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by Andrew Dansby
Last chance: Incredible international watercolor exhibition closes Thursday
Nearly 100 watercolor paintings are on display representing work by artists from 34 states and five nations.
Published March 30, 2022
Updated: March 31, 2022, 12:13 pm
“Fragments Geometry and Change” commands the eye and sends it on a journey. A watercolor by Annell Livingston, the piece comprises a tight matrix of triangles and squares, but the path of color Livingston put upon the canvas gives it an almost spherical look if you let the eye dance along the surface. It’s an astounding work, intricate and grand. And despite an almost digital precision, Livingston created the work with watercolor.
It was awarded first place at the Watercolor Art Society - Houston’s 45th annual International Watermedia show, one of two large-scale shows the organization puts on each year.
The WASH is a rare watercolor society in the nation that owns and operates its own building. And that building is, through Thursday, teeming with entries from the competition. Those interested have a brief window to see some astounding works that range from landscape, still life and portrait to more abstract works and some that tiptoe to the edge of photorealism. This year's International Watermedia show welcomed entries by artists from 34 states and five nations. Nearly 100 works were shown from almost 400 submissions.
The walls at WASH are a feast right now, with paintings covering almost the entirety of the gallery space’s walls. For those unfamiliar with WASH, the upstairs is dedicated to classes, workshops and group painting opportunities.
WASH has been in its new space – just a block from the Menil Collection – for 10 years. But it was launched in 1975. Some of the works above speak to the breadth of the medium.
Watercolor Art Society - Houston
1601 W. Alabama
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
International Watermedia show closes Thursday
If you are an active member of WAS-H, please cast your vote for the 2022-2023 board of directors! There are three ways to vote. You can do it in person at the General Meeting on Sunday, April 3. If you can't be at the meeting, fill out a proxy form at WAS-H gallery this week or online at this link, and Kathleen Church will cast your vote.
Read about the candidates in our post below!
Karen Stopnicki is a native Houstonian and lifelong artist, who while in the 4th grade convinced her parents to let her to take adult painting classes, and ultimately earned her BA in Art from the University of Texas. She currently runs a busy household that includes her husband, 12-year old son, a cat and a dog, does commissions as a professional artist, and is a consummate volunteer.
A long-time WAS-H member, she has served on the WAS-H Board of Directors in a variety roles including Public Relations Director, Annual Members Exhibit Director, and Website/Technology Director. She has also served key volunteer roles in the Mark Twain Elementary PTO and the West University Little League Auxiliary.
She will bring business acumen to her role as WAS-H President from her years in corporate advertising and marketing for local and national retailers. “I hope to marry my love for WAS-H with my background and experience to keep the organization heading in a positive direction. We have so much to offer the community, and I look forward to seeing WAS-H full of shows, classes, and events with members and guests.”
Irene Sheytman’s romance with watercolor started when she studied architecture in college at the Azerbaijan Engineering and Construction University in Baku (1977–1982). Among other subjects, watercolor painting was a prerequisite for architectural rendering.
For a time, life forced her to set painting aside. But later when Irene finally had more free time on hands, she started painting again. Realizing, that she needs to develop her own visual language, Irene is expressing her thoughts and emotions through properties and peculiars of watercolor painting. She also tried different mediums (though watercolor is her favorite), along with different tools and a less realistic approach. Irene confesses that she loves to travel and to see new places, cities, and counties. That is part of why historical architecture is her passion.
Irene has been a member of WAS-H for many years and enjoyed plenty of workshops, classes and shows. But most of all, she appreciates being a part of a great group of art enthusiasts and appreciators. “I am thankful for a chance to serve as a co-vice-president for a second year and hope that with all my energy and enthusiasm I will help WAS-H to promote art and artists.”
Donna Van Fleet's inner artist made a 3rd-grade debut with a paint-by-number set, won a set of encyclopedias in a 6th grade national newspaper coloring contest, won a 7th-grade geometry art contest that required using protractors, compasses and rulers, took a hiatus when her parents informed her that she would major in math because "art is a hobby", stayed dormant during a three-decade career at IBM, then re-emerged after retirement to finally become an art major, with gratitude for WAS-H's rich menu of classes.
Besides art, another of Donna's passions is collaborating with a team to help organizations thrive from good to great. During her executive management at IBM and at more than a dozen nonprofit organizations, Donna has never met a challenge that didn't inspire her or a problem she didn't want to solve, always with a sense of humor and joy in camaraderie.
Galveston provides Donna the best of all worlds, living on island-time in a Gulf-side, art-laden home, plus Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, WAS-H and airports to faraway lands just up the road.
Donna thanks WAS-H for inviting her to serve a second year as co-vice president, a cherished opportunity to combine her passions for art and for helping organizations grow. Donna looks forward to working together to advance WAS-H's impact by empowering artists and enriching art audiences.
Kathleen Cooper attended college at the University of Florida, and she had no idea what to major in. She tried math, but that quickly became incomprehensible. English proved to be much more boring than it was in high school. Since she always liked art, she then decided to major in art education. However, upon graduation she knew that teaching art was not her passion. While working in a bank and contemplating next steps, a friend announced she was going to law school. Kathleen thought that sounded like a good career choice, and rode the wave of law schools trying to increase female enrollment. At the end of law school, Kathleen stuck around for one more year and obtained an LL.M (Legal Masters) in taxation.
Upon finally graduating, Kathleen threw everything in a U Haul and moved to Houston as an adventure, knowing about two people who lived there. Ah, the ignorance of youth! Kathleen ended up going to the University of Houston at night to take accounting classes for CPA certification, while working for the Big Eight firm of Touche Ross (yes - a long time ago). After a few years in accounting Kathleen decided to try industry, and worked for 22 years as an international tax planner for Marathon Oil Company. Upon retiring from Marathon in 2009, Kathleen decided that she needed to round out her work experience by working for the government. A couple of years later the IRS was hiring International Examiners, so she worked for the IRS for seven years, retiring for good right before Covid struck.
During most of her working life, Kathleen did almost no art work of her own, content to visit museums and art fairs. But in 2011 she joined WASH to learn more about watercolor, as a hobby. Not a driven, passionate artist, Kathleen does not paint faithfully on a daily (or even almost daily) basis. But she has a lot of fun taking courses and day-dreaming about what she will paint one day when she finally buckles down.
Janet Traylor is a native Houstonian. She graduated from Deer Park High School and then graduated from UT Dental School as a Certified Dental Assistant. This is also where she met her husband, Tony and will celebrate their 47th anniversary this May. They moved from Houston to Baytown. After working in the Dentistry field for six years she decided it was time for a career of her own. She attended University of Houston and received a degree in Accounting. She then followed her dream of working in the Oil & Gas Industry; she worked for just over six years with Tenneco Oil Company. As happens in the ups and downs of the Industry Tenneco sold its position in exploration and production, at the same time Janet was blessed with her only child, a beautiful baby girl. Great timing, she became a stay at home mom, volunteering with Service League, tutoring children in math, and holding the position of her church bookkeeper. When her daughter left for college she resumed her career in Oil and Gas Accounting at Houston based Enervest, where she retired as Manager of Accounting Advisors in April 2017.
Her first dabble in Art was in 2006 when she took some classes at the Jung Center in Chinese Brush Painting. After retiring she followed her long time teacher and friend, Peihong Endris to WASH. She joined WASH in 2017 and has taken many classes and major workshops since.
I feel blessed to have found such a welcoming organization as WASH. Although I have never served in the capacity of secretary, “preferring numbers to words” I look forward to helping WASH in any capacity I can.
Several of WAS-H members were invited to 2022 International Juried Exhibition at SWA in Fort Worth. Among these artists are Carla Gauthier, Karen Linderman, and Irene Sheytman. Other invited great artists are M. Holter and S. Warren, recent jurors and workshop presenters at WAS-H. To see all the entries, please go to https://www.swawatercolor.com/2022-international-gallery .
We are excited to introduce you to our new Corporate Sponsor for IWE, LevellingUP. LevellingUp is an online platform where artists can connect with Master Artists who provide mentorship opportunities.
One of the Master Artists featured on the website is Keiko Tanabe. Keiko is starting a new mentorship group at LevellingUp. Her first session is on Sunday, March 6, 2022. If you are interested in checking out LevellingUp and participating in Keiko’s next mentor group, WAS-H members get a discount. Use WAS-H_10for3 and receive $10 off per month for your first three months of membership with LevellingUP.
Full details and registration can be found at https://www.levellingup.ca/keiko-tanabe-mastermind/
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.
Each month, the winners are asked to share a few words about their experiences associated with their paintings. Below, we present what they shared.
First Place - Palmetto by FONTAINE JACOBS
Palmetto started as a small Plein Air painting sketch at Maas Nursery that I used as a reference for the larger version finished in my studio. With Yupo, it is a challenge to make flat washes, which I overcame by painting in one direction from the center outwards with just the amount of pressure on my brush to avoid lifting the paint. I was inspired by the repeating elements and added the complimentary red for interest.
Second Place – Cedar Creek, Wimberly by Erik Sprohge
This was on our last Geriatric Art Society (GAS) trip. GAS is an offshoot of WASH. We would meet twice a year in different places in Texas or surroundings and paint. I love the hill country, the clear water, the rocks, the hills. This scene is of the bridge off highway 12 right before you get into a little cluster of shops and restaurants in Wimberly.
Third Place – Grapevine by Zahid Shaikh
I'm out of my comfort zone here, not my usual style. Inspired by Jean Haines, British master watercolorist, I did the background first using deep, rich colors and lots of water, then lifted the pattern of leaves and vines. Finally, I painted the grapes with a little more definition. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process!
My painting, Sophie, expresses my love for our wonderfully sweet, loving, funny labradoodle. This painting is a Valentine’s gift to my husband. He’s her personal trainer, chef, medical assistant…and Make-up Artist (He takes her to the groomer!) I hope the love we feel for her is genuinely expressed.
Honorable Mention – Lazing on the Llano by Kathleen Church
I have always loved loose and colorful watercolor landscapes. There is something about the fresh color, the hint of impressionism, the reminder of just how beautiful our natural world is that makes me happy. In this little scene along the Llano River where a few friends and I spent a long weekend at the beginning of Covid, I was drawn to the fields and river. The parallel lines of rock, low-water bridge, fields and distant tree line are broken by the S curve of the river and the large tree emerging from the shoreline on the right. And then of course there were the cows roaming around in the field to make it a perfect Texas scene! The rocky shore is beautiful. Long layers of stone required being creative with grays. My palette was simple: Sennilier Permanent Yellow, a mix of cobalt and cerulean for the blues in the sky, with some darker ultramarine in the river. There’s a touch of quin gold in the fields as well. I mixed the blues on the palette and some quin gold for the tree to keep it unified. While I did this version in my studio, the first was en plein air, my favorite way to paint. I love the immediacy of painting on location.
Trail Creek Winter is an effort by me to express the emotions and joy I have when traveling (usually by snowshoes or skis) through the glorious winter forest along trail creek which is just on the border of Wyoming and Idaho. The painting has no white paint but lots of masking fluid (Pebeo). It was painted on 140lbs cold press D’Arches papers and was a “rejected” painting in WASH's International Show!
My daughter-in-law is a wonderful photographer and a romantic! When I saw this shot from their recent California trip, I knew I had to paint it... obviously I'm a romantic too!
The Russian Cultural Center is hosting an exhibit by WAS-H Artist, Rada Bukhman. The exhibit opens with a reception on Friday, February 11, 2022 at 7 pm.
The exhibition, called “Woman’s World” is reflective of Rada’s life-long relationship with music and dancing. Rada is a classical pianist but also took up flamenco dancing when she lived in Canada. Music, dancing, and her love for flowers is a common theme throughout her work.
Rada was born in Omsk, Russia into an artistic family. She received her undergraduate education in Moscow as a classical pianist and continued her studies in classical music and art at the Jerusalem Academy. After moving to Vancouver, Canada, in 1996, Rada experimented with different types of painting media and clay and learned the art of flamenco dancing.
Rada moved to Texas in 2017 with her husband and 13-year-old daughter. While she still works in oil, she has found a new love of watercolor and enjoys combining drawing, lino printing techniques and watercolor to create new and interesting compositions.
Rada’s paintings can be found in galleries throughout Canada. Her expressionist style and sense of color is sought after by collectors. Her paintings can also be found in many private collections throughout Canada, the US, and Europe.
Rada is an active member of the Watercolor Art Society – Houston. She frequently participates in the WAS-H monthly shows and has pieces in our Members’ Sales Gallery.
Rada’s exhibition runs through March 31, 2022, and can be seen at 2337 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77005. For more information, call (713) 395-3301. The Russian Cultural Center is open 10 am – 3 pm daily, except Sunday, when they close at 2 pm.
Congratulations to our International Watermedia Exhibition juror Soon Y. Warren on being awarded an honorable mention in the 13th Annual Watermedia Showcase, organized by the Watercolor Artist magazine. Here is what Soon told the magazine about her painting "Victory of Wings" (pictured below). To learn more about Soon Y. Warren and the upcoming IWE, please click here.
"What was your inspiration for your painting, Victory of Wings?
When I entered the sculpture room in the Louvre, I was awe-struck by the statue, Winged Victory of Samothrace. She stands proudly at the top of a grand staircase, and her poise seemed to dominate the air. I promised myself I’d bring her to life in a painting one day. It took a few years to come up with a suitable background idea before I could get started.
What excites you most about how the painting turned out?
I knew it would be impossible to capture the feeling of awe in that first encounter with the statue, but I’m pleased that, when I look at the painting, it does call up a feeling of wonder from my heart.
Describe your painting process and materials.
After drawing the subject on my paper, I applied masking fluid on the highlight areas of the tunic, the top of the wings and shoulder, and on the bot-tom of the foot and the ship-shaped stand. After the mask dried, I sprayed clean water in the center area and brushed the excess water to every side of the paper. I worked on 300-lb. Winsor & Newton paper to prevent any buckling. While the paper was wet, I poured yellow on the top, red in the center and blue at the bottom to create the back-ground that is the foundation of this painting. The three pigments mingled and spread outward to the edges. It was controlled chaos. I wanted there to be a transition from the glow at the top to a cooler effect at the bottom of the picture plane, and for this progression to be smooth and continuous, with-out interruption.
What turned out to be the biggest challenge in the creative process?
Once the background was set, the next challenge was to create a glow at the top of the body and to keep the statue integrated with the background. To start, I used a mixture of dark black, equal amounts of indigo, permanent alizarin crimson and sepia to paint the body, wings and wavy tunic. I did some scrubbing to bring out the highlight areas of the body.
What has been most influential to your painting life lately? How do you continue to keep your work fresh and exciting?
Painting with colleagues and teaching workshops keeps my creativity activated. These situations present new problems and solutions, and ideas that I can utilize. Victory of Wings is one such example. I was teaching, and I was trying to figure out how to rescue the gray, wet paper. I started to lift the paint using a wet brush to create an object, and I liked the resulting effect. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do with this background."
Happy new year! I think none of us expected to be beginning another year at WAS-H with the Covid worries and with socializing concerns and constraints. However, if these last two years have taught us anything as an organization it is that with a little ingenuity, perseverance, and good humor, we can adapt and make it over the hurdles.
As the year opens, we have our gallery lined with 42 wonderful works of a general theme. You can see the images on our online gallery, but nothing equals standing in front of the work, so please plan on stopping by the gallery soon. And while you’re there, take a look in the sales shop on the first floor where you’ll find paintings for sale by our members. Our Artist Liaison, Laura Mossman, has done a great job of coordinating this new effort.
This month we were so fortunate to have our first show of the year judged by Nancy Paris Pruden. She shared with us her vast artistic knowledge as she did the difficult job of picking the winners from the 42 wonderful entries.
Nancy is an award-winning artist, lives and works in Houston, Texas. She grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas and started painting at a very early age when she won a scholarship to study drawing and later painting at the Experimental Art Program in Ft. Worth. By the time she graduated from high school, she was selling her art and is today shown in many national juried shows. Texture and color are her main interests, and she paints from life Alla Prima style in oils. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from University of Georgia and continued her training with workshops with several major artists before attending the Art Students League in New York. She has won numerous awards and has participated in many One Woman Shows and museum shows across the United States. Nancy lives in Houston and organizes Painting Workshops in France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Mexico in the summer. She also maintains a blog on her website that is loaded with inspirations information for artists of all media.
I’m so happy now to share some of the thoughts that Nancy had about the winners.
First Place – Fall at the Overlook by Fred Kingwill
“Well-drawn with a variety of warm and cool greens and nice use of areal perspective. Loved the runny color in the sky for added texture. Nice placement of the center of interest and variety of shapes and marks.”
Second Place – Voyager Reflections by Jackie Liddell
“Again, well-drawn with an interesting division of space. Variety of colors and temperatures in the reflections. Nice handling of loose and precise drawing and nice placement of shapes.”
Third Place – Awning and Harbor by Larry Spitzberg
“Loved the unusual viewpoint and subtle diagonal composition. The drawing of the boats was a bit awkward and the perspective was a bit off, but it was in keeping with the overall whimsical feel of the painting so didn't bother me. Loved the awning at the top of the painting as it made you feel you were peaking in on a personal scene.”
Honorable Mention – Quiet Celebration by Pat Waughtal
“Strong sense of depth. Lots of surface visual interest as multiple layers furthered the sense of depth. Variety of brushwork and shapes of marks and unusual placement of focal point were strong points.”
Honorable Mention – Rubicund by Ruby Allen
“Nice variety of shapes and loved the way the marks on top of the shapes furthered the direction of the eye. Liked the blue and orange complementary color scheme and opposite diagonals, but the best was the choice of that neutral gray at the bottom and dark at the top to add color relief.”
Honorable Mention – Babson Farm Quarry by Charles Browne
“Nice drawing. Liked the way the rock and reflections gave you a vertical in a basically horizontal composition. Liked the subtle handling of the sky and the little pops of warm green in a cool green landscape, but wish there had been more colors used in the greens. Maybe try a little red added to the greens and even some orange to change color without changing value.”
Our amazing volunteers that stepped up to make this month’s show possible were Patty Armstrong, Leisa Patin, Marcia Wasson, Laura Mossman and Nancy McMillian. Thank you for your time and good humor. We really do have fun! If you are interested in joining in, sign up on the SignUpGenius on our homepage.
The prospectus for the February show is posted under the Monthly Gallery Exhibits. The theme is A Few of My Favorite Things. Hope you plan to enter something! And then, get ready! Our International Watermedia Exhibition is in March. A lot of work is going on behind the scenes right now to make this a big success! This is another opportunity for you to share a bit of your time and volunteer to help out.
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