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by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
The walls in the WAS-H gallery had been bare for seventeen months and when I walked into the building last week and saw paintings leaning up again the wall waiting to be hung, I had a visceral reaction. Seeing wonderful art in person can have that effect! So please don’t wait to stop by the gallery and see for yourself!
What makes it even better this month is that the theme is “Experimental”. Our members were asked to explore new or unusual techniques, material and themes while still adhering to solid artistic principals, and it’s so much fun to see the imaginative challenges that our entrants tasked themselves with. Mike Doan won an honorable mention by using only paint and a credit card, no brushwork. Nan Wright pounded real Lodgepole Pine into cotton paper and watercolored over it. Every painting opens our eyes to new possibilities.
Our judge this month, Kelly Montana, comes from our esteemed neighbor, the Menil, where she is the Assistant Curator of the Menil Drawing Institute. Kelly Montana was born and raised in Houston and holds MA and BA degrees in Art History from the University College London and Smith College, respectively. At the Menil, she has organized many of their exhibitions, including the upcoming show, Draw Like a Machine: Pop Art, 1952-1975. As an independent curator, she has organized exhibitions at Box13 Artspace and the Houston Public Library. Prior to the Menil, she worked at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia, and Lawndale Art Center, among others.
Kelly was so generous with her time and was thorough in her evaluation of our entries and she was a real joy to visit with at the reception. We asked Kelly what it was about each of the winners that drew her to it. I will share with you her comments:
1st Place – Bumpy Ride by Maria Rodriguez-Alejo
“The textures of the torn, skinned, and abraded papers provided subtle and elegant variation. Lovely color choice and a strong, sophisticated composition.”
2nd Place – The End by Lynda Jung
“This work is playing with contrasts, presenting a composition that is between representation and abstraction, machinic and ecological.”
3rd Place – Summer Day by Olga Shotashvili
“This work tries to capture the quality of light of watercolor in an acrylic painting. Pushing media to its limits and trying to express the materiality of one media in another is a rewarding and fruitful exercise, as evidenced here.”
Honorable Mention – Midland Reporter by Misty Bartell
“Inventive use of collage and watercolor in a work that could have quickly become unharmonious remains intriguing and balanced.”
Honorable Mention – Pestled Pine by Nan Wright
“Very exciting to see an artist making their own pigments from the world around them, and this was an especially unique one.”
Honorable Mention – Up from the Depths by Mike Doan
“This work holds together many of the traditions of watercolor painting - light as subject, seeing the natural work on grand scale while retaining an intimate size, and a composition that expresses the inherent fluidity of the medium - while still feeling fresh and unexpected.”
We are so pleased to the be back in the gallery and have our member’s work for everyone to see. It cheers us and inspires us, and is a visual testament to the Houston community of the cornucopia of creativity and comradery that is WAS-H.
Special thanks to our energetic and enthusiastic volunteers that made this show possible: Nancy McMillian, Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Giergerman, Marci Watson, Ahlene Shong, Irene Sheytman and Diane Trepagnier.
Each month, the winners are asked to share a few words about their experiences associated with their paintings. Below, we present what they shared:
Second Place – The End by Lynda Jung
I often paint on Yupo and love that its gifts are often unexpected. I am always surprised to see what happens as I apply and try to guide the paint, but it flows and mixes on its own on the painting. Images sometimes are added and hidden, and the unexpected end results is a rewarding gift as I set the painting aside to dry. Come join me in my December workshop for more surprises using Yupo. Lynda Jung
Honorable Mention – Up from the Depths by Mike Doan
We always hear that watercolor painting sometimes produces “happy accidents”. The happy accident of Up from the depths started in March 2020 just after WAS-H shut down, and Open Studio meetings ended. Diane Cox sent me a link to a YouTube video by Lena Gemzoe. Then, fast forward to July 2021, and Open Studio has started up again and Susan Giesecke was experimenting with a technique she saw in a YouTube video by Scott Swinson – who mentions Lena on his video. The technique was using only paper (no rougher than hot press), water (and spray bottle), watercolors, and a flexible plastic card. Wet your paper, load your card with watercolor, and swipe it on. Tilt the paper to let the colors run and maybe spritz it a bit. Sometimes it works and sometimes it ends up being “mud”, but this one worked for me.
Honorable Mention – Pestled Pine by Nan Wright
I am fortunate to live almost half of the year in Winter Park, Colorado. Lodgepole pines were decimated in the last decade by the Pine Beetle. These dead stands of trees are now fuel for forest fires. Fire is a mixed blessing because the cones are closed tight with resin that melts during a fire and releases seeds that have been stored for years.
I wanted to pay homage to the new pines and pounding the oils from their needles was a heady experience! (The house smelled great!) It was fun to have my watercolor brush dance with the transferred color of the needles and to paint in those pine cones for future forests.
Kim Granhaug, a signature elite member of WAS-H was accepted into the 2021 National Watercolor International Exhibition and also received NWS Membership status by the judges for her painting "Dialogue." The esteemed judges of selection include Ken Goldman, Donna Zagotta, and Bev Jozwiak. In addition Kim earned an Art ScholArtship which includes a review or mentorship from a Master Artist of NWS.
The NWS International Exhibition will be held online from October 1 through December 11, 2021. The virtual reception of the exhibition will be held on October 16, 2021 with more details available soon on the website. Full list of accepted artists can be found here.
by Diane Trepagnier, AME director
This is the 52nd year for the WAS-H Annual Member Exhibit, and we are excited to announce the return of the exhibit to the gallery after last year’s virtual show due to the pandemic. As in years past AME will award over $3000 in cash and merchandise, making it once again one of the most highly anticipated events for our members. The timing and length of the show will reflect some changes, so make careful note of the dates and mark your calendar accordingly. The AME is set for October 4 and exhibits will remain in the gallery for viewing during regular hours until November 4.
We are delighted to have nationally recognized artist Michael Holter as our judge for the 52nd AME. Michael is an award-winning artist who works in watercolor and oil, who's paintings can be found in private and corporate collections in the US and several foreign countries. Although he has been painting most of his life, his work experience spans a wide range of creative challenges. He has been an art teacher, creative director and businessman in both fine art and commercial art. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education and an MA in Visual Communication.
You can find the prospectus here.
Date online registration & drop-off begins: Saturday, 9/25 – 10:00 a.m.
Date online registration & drop-off ends: Wednesday, 9/29 – 3:00 p.m.
Judging date: Saturday, October 2
General meeting, demo & awards presentation: Sunday, October 3 – 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.
Reception: Sunday, October 3 - 3:30 – 5:30pm.
If you have questions, contact Diane Trepagnier, AME Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were driving west on one of those great Texas roads. My husband driving, because he likes to be in control…while in the car! I’m free to look at the road ahead disappear into the horizon with a majestic cloud formation building in front of the sun as it lowers in the sky with rays of pinks and golds highlighting the edges. Then a tiny town comes into view with silos and grain bins and a smattering of trees silhouetted against the clouds, adding interest to the focal point. Some would think this such a simple landscape. I wanted to capture its beauty. As an artist, I think this is what happens to us over and over. The light is just right, the shadows form an interesting composition. And the color…exactly what is that blue gray of the sky? Whether we’re on the beach at sunset or looking out of a hotel room in New York City, landscapes inspire us and ignite our creativity. They are everywhere we look. And sometimes, as is the case of our 3rd place winner this month, only in our minds. Be sure to read about our winning artists thoughts in a separate blog entry, Winner’s Words.
This month, fifty-one wonderful paintings show just how our members respond to these scenes. We get to experience their views with an added element: the artist’s emotions. Please take some time to soak in the scenes that have been shared with us. Think about how each artist interpreted the view.
That’s just what our juror this month did. Sharon Willcutts is a Fine Arts Administrator and a Studio Arts Instructor in Houston. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Painting at the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. She also studied at The Villages of Art, Lacoste, France and Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
She is an accomplished teacher with more than 30 years of experience guiding all facets of fine arts curriculum development and presentation including studio and classroom environments. Her educational experience includes drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, stone carving, welding, ceramics, and wood shop.
Sharon is currently a Visual Arts Instructor at Episcopal High School. In the past she has also taught at the Museum of Fine Arts Glassell School of Art, St. Stephens Episcopal School in Houston and Houston Community College. Additionally, Sharon has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Texas and beyond.
Sharon graciously shared her thoughts about each winner at our Awards presentation and I now share those words with you.
1st Place – Huaco Falls by Cheryl Evans
“Very competent painting. Tremendous use of color harmony, perspective and sense of light. I love the color transitions, balance of warm and color contrast, as well as hard and soft edges. Tremendous use of atmospheric perspective!”
2nd Place – Melancholic Sunset by Hiep Nguyen
“The direct simplicity of this piece really caught my eye. The minimal use of color and brush strokes are very Zen. A moment caught in time. The economy of marks exquisitely mindful, deliberate and perfect in placement. Absolutely gorgeous! I would love be honored to have this part of my own collection.”
3rd Place – My Favorite Place by Erika Just
“I was immediately drawn to the broad versatility of brush work as well as the sheer the scale of this piece. The loose, layered washes, and gestural application of paint is playful, gusty and confident. Lovely use of color!”
Honorable Mention – Café Creperie by Larry Spitzberg
“I just love the playful gestures of the figures. You’ve successfully captured the personality of three characters and the poignant moment when ordering at an outdoor café. Beautiful sense of light and layered brush work. Every stroke is purposeful and confident, nothing is overworked.”
Honorable Mention – Sights in the Heights by Kristen Peale
“I find this composition deeply captivating and ambitious! What a wonderful use of architectural collage! The push pull of the imagery pulsates across the page, pulling my eye in and out through the forms, advancing and receding with the perspective of each individual home. I think I recognized a few of the houses in my neighborhood!”
Honorable Mention – Hey, I’m Talking Here by Les McDonald, Jr.
“This painting made me laugh! I absolutely love the title, “Hey I’m Talking Here.” It captures the playful bantering gesture of two gulls. Not only do I find it humorous, but it is remarkably rendered. I am captivated by the detail in the wood pier and gulls. Nice contrast of hard and soft edges, they seem effortless, perfectly capturing the mood and atmospheric perspective of a cloudy day at the beach.”
Honorable Mention - The Ride by Lynda Jung
“What an ambitious composition. The one-point perspective of the road leading to the flag is a challenging task which could have easily become over baring and too one pointed. What a wonderful job of balancing the detail between the hard edges of the foreground with soft bleeds of the middle and background. I love the point of view of the cyclist riding through a crowded street full of carefully rendered characters, uniquely painted capturing the gesture of each individual bystander.”
Honorable Mention – Galverston Sidewalk by Cissy Geigerman
“I was instantly drawn to this piece because it effortlessly captures the impression of a sunny day at a beach town sidewalk café. The variety of brush strokes beautiful echoes the play of texture in the landscape, and the balance of warm and cool color contrast supports the sense of mid-day sunlight.”
Our monthly shows would not be possible without the work of the following valuable volunteers:
Nancy McMillan - Gallery Co-Director
Karen Stopnicki - Website Director
Cissy Geigerman - Website Administrator
Sally Hoyt - Website Administrator
Laura Mossman – Artist Liaison
Our September show has a theme of EXPERIMENTAL. The prospectus is currently available on the web page.
First Place – Huaco Falls by Cheryl Evans
“It was late Fall and like the rest of the world, I had been cooped up trying to wait out the pandemic. Tired of looking at the same 4 walls, I decided to put the dog in the car and go for a drive. Long story short, I ended up in New Braunfels, TX 205 miles away from my front door. The fall colors were jewel-like. The water of the river crystal clear, and reflecting pools spotlighted the trees dressed in their autumn finest. It was an "Aha Moment", and I knew it would make a wonderful painting. My challenge was to keep it clean. Keep it crisp. And keep the magic bubbling like the waters rushing by me.”
Third Place – My Favorite Place by Erika Just
“Sometimes the images that I paint are only in my mind, but the inspiration for my painting, My Favorite Place, is a real place. I live in Austria between the Lake Attersee and the Hell Mountain. When the snow started to melt and the sun was shining on to the frozen rocks, they came tumbling down into the forest behind the house and lucky enough they were stopped. Around 1850 somebody started to chisel the stairs into the Rock. It was a wonderful place. I could sit above the rest of the world, could dream and watch butterflies as they used me as their resting place. All my problems disappeared. “
Honorable Mention – Café Creperie by Larry Spitzburg
“Les Trois Amis was my preferred title in French. They were three friends with great hats and so cute they begged to be painted. So I tried to make them appealing and went for the viewer’s inner smile.”
Honorable Mention - Hey, I’m Talking Here by Les McDonald
“This painting captured a vision of the Laughing Gulls, who are very vocal. They always seem to be chattering at each other. It’s almost comical to watch them.”
Honorable Mention – Sights in the Heights by Kristel Peale
“During the covid quarantine, the only safe way of getting out of the condo was walking my little dog, Chloe. We went out every day on different streets, so neither of us would be bored. Every walk was an adventure. Whenever I saw a house in an unusual color (rampant throughout the Heights), I would stop and photograph it. Colors like this are not in River Oaks, Tanglewood nor any other part of Houston. I spent hours rescaling the photos and arranging the composition. I used the greenery to grid the vignettes and made special effort to balance the color. I know I spent at least a month actually painting. I would start with one house at a time and lay in the basics. All details, like fencing and railings, were done at the end.”
Honorable Mention – Galveston Sidewalk by Cissy Geigerman
“This painting is one of the few that flowed from my arm to the paper, especially the umbrellas. I wish I could conjure that feeling more often. The scene in Galveston was a hot day, pre-pandemic. The reference photo included a big iron fence enclosing the sidewalk tables, and many other extras that had to be edited out. I have gained confidence learning from Carla Gauthier and Ed Pettit. Sketching urban and city scenes helps me appreciate the details of things like light, angles, and color, and to see beauty in the ordinary. “
by Ksenia Annis, WAS-H Communications Director
There is no doubt that the WAS-H website is a great place for our members and guests. They can find information about events, see the latest show winners, sign up for classes, and read the blog. Guests can learn about our organization and, maybe, join.
Unfortunately, criminals are visiting our website as well.
No matter how hard WAS-H board of directors works to protect the information that is stored on the website, it is also important for every one of us to be aware of dangers and not give those scammers a chance to do harm.
Several recent attacks happened when con artists “harvested” emails from the teachers list on our blog.
They pretend to be one of the teachers and send emails to the rest of the list asking “to help out” with some money supposedly for WAS-H needs.
There were also instances when board members received emails with attachments supposedly pertaining to organization’s business but really meant to get sensitive personal info.
Emails have been removed from the Teacher’s List to prevent further attempts.
There are several things each one of us can do to recognize these scams.
When you receive any electronic communication( email, text message, or social media message (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) be on the lookout for the following suspicious requests:
Even if you recognize the name in the sender line, pause for just a second and double check the following:
Step 1. If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com. If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).
Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
A few other safety measures will go a long way in protecting you from online attacks.
All this seems like a lot of additional hassle, but unfortunately this is the reality we have to deal with on a daily basis. Remember, if you get questions or requests regarding WAS-H business, or need to contact a teacher and can’t find their email address, you can always contact our administrative assistant Laura and verify things with her or ask her to pass on a message. It is up to us all to be vigilant and not let criminals take advantage.
Les McDonald was among the winners of Splash 22 art competition. His painting "Our Own Corn" was included in The Best of Watercolor - a special issue of Artists Magazine and American Artist. For Les it was the second feature. Congratulations, Les!
I think that most of you have had that art teacher. The one that saw something in you that maybe you didn’t see in yourself. Perhaps that person nudged you in a direction that influenced your career choice, or maybe the nudge was just toward a lifetime love of producing art. Mine came in the third grade at Flato Elementrary in Kingsville, Texas. I was oblivious of trying to do something special in art. I just knew I loved to be putting marks on paper. I really don’t know what she saw in me, but she contacted my mother and offered to teach me to paint and draw without charge. Mrs. Wallace was her name and that encouragement led me to a degree in art education. I only taught for a few years, but the interest and love of art that she instilled in me has remained and brought me so much joy…and brought me to WAS-H when retirement allowed me time to indulge my passion.
When WAS-H was formed in 1975, the purpose of the organization, as stated in the bylaws, is “to further the cause and interest in watercolor art through teaching, programs, demonstrations, outreach and exhibitions”. Because of that, we are now some 46 years later able to work with a wide array of teachers that possess amazing talents and are creative and energetic as they nudge us on, just as my teacher did in the 3rd grade. They instruct, inspire and encourage us and make us see things about ourselves that we didn’t see before. They are such a huge part of what makes WAS-H such a first-class organization. We thank them and we honor them. We proudly display the works of 18 of those teachers in this month’s show. I hope you sign up for a class soon!
Our show this month also showcases works done in class or with other supervision. It’s such a great opportunity for students at all levels. For many, the Student Show is the first show they enter, an act that actually takes courage if you haven’t put your work up for public scrutiny before. It’s a steppingstone to entering other shows. The paintings entered were really wonderful and presented a challenge to our judge to pick just a few
One of our teachers, Ksenia Annis, graciously accepted our offer to judge our July show. Ksenia was born in Soviet Russia and educated to be an architect, a career that she pursued for 20 years in Russia and the U.S. However, in 2009, her primary passion to be a profession artist won her over and the classical drawing and painting training she had while studying to be an architect laid the groundwork for this to move forward. She dedicated the next few years of systematic studies in classes, workshops, and regular studio work. Then in 2014, she founded her company, Tummy Rubb Studio. She has created paintings, illustrations, and public art projects. Her primary focus now is teaching art classes in water media (watercolor, gouache and acrylic) and helping her students to achieve their own artistic goals. In addition to teaching at WAS-H, Ksenia is a very valuable volunteer. We appreciate the time that she took to carefully study the student entries. I will now let her tell you in her words what influenced her when she chose the winners:
1st place – Light and Shadows – Best time of day by Leisa Patin
“The artist very successfully created the illusion of sunlight and depth of space in the painting. Great composition with the room framing the window where we see just a hint of clouds. Darker passages of the interior guide our eye around the painting. I love the use of saturated colors while preserving transparency of paint. Full scale of tonal values, unity of the palette, dominance of warm colors with cool green and teal accents – all these subtle but important nuances make this a successful painting filled with warmth and charm.”
2nd place – Reflections by Kristel Peale
“I was really drawn to the complexity of meaning and beauty of execution in the painting. It doesn’t reveal itself at once to the viewer, but requires looking and thinking. Various textures, balanced tonal relationships, the juxtaposition of warm ochre and varied blues all contribute to the great result.
Additional kudos to the artist for incorporating the figure very successfully. It works as the focal point of the painting without distracting the eye with too many details.”
3rd place – Grandmother by Patty Mcgrath Jones
“Masterful handling of watercolor while painting such difficult subject as human face. I see a perfect combination of hard and soft edges, interesting use of texture, especially in the hair and in the background. Excellent drawing of the face and the resulting warm expression with a subtle smile (no small feat to achieve) all drew me to this painting.”
Honorable mention - The Universe: Objects May be Sharper Than They Appear by Marion Friedman “
“At the first glance his painting kept drawing my attention with its bold composition and color. It kept my eyes studying it as I discovered all the subtle details that the artist added. It achieves a balanced composition, has a variety of shapes and textures, movement, focal point, bright but harmonious color palette – all using the language of abstract painting.”
Honorable mention – Bird in Bamboo by Louise Bateman
“In this painting the artist demonstrates an assured, decisive handling of demanding materials and a substrate that does not allow any hesitation or corrections. Fluency of brush strokes, fine details, a reserved color palette are just a few of the great qualities this painting displays.”
Honorable mention - Resting Time by Kyunghee Johnson
“Hyper realistic style of this painting clearly demonstrates a high level of control of watercolor, especially in delicate color variations in the white fur. Despite all the fine details, the paint remains transparent, the overall form is well-described and the painting has depth of space.”
Karen Stopniki - Website Director
Cissy Giegerman - Website Administrator
Laura Mossman - Executive Assistant
Our August show has a theme of SCAPES (LAND, SEA, & CITY). The prospectus is currently available on the web page.
First Place – Light and Shadows – Best time of day by Leisa Patin
Light and Shadows – the Right Time of Day was begun in Carla Gauthier’s Light and Shadow virtual class in September of 2020, and completed the day after (I’m a slow painter!). Carla posted a picture to use that she took at just the “right time of day” in her living room; a perfect contrast of bright light through the curtained window coming directly at the viewer, and the darker areas to the side. I used both my computer screen image (for the light and hues) and one I printed for the shapes. We also had an image in black and white to determine the contrasts.
I’ve made and used value charts before, but never thought of punching holes to compare the value of what I mixed with the value I was trying to achieve. Usually, I began paintings with a neutral underpainting, often Payne’s Grey. But Carla suggested yellow for the mid and darker level areas in this picture. I believe the only masking I did was to depict the blinds and floorboards, using the “card method” that Carla suggested, although I used the edge of a metal erasing shield from my drafting days. Most importantly, I mixed glazes for the rich brown shadowed areas and allowed the pigments to separate into reds and blues to contrast with the yellow from the bright light. I love all the techniques using tools and paints that Carla offers in her classes – so helpful!
Second Place – Reflections by Kristel Peale
The exercise given in Ellen Orseck's class was to have the background define the subject. I shot the photo as reflected in my glass balcony doors. It defines me as an urban art collector. You are seeing some of my interior (with bits of my collection) as well as city lights with a bit of downtown skyline in far back left.
Third Place – Grandmother by Patty Mcgrath Jones
During my classes the artists/instructors had a great impact as far as their expertise in handling portraits. The expert knowledge that they shared with me and the classes really were superb. Texturing backgrounds and methods that they used were amazing. The hair on my portrait of “grandmother” was wispy. Cheryl Evans proposed the use of water and placing around the hair at a 1/2 inch away from the head to make it look very soft. This was accomplished on Zoom because of Covid. Ksenia Annis helped us by executing fast portraits and pointed to several values and quick strokes to capture the action and feeling of the people. This was also a Zoom class due to Covid 19.
Honorable Mention – Bird in Bamboo by Louise Bateman
I was inspired by my love of Chinese art and culture. Chinese brush paintings are very calming and zen-like. This technique has taught me to slow down and be mindful as I put my brush and paints to the rice paper. I want to thank my teacher and mentor, Peihong Endris, who has infinite patience when working with me.
Honorable Mention – Resting Time by Kyunghee Johnson
I like to paint flowers and animals. When I saw that tiger laying in his den, he looked so peaceful. I looked into his eyes, and we could almost talk about how his day had been. l loved that he gave me calmness and peace. I had to paint him!
Honorable Mention – The Universe: Objects May be Sharper Than They Appear by Marion Friedman
This painting and my other submissions for this year's student show were all completed as assignments for Ellen Orseck's excellent class, Abstraction: Organic and Geometric. It was amazing how this one class encouraged my creativity and willingness to have fun with my art. I expect it to have a lasting impact on the direction my art goes from here. In this particular painting while focusing on basic geometric shapes, an unexpected narrative emerged, and I went with it. This painting also represents my greatest success in applying salt and alcohol to achieve different textures.
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