed Bhatti. Under Carla Gauthier's tutelage I also learned to move out of my comfort zone and apply bold, loose strokes, without going into excruciating detail. She also guided me in the use of basic design principles, which I applied to the face, and used connecting values in the background.

  • July 13, 2020 10:12 AM | Ksenia Annis

    Don't miss our August online art show! Submissions open July 27th and close July 29th. You can find all the info on Monthly Gallery Exhibit page here. We also have detailed instructions for preparing your digital entry and volunteers will be available at the help desk if you have any questions. Share your work with WAS-H community and win prizes!

    You can also get a head start on your submission for the September show. The prospectus is posted as well and the theme is general.

    Click here to see the August 2020 show prospectus

    Click here to see the September 2020 show prospectus

  • July 03, 2020 2:51 PM | Ksenia Annis

    Please take a minute to fill out our Members Survey! It will help us better meet your needs in 2020 during these challenging times. You can do it on computer or on a mobile device.

    CLICK HERE to Take Survey

  • July 03, 2020 2:49 PM | Ksenia Annis

    We are surrounded by images that would make beautiful paintings:

    • Books and media publications
    • Instructional videos (DVDs and online)
    • Calendars
    • Artist’s web sites
    • Internet sites (travel, food, florals, animals, undersea, photography)

    However, in ALL of these cases, “All rights are reserved.” The publisher or artist or photographer does NOT grant permission for someone to use their image to create a painting and enter it in a show.  One can look at these images to see, for example, exactly how a porcupine’s spines spread out, or a close up of dragonfly wings veining, but you can’t copy the photograph.

    We all have access to many books and DVDs and love practicing our painting skills and seeing if we can achieve the same look as the artist. Painters have copied the masters for centuries, and they will continue to do that to continue to improve as painters. But those paintings are for personal growth, not for shows.

    At WAS-H, we bend those guidelines very slightly to allow students to enter our annual Student Exhibit, with paintings done from instructor images and/or compositions. The instructor uses their personal photographs and gives permission for the students to use them. This is the only exception to the Reference Image criteria. Instructors on videos do not grant this permission.

  • July 01, 2020 9:50 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Beth Graham, WAS-H President

    Dear Friends,

    Our June Exhibit, the first held online, was a great success thanks to all the artists who entered 147 paintings, and to the gallery team led by Paula Fowler. Helping her were Karen Stopnicki, website director, Nancy McMillan, gallery chair, Cissy Geigerman, Sally Hoyt, and Martin Butler. We have already sold 4 paintings from the show and hope to continue this trend as buyers discover us online. We continue to practice social distancing, so the sales occur online, the artist drops the painting off by appointment at WAS-H, and the buyer later picks it up by appointment. All sales occur online. If you haven’t yet viewed the exhibit, I encourage you to browse through the beautiful work.

    The July Student Exhibit will also be held solely online. Be sure to carefully read the prospectus to see who is eligible to enter this show. WAS-H is the only watercolor society that holds a student show to encourage new painters to share their work and experience the gallery exhibit experience. All WAS-H teachers are asked to submit one painting (no fee). It can be one that is currently for sale, or one no longer available for sale. Show us your favorites!

    Our early summer workshop offerings organized by Nicole Hansen, education director, are by instructors who have the technology to teach online from their home studio: Ksenia Annis, Ed Pettit, Susan Giannantonio, and Ellen Orseck. Coming soon from their home studios are classes with Peihong Endris and Laura Spector.

    Mid-July we will have our newest hardware installed that will enable us to bring the rest of our teachers (and new ones, too) to the building to offer online classes. Carla Gauthier will be our first artist to try out the new setup and she is planning several classes. Once that is working, we expand our offerings. You will be able to register for these as usual, and view at home through Zoom and our Youtube channel.

    Our October AME workshop artist, Don Andrews, is a fellow Texan from Bastrop and is willing to wait to see what the end of September brings before we make any decisions about his week-long workshop with us: hold it upstairs, offer it online, a combination of the two, postpone, or cancel.

    As the number of Covid cases began to decline at the end of May, I wondered if we had been wasting our time exerting so much effort toward our online presence, but the sudden and rapid escalation of cases have reminded me that we may need this approach into the fall & possibly winter.

    These numbers break my heart as I worry about our friends and family and fellow Americans that are facing increased chances of illness and unemployment. But for selfish reasons, I am really missing the time spent with fellow painters in classes, monthly meetings, demos, model lab, open studio, art for seniors, hanging artwork and enjoying receptions. I have made so many wonderful friends in our artist community and truly miss the time spent with others who love art! One silver lining is that our online offerings allow members who are far away or who cannot travel to our building to join us in many ways previously unavailable. We will keep this as a part of our way to doing business. I am thankful for that.  I hope and pray for a quick return to our ability to gather together, visit, eat, drink, and paint. In the meantime…

    Stay well, stay safe, and keep painting!

  • June 17, 2020 12:38 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    Our gallery may be closed, but behind the scenes, our volunteers have been working nonstop to keep WAS-H the same warm and exciting place we all know and love. The serendipitous outcome of our challenging time is the opening of our very first online show, "Views Through the Windows of Our Isolation". Special thanks during this development process must go to our President, Beth Graham, our Technology Director, Karen Stopniki, the WAS-H Administrative Assistant, Martin Butler and faithful volunteers, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigermann and Nancy McMillan. We hope that you enjoy the ease with which you can now share your work with your family, friends and potential buyers. This is a big step, and we were so excited to see the images of the wonderful paintings as they came in, all 147 of them. Everyone was so patient when we had to tweak the entry process. We'll continue to work to make this easier each time.

    Our judge, Cookie Wells has a BS in Commercial Art from Lamar University and spent 30 years in the commercial graphic world before turning to watercolor. She’s a member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society and of Women in Visual and Literary Arts. Her work can be seen at Archway Gallery. Cookie accepted the challenge of doing her first online judging and was amazed at the quality of the work. She said that she looked at the images mostly through the eyes of this isolation and all that brings into our experience. She then stepped away and visualized what stood out in her mind. From that process, she chose the following:

    For the First Place, she chose Helen Beacham's "Attitude". She shared that it was an "exceptional painting...so strong. The modern, loose, wet background against the technically superbly painted child. The attitude of the child says it all..."

    Second Place went to Chaitanya Alli for "Relaxing afternoon". Cookie said it was a great representation of our isolation and that "the colors are remarkable." She loved " the dark/light contrasts. A really beautiful painting".

    Honored with Third Place was Linda McDonald's "My Front Door in Lockdown". Cookie loved "the simple but strong statement this painting makes. Wonderful wet background, nicely painted packages. Great contrast." She felt it was a statement of our world today.

    Honorable Mentions were awarded to:

    Terri Colangelo - "Rush Hour - March 2020"

    Diane Cox - "Waiting to Go Out Again"

    Cheryl Evans - "Shelter in Place - Painting in the Time of Pandemic Series"

    Barbara Hall - "Self Portrait"

    Laurie Hammons - "Looking Out My Bedroom Window"

    Hiep Nguyen - "Spring is Still Out There"

    Zahid Shaikh - "Lockdown Blues"

    See all the entries here.

  • June 17, 2020 12:35 PM | Ksenia Annis

    Helen Beacham, who won the First Place with her painting "Attitude", wrote:
    Every painting offers its own set of challenges. I only just recently (3 years ago?) started painting figures and I admit it's still stressful for me.

    My challenge with this figure was to a) to make sure she still looked like a little girl and not a short grownup, and b) to avoid making her right leg look cut off, but rather like it's bent back against the wall.

    I tend to work in lots of layers. I start out pale all over and see if I like the color layout before committing to darker colors. I hone in on the focal point by making sure all my other areas are only supporting characters. The three intuitive but highly accidental 3 black strokes near her face help my eye to go to her face (I say "accidental" because they were much lighter marks as seen elsewhere in the graffiti, at which point I had to decide whether to leave them alone, wash them out or make them darker. I chose to make them even darker and use them as a tool. A bit risky...). I also placed a shadow dark next to her right cheek, again to draw attention to her pouty face. The graffiti itself was a challenge and I chose to paint it by using mostly wet into wet strokes.

    Helen's art can be found on www.HelenKBeacham.com and www.HelenKBeacham.blogspot.com

    Linda McDonald, winner of the Third Place with her painting "My Front Door in Lockdown", sent us the following:

    After considering June’s theme of isolation, I wanted to capture elements of that period that we all experienced. While I was out cycling around my neighborhood, I noticed a number of familiar boxes left on the doorsteps which gave me inspiration for this painting.

    I decided on the general details and set about finding the right doorway to paint. While the boxes looked abandoned, I wanted to contrast them with the right front door, walkway and light with the resulting shadows. I went back to the same location to study the evening light for the shadows while watching how the sun fell. I changed the door to have an arch, as it worked better and provided contrast to the shapes of the boxes. I also felt the shadows had to originate on the opposite side of the door and the Amazon boxes, as they were the focal point of the painting. Working with complimentary colors providing warm and cool areas.

    I felt that everyone could relate to the key components of the painting, but importantly, it really was fun to work on during this extraordinary period of our lives.

    Barbara Hall, who received an honorable mention for her "Self-Portrait", wrote:

    Since we’ve been on lockdown, my studio mates and I have been taking turns assigning ourselves subjects for paintings. We text photos of our work and have a weekly critique via Zoom. The painting for which I received Honorable Mention was the result of a self-portrait assignment. I chose to use mostly black and white with a splash of color to reflect my mood at the time - a bit down in the dumps, but optimistic we’ll get through these trying times. I also wanted to convey the importance of artists in a crisis. They document what’s happening, inspire others, and express complicated emotions.

    Zahid Shaikh, who was awarded an honorable mention for "Lockdown Blues", wrote:
    I wanted to convey an expression of loneliness and desperation during the current pandemic, especially among the empty-nester seniors in society. I used the predominant blue color to enhance the feeling of isolation.

  • May 31, 2020 9:08 PM | Ksenia Annis

       Dear WAS-H Members & Friends,

    I hope this letter finds you and your friends & family safe and healthy. This wish is so much more meaningful this year, isn’t it? I am pleased and honored to serve as WAS-H’s President for the 2020-2021 year. I am also very grateful for the Past Presidents, Kathleen Church, Laura McMahon, & Louise Bateman, and to all previous WAS-H leaders with whom I have served with over the last 4 years. I am so thankful for our Board of Directors, for their leadership and their faithful volunteer service to our mission of promoting watercolor art. I am indebted to them for the support they so graciously provide.

    We might call this “The Year of the Corona Virus.” The challenges it has brought to us this year could cause us to stumble and fall or to adapt and thrive. The question is, “Are we nimble enough to quickly respond to the new circumstances and end up with new opportunities?”

    My answer is “YES!” Instead of pulling the wagons around and hunkering down to wait for a return to normalcy, we have set about recreating our new normal. We spent the six weeks from March 15-April 30 learning with other cultural arts and non-profit organizations how to:

    • create safe spaces for our members

    • grow membership

    • continue our wonderful painting classes and workshops while in isolation

    • continue our monthly gallery exhibits

    • use online technology such as ZOOM, our own YouTube channel, and OBS broadcasting to provide events & instruction delivered direct into your home

    It has been exhausting work, but also invigorating. While researching ways to create our new normal, we held these events:

    • general meeting, with voting, and online art demo

    • “20 in 20” painting challenge over Facebook & Instagram (Karen Armstrong, social media)

    • 10 pilot online art classes shared via ZOOM, with participants from at least 7 states (Education Director, Nicole Hansen)

    We have been immersed in mastering new technology and hardware that will soon allow WAS-H to broadcast each of our teachers from the WAS-H classroom out to homes across the country. When we can return to holding on-site, in person classes, we might also broadcast the classes to others in their homes. The possibilities are still a bit like Star Trek, “going where no one has gone before.”

    Due to quarantining, we had to cancel our April and May gallery exhibits, but we used that time to figure out how to do take-in, judging, and awards all digitally, protecting the health of members and staff, while showcasing the beautiful work of our member artists over the internet. Today “take-in” registration opens online for our June show. Directions are on our home page and we are keeping our fingers crossed that there won’t be too many glitches. The Gallery team, under the direction of Paula Fowler, has tested all the procedures and are piloting a Help Desk to guide members through this new approach. As we explore all these new ways to be, we ask you to be patient & understanding with those leading meetings & classes, as we are all learning.

    The Board of Directors was unanimous is deciding to keep our two employees and our three contract workers on the payroll during this season of isolation. Our administrative assistant, Martin Butler, has been checking in at the building weekly, answering voice messages and emails, and will continue to work at home thanks to technology, until such time as it is safe for us to return to our wonderful facility. Be sure to check that we have your current email, address, and phone number in our directory, as this is our main means of communication. Martin can help you with any of these.

    We continue to see members renewing their membership, making it possible for us to continue our work during this challenging time. Thank you!

    Around the world and across faiths spring is always considered a time of renewal, rebirth, growth and abundance. The WAS-H community has many blessings and I count the unwavering support of our members, our volunteers, and directors to sustain us through these times of unprecedented challenge and the difficult days that may still lie ahead. Please know that we are working hard behind the scenes to offer new opportunities and we are counting the days until we can safely welcome you back. Join us for our online meetings, online demos, online classes and exhibits, until that time.

    Stay well, stay safe, and keep painting!

    Beth Graham
    WAS-H President

  • May 31, 2020 9:05 PM | Ksenia Annis

    By Paula Fowler and Nancy McMillan, Gallery Co-Directors

    As we excitedly launch our first online show for WAS-H this June, we’re also looking ahead to July and August shows. We’re uncertain at this time when the gallery will be open again. The board is carefully monitoring health and safety recommendations of the city and will keep you posted on when we can gather in person again. With that in mind, we are planning that the July show will be online. A prospectus for each of these summer shows will be posted soon. So that you can begin planning, here are the themes:

    JULY SHOW THEME: Student Show/Teacher Appreciation

    AUGUST SHOW THEME: From My Studio

    We look forward to seeing your entries. Remember, for the student show, your work can have been done during a class.

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