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  • February 15, 2020 3:48 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Shirl Riccetti

    Martha Carson, artist and WAS-H member, yet again, has found a unique workshop to enhance her art skills. This is her report of another very interesting workshop, with stories of “doing Art” the English way.


    This Fall I decided that I needed more time than my brief trip last year permitted in order to draw in London; I have been watching the Royal Drawing School website for almost a year until they came up with a five week course I couldn’t resist: Observation and Imagination. The weather was mostly miserable, but the classes (including Anatomy and Life Drawing sessions) exceeded my expectations in spades.

    I found a clean, comfortable and private AirBnB room [Figure 1], at a very reasonable price, in Shoreditch within walking distance of the School, which route was richly dotted in coffee shops and exotic bistros. Variety everywhere! Classes took place in an old warehouse with tall ceilings, wooden floors, large drafty windows, and easels that fought to stay folded. The instructors not only brought in extra supplies (paper, pastels, charcoal, draw boards, bull clips), but they gave tips on setting up a good position for drawing the model.

    Figure 1. My Room

    The instructors were truly involved with their students—from the young art students to an equal number of pensioners. And they were very helpful, as well as encouraging in my strange, experimental, tools and methods. We had so much to share: What we saw (the Observation part) and what was in our heads (the Imagination part). [Figure 2] Sometimes we drew and painted to music, poetry or film. We were offered help with problems during the session, and helpful critiques from colleagues at the end. I learned so much.

    Figure 2. My Imaginative take on a Cup of Tea sitting on a Table

    I also spent a good deal of time drawing independently. Much of the work I gave away. I loved drawing the Elgin marbles especially. [Figure 3] I donated my clothes for the trip home to make room in my luggage for Art Supplies from L. Cornelissen and Son (based in London since 1855), who were phenomenally helpful in paper selection and carried proprietary formulas of almost ever medium. These folks sold to all the great artists of Europe and they treat every customer like they are the new star on the horizon!

    Figure 3. A Horse’s Head from the Parthenon frieze

    I managed to get one piece in a show curated by Zsuzsanna Ardo of Artelier Ardo, entitled “No Man is an Island” as part of a public statement on Brexit. Zsuzsanna has her studio on a polar ice cap, and she writes, paints, and is a true talent that I hope to see again when she comes to New York in the Spring. I would recommend a trip and course of study at the Royal Drawing School to WAS-H members and their friends, so I would love to answer any questions that could help you make a decision. Or you could call Phoebe, at the Drawing School—tell her Martha sent you.

    Happy Travels!

    If you'd like to contribute to Art on the Go, please contact Shirl at sriccetti@comcast.net

  • February 11, 2020 5:01 PM | Ksenia Annis

    WAS-H member Ellen Orseck's work is the centerpiece of the Myrtle Beach Art Museum exhibition on women. The museum is celebrating women and all of their accomplishments particularly in the arts. Learn more at www.Myrtlebeachartmuseum.org

  • February 11, 2020 4:37 PM | Ksenia Annis

    Artists, who won ribbons in February 2020 show, are sharing their thoughts and inspiration for creating their winning paintings.


    I am a hopeless soft-hearted sentimentalist. I cry in the movies, when I read books or listen to great music, so when I saw this month ’s theme, I was thrilled.  THIS I can paint. 

    I trolled through many photos asking myself, “What touches my heart”? Peace, quiet, serenity, my daughter, my family, my friends, my pets. I found a photo that spoke to me and I felt,  “This is the one I want to paint”. Robin Avery once told me,  “You like things up close and personal, like you are having a conversation with the subjects.” She is SO right.

    I cropped in close and once transferred to the watercolor paper, after much drawing and grumbling, as noses are difficult for me, I started with my usual light washes, underpainting and glazes. I played with phthalo blue instead of ultramarine blue as I am finding it lets me layer more often despite being a scary pigment to play with. I layered darker and darker for shadows and tried to balance that with the light. I was frustrated with the fur on the cat in the early stages, but persevered and used a clean damp brush to soften it when I felt the hair was too stiff. 

    I could hear Carla Gauthier in my ear when I painted the nose,  “A little warmth on the end works.” I messed up one of the eyebrows twice and thankfully because I work on 300 lb. Arches paper that can take some scrubbing, I got it in the right place. 

    I hope  “Unconditional Love” is shown in my precious daughter and my beloved cat. Know that I am thankful for the gifts from the teachers and fellow artists at WAS-H. You all help me to become a better artist. 


    “Hornet's Nest” was inspired by a nest I harvested from one of the eaves of my summer cottage in Nova Scotia. Removal caused the nest to break open revealing the cavity in such a way that it resembled a heart right down to the inner chambers. The cottages in the area are known for accommodating as many strains of familial relations as exist; parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, second cousins, in-laws, significant others and friends of significant others. With all of the various personalities inhabiting such a small space, things can get thorny. “How fitting?” I thought. “

    This is the perfect metaphor for the cottage, based in love, with all of its attenuating complications.”


    My painting “Gone with the Wind” was inspired by the classical movie with the same title. This movie marked my childhood a lot. I remember watching it several times. - Ah!!! how I wanted to be strong, brave, rich and beautiful like Scarlet O’Hara!

    Recently, after watching it again, I decided to paint it. The most memorable scene for me was the one which shows a landscape with strong orange sky in the background and a huge oak tree at the front. They were the two things I wanted for sure to be part of the painting.

    As a figurative painter, I need people in my art, so I remembered that about 8 years ago, one of my nieces had posed for me over an oak tree nearby. I looked among the photos I had, and I selected a few to use as a reference for this composition.

    The house is supposed to be “Tara” the house in the fiction.

    SARAH KITAGAWA – Honorable Mention - "WITH AN OPEN HEART"

    “With an Open Heart” - Botanicals are a favorite subject for my watercolor works. I find overlapping layers of pigment, in a delicate dance with water, and the paper surface a rewarding, meditative experience. I enjoy both growing and painting the many stages of the grand herb’s fronds, fruits and blossom. I use the live plant, several reference photos, a simple 3 value sketch, and a palette of 5 or 6 pigments, 300 lb. arches and a lot of patience to create the design, depth, richness of pigment, and textures.


    My favorite paintings are usually ones I paint when I have the most fun. In fact, when I teach, my #1 priority is to create an experimental atmosphere for students to have FUN because the fun almost always shows up in your paintings. The opposite is also true--when you work hard, often your finished product looks laboriously stiff. Just think about the idea of "executing" a painting. Executing?! I don't aim to execute anything - I'd rather give birth to something fun to paint and enjoyable to view.

    Without giving away too many surprises I have used unusual tools to create my painting, traditionally painted, the fun began when I started breaking rules! To begin I put a large blob of fresh Chautauqua Nocturne”, which was painted as a demo in my summer water media class. Although the underpainting is Mars Black on my palette. Then I applied my paint with tools that were entirely experimental. Now that I've discovered this technique, I love to surprise my students with a similar demonstration. I look forward to February's Paint-in, February 20 Senior Class and upcoming classes to reveal my secrets.

    LES MCDONNALD - Honorable Mention - “BARNYARD”

    “Barnyard” is a scene from a trip to Mexico about 25 years ago. We were there on a quail hunt. We had come in that morning, had lunch and were not going out until later that afternoon. I took the opportunity to walk around the little town, Santa EnGracia, and shoot some photos. The whole little village was pretty rustic, but I took some amazing scene photos. It has turned out to be a wealth of reference material.

  • February 11, 2020 4:31 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    There are few things closer to the hearts of WAS-H members than putting paint on a surface, so the theme of our February show, Matters of the Heart, inspired thoughts of a vast array of subjects.  The challenge for our judge for this show, Laura Spector, was to pick just a few from the 50 entries.  She met this challenge and shared with us her energy, enthusiasm and thoughtful evaluations.  

    Laura is a true treasure of the Houston art community.  She is a Fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts, an Individual Grant recipient of the Houston Art Alliance and has recently been awarded Artist-in-Residence by the Joan Mitchell Foundation.  Her work has been displayed in Chicago, Germany and at numerous venues in Houston and has been published in Harvard Review, Ripley ’s Believe It or Not and the book The Real Real Thing: The Model in the Mirror of Art.   Laura teaches at Glasscock School of Continuing Education at Rice University, the Art League, WAS-H and at her Winter Street Studio.

    Laura ’s choice for first place was Alison Hendry ’s  “Unconditional Love” which depicts her daughter hugging their beloved cat, who is just barely tolerating the hug.  Laura said the work was  “technically gorgeous”.  It has rich textures and the realistic look on the face of the cat that is masterfully done.  

    Second place was awarded to Tamara Kontrimas for her  “Hornet ’s Nest”.  Laura was drawn to the strong drawing, subtle use of color and the strength of the concept.  She was intrigued by the image of the heart-shaped nest that seems to have seen some rough times juxtaposed against the stinging insects.

    Daniela Werneck ’s  “Gone with the Wind” was chosen for the third-place ribbon.  Laura was attracted to the narrative nature of the painting that was enhanced by the volume and texture of the billowing fabric and the strong composition that positioned the fragile figure against an emotionally colored orange sky.  


    First Place:  Alison Hendry,  “Unconditional Love”

    Second Place:  Tamara Kontrimas,  “Hornet ’s Nest”

    Third Place:  Daniela Werneck,  “Gone With The Wind”

    Elizabeth Wagar ,  “No Love Lost Between Them”
    Robert Ruhmann, ”Banks of the Guadalupe”
    Les McDonald, Jr,  “Barnyard”
    Sarah Kitigawa,  “With an Open Heart”
    Susan Giannantonio,  “Chautauqua Nocturn”

    Congratulations to all our award winners and thanks to all of our February artists and volunteers for making this such an enjoyable show.  

    See winning paintings - Home

  • February 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Tom Kraycirik, IWE Director

    The 43rd International Watermedia Exhibition festivities will open Sunday, March 8 to hundreds of anxious patrons, visitors, and artists wondering who will be awarded honors and prizes in Watercolor Art Society-Houston's premier exhibition. This year s exhibition has been juried by famed watercolor juror, teacher and painter Eric Wiegardt, AWS-DF, NWS.  His accolades include the highest honor in watercolor painting: the Gold Medal and Dolphin Fellow from the American Watercolor Society, New York.

    IWE activities will begin with a watercolor painting demonstration by Mr. Wiegardt at 2:15 p.m. with the award ceremony following at 3:30 p.m.  After the honors have been presented, a reception will open the exhibition for viewing.  Valet parking will be available for this event. For those unable to attend the Sunday reception two additional receptions are planned.  First, an Art Lovers reception will be held Thursday, March 12, 2020 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the WAS-H Gallery.  There will also be an Art Party, focusing on a younger audience, to be held Thursday, March 26, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at WAS-H gallery as well. 

    Wiegardt has left an indelible mark on the American and International art scene as a teacher and painter with his bold, loose painting style.  He has been featured in many publications, including Watercolor Artist Magazine as well as cover artist for both the Artist Magazine and Plein Air Magazine. He has also authored the books Painting Without a Net” and Watercolor Free and Easy”.  He also has a video series titled Painting Loosely from Photographs.”

    Wiegardt is a graduate of the American Academy of Art, Chicago.  His studies and lifelong work in landscape theory work have given him a mastery of the color value properties which render balance and harmony in his works. An artist s artist,” is the accolade given him by Jim McFarlane, president of the American Watercolor Society. 

    Irving Shapiro, AWS and former president and director of the American Academy of Art describes him as having “An intelligence that enables him to perceive and execute his artistic efforts with rare, sensitive, insights. One of our brightest and inspiring painters.”

    Wiegardt and his wife Ann will both be in Houston during the week as he will be conducting a workshop for enrolled artists at WAS-H.  The couple has owned and operated Wiegardt Studio Gallery since 1985 and have raised five wonderful children, he commented. 

    As in the past, WAS-H members have an opportunity to promote the International Watermedia Exhibition themselves by bringing friends and acquaintances to the exhibition during its month-long run.  Many of those outside the art community still have not personally experienced paintings created with watermedia.  This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see some of the best original works in the market today, the IWE team advises. WAS-H volunteers will also be standing by to assist those interested in purchasing works, rarely seen in such a diverse collection of quality paintings from national and international renown artists. 

    The exhibition is presented with financial support of corporate sponsors including the firm of  eepb, tax/audit/advisory, HEB,  Art Supply on Almeda, Sterling Wealth Advisors, Texas Art Supply, Karbach Brewing and through the diligent and creative efforts of scores of WAS-H volunteers.

    Read more on IWE page

    Eric Wiegardt's watercolors can be found on this website - https://ericwiegardt.com


  • February 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Kathleen Church, WAS-H President

    WAS-Hs premiere artists came out in full-force for our Signature/Signature Elite Show on January 4.  The gallery has never looked more inviting with 64 remarkable pieces of art on display.  Ellen Orseck curated the show and defined thirteen creative categories to discuss our artists work.  Opting not to give traditional First, Second, Third place awards invited us to view and understand these works through a different set of lenses. Ellen challenged us to consider again how we approach our own work more thoughtfully.  With each category Ellen chose two pieces of art by well known artists to expand her reflection on  each Signature piece.  What about attaching a checklist to your easel with key word reminders: composition, color, value, narrative, pattern, meaning, line, mystery?  As Ellen reminded us artists at this level go beyond technique to deeper levels of meaning and purpose.

    Following Ellen’s presentation Nancy Moody led a stimulating and entertaining panel discussion with five of our elite artists: Carla Gauthier, Carolyn Graham, Robin Avery, A. J.Schexnayder, and Eric Sprohge. The artists discussed their artistic processes, inspirations, development as artists and the relationship between their art and contemporary social life. I think her questions to the panelists are good ones for us to consider as well.

    1. What are some of the aspects of your life experiences or cultural background that you can tie to your artwork and your evolution as an artist?

    2. A lot of contemporary art seems tied to either political or social issues. Have you ever wanted to deepen your practice to explore substantial issues such as these, or have you considered other art world trends in the context of your own work?

    3. How do you seek opportunities to display your work and cultivate a collector base?

    4. A quote from artist Georg Baselitz, “I begin with an idea but as I work the picture takes over. Then there is the struggle between the idea that I preconceived in advance and the picture that fights for its own life”. Can you relate?

    5. What was the first work of art that you were proud of?

    The reception was packed and buzzed with lively conversation among artists and guests - all celebrating the magical and often wondrous gifts of so many of WAS-H’s members.

    A special thank you to Beverly Aderholt, Jan Shrader, Susi Telage, Nancy Moody and Terry Baird for their efforts to produce this show! Stop by and visit the gallery this month! It is a gem.

    Theresa Wilson. Sunrise, Sunset
    Best “Example of 21st Century Life”

    Barbara Jeffery Clay Galveston Summer. “Effective Use of Pattern”

    Linda Southern Vanek. The New King. “Strongest Narrative”

    Carol Slobin. Rocky. “Dynamic Use Of Perspective”

    Caroline Graham. Ordimento of Heaven. “Evokes a Sense of Magic”

    A.J. Schexnayder. Egg Shells. “Elegant Example of the Surreal”

    Dale A Schmidt. In The Beginning. An Abstraction That Compares to Musical Rhythm

    Tasmara Kontrimas. Undone. Most Innovative Composition

    Kay Stern, Moment in Time, Dynamic Control of Value Range

    Karen Lindeman. Irish Spring. Most effective use of transparency

    Ann Erard. Night Sky Beach Hammock II. Bravado Color

    Carla Gauthier. Reflections on Happy Hour. Most comprehensive merger of meaning and beauty

    Les McDonald. Alaska Crab Traps. Most Skillful Use of Linear Elements

  • February 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Cissy Geigerman, WAS-H Senior class member and volunteer

    At home, I came across a small book that belonged to my late father-in-law, "Painting as a Pastime" by Winston Churchill. It is a relatively short read and very nice to hear about the joys of painting in his very own voice. I am a relatively new painter. In retirement I was looking for something new to learn. Adult coloring books with complex mandalas were my introduction to color combinations and pattern design. After that, it was a logical transition to watercolors. It has been very rewarding to see that I can still learn and improve with a brand new thing. Here are some paraphrased passages from the book.

    On wisdom: "It is a pity to read good books too soon in life. The works remain crossed off the list, never to be re-visited. How many books would a young person really understand?"

    On using different thinking muscles: "To have a second language at your disposal even if you know it enough to read it with pleasure is a sensible advantage."

    On courage and initiative: "If you are inclined late in life to paint, then be persuaded that the first quality that is needed is Audacity. There is really no time for the deliberate approach. We cannot aspire to be Masters. Audacity is the only ticket. If you try and fail, there is not much harm done. You can always go out and kill some animal, humiliate some rival on the links, or despoil some friend across the green table."

    On the pure joy of painting: "Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day."

    Thank you and happy painting!

    The book can be found on Amazon.com

  • February 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Shirl Riccetti, WAS-H Member

    Contact Shirl with your travel stories and ideas: sriccetti@comcast.net

    There must have been a logical reason for keeping the 2009 tour guide, touting the international packaged tours.

    Honoring my New Year’s resolution to spend five minutes daily cleaning out my studio, I realized immediately why the booklet was saved. It was for the watercolors! The tour company had hired an artist to enrich the multi-tour descriptions. There were photos, but the watercolors caught the eye immediately. They were the largest, and up front, and extremely colorful.

    Reviewing these pages again, over 10 years later, the watercolors still captured the dynamics of each tour. The Lisbon tour had a dancer, brightly painted, in the foreground of architecture. Even the monotones of Bryce Canyon and the same values of huge monuments were attractive. Many of the watercolors relied on the use of white spaces. To me, it conveyed a sense of 'airiness' (not an art word), and a sense of ‘freedom’. And isn’t that what the tour company had intended?

    So, being a true artist, I clipped out the watercolors only, put them together and placed them in another folder. It was a reminder that watercolors, on the go, plein aire, are about ‘freedom’, and capturing life at that moment.

    The sad part of this find was that, even though I searched page by page, there was no acknowledgment of the artist by name and no signature on each painting. OK then, on a practical, and selfish note, I hope that the artist received Big Bucks.

    Carry on artists, and carpe diem.

  • February 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Kathleen Church, President WAS-H

    Dear Friends,

    Happy New Year 2020! I hope the year is off to a great start for all of you! WAS-H is celebrating the New Year with our Signature/Signature Elite show which has been a great success. You can read more about it in the following pages. Behind the scenes we are finishing up our technology upgrade project which was begun last year. Many thanks to Karen Stopnicki and Laura McMahon for all the time and effort put into seeing this project through,

    Vice President Sarah Lee has been hard at work assembling her Board for next year. As you know WAS-H cannot operate without the generous support of volunteers. If you have been enjoying all WAS-H has to offer and are ready to give back please let us know. We are in search of someone with basic technology skills who is PC savvy; if you have experience in finance, or are great at organizing events we have room for you to serve!

    For the past two years we have been working hard to streamline our newsletter format and make it more user friendly. This edition is being launched as a BLOG and easily accessed with a click on our website. Thank you to Ksenia Annis and Patty Armstrong for the MANY hours dedicated to the Washrag each month. It takes a lot more than a CLICK to produce this document!

    Finally, Tom Kraycirik and Haley Bowen are putting the final touches on IWE 2020. It is going to be a spectacular week with Erik Wiegardt judging the show and teaching the workshop.


    Kathleen Church
    President: Watercolor Art Society Houston

  • February 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Laurie Hammons, Education Co-Director

    Watercolorists are often nature lovers, so I wanted to share the vacation my husband and I took last April to the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. The Pilgrimage has been taking place for 70 years; it is organized by a group of wildflower lovers, with many guided hikes over four days: mornings, afternoons, and full-day hikes – even a few in the evenings. The hikes (of about 30 people each) are led by local experts, such as botanists from local universities. 950 people attended the 2019 Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage!

    I didn’t know what to expect when we signed up. I just knew I wanted to see a lot of wildflowers. It turns out most attendees are really interested in seeing unique and rare flowers, and before long we were just as excited to spot a new variety. In all, we recorded about 170 varieties of flowers, including some plants and trees, too. It was so much fun – I made a Shutterfly book to record the plants we saw.

    If you are interested in making your own trip to the Wildflower Pilgrimage, you can find information at their website: http://www.wildflowerpilgrimage.org. Registration opens this year on February 24, and some of the hikes fill up quickly.

    There are hotels just outside the park in Gatlinburg. You will need a car to get around the park; each hike starts at a different trail head. If you have any questions for me, please send an email: lauriehammons@att.net.

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