Donate to WAS-H
Since 1967, Les McDonald, Jr. has resided in Houston, Texas. He received a BS degree from Sam Houston State University majoring in commercial art with a minor in photography. He worked in advertising and owned an advertising agency until 1986. Following that career, Les determined to become a full-time fine artist. Switching from painting in oils to working in watercolors, he became a member of WAS-H. Les says that watercolors are his favorite media because he can experiment more with watercolor than any other media combined. With watercolors Les like to paint, drool, scratch, dab, mop, salt and incorporate a wide variety of other skills.
Les believes that nature presents us with a never-ending source of memorable images. With his paintings, he captures these moments and freezes them in time. As an artist who paints in a highly realistic style, he captures the detail, the mood, and the essence of the subjects that he paints. One collector of Les’ works says that he can feel the salt air on his neck when he looks at Les’ painting depicting birds hitching a ride on the Bolivar ferry. Another collector said that when he looks at a Les McDonald painting, he knows that Les has been there as he captures the scene so realistically. People frequently mistake Les’ paintings for photographs.
Les is frequently asked, “How are you able to paint with such high detail?” Because of his keen desire to share his knowledge with students, Les has responded to these questions by offering to instruct students. In 2014 he began teaching watercolor workshops at the Watercolor Art Society in Houston. Through classes at WAS-H and other venues, he demonstrates and teaches techniques that bring paintings from a highly detailed drawing to a finished painting. Students comment that they appreciate his patience, knowledge, of materials, methods, and encouragement.
Les began entering WAS-H competitions in the 1990’s and was encouraged when he was first accepted in the International Show. Since then, he has been accepted in nine International Shows and numerous Membership Shows. In 2013, Les achieved Elite Signature status at WAS-H. He also achieved signature status in the Society of Watercolor Artists and the South Western Watercolor Artists Association. Les’ paintings have been selected for many awards. His painting “Dining Out” won a first-place award in the 2021 WAS-H Membership Show. He is especially excited about having this painting accepted in the 2023 American Watercolor Society International Show in New York City. Les has featured paintings published in the Splash 2017, 2021, 2022 and 2023 editions. Les continuously takes his inspiration for his paintings from nature which generates his desire to paint. When he is not hunting or fishing, Les can be reached at his Houston studio.
Les’ next class will be March 25th/26th, painting the following image, Strawberries and Blueberries.
To put on a world-class IWE show, we need your help!
Click HERE to sign-up and let us know how you'd like to participate.
Dates: Friday, March 3, Saturday, March 4,
Sunday, March 5, or Friday, March 31
We need un-craters, curators, servers, sales assistance, set-up crews and clean-up crews, and re-craters.
New Members Orientation
Saturday, February 25 at 11 am.
While this session is designed for new members, everyone is welcome to attend. There is no fee, but online registration is required.
Click HERE to register.
By Karen Stopnicki, WAS-H President
Dear WAS-H Friends,
It’s hard to believe it is already February and we will be trimming roses and crape myrtles in another week. Personally, I am looking forward to a long season of beautiful Spring blooming plants around Houston, the more vibrant the better.
Our January Paint-In on the 4th with Alison Hendry Hughes is sold out, but if you are interested, please register for the waitlist. Plans change and frequently a last-minute spot will open.
The February General Meeting on the 5th will feature award winning artist and WAS-H teacher Susan Giananntonio. She will be sharing a wonderful technique of collage with water media, for which she has a new class series. Following the meeting and demo, we will have the February Fire and Ice Show awards presentation and reception with juror Dena Woodall. I am excited to enjoy everything going on at WAS-H this Sunday!
The International Watermedia Exhibition (IWE) is just around the corner, opening reception on March 5th. Please plan to come see the month-long exhibition, as IWE Chair, Donna Van Fleet, has told me she has seen the entries accepted and it is absolutely breathtaking. If you have friends in town, bring them, or if you have a book club or other social group, organize a morning visit, and then have lunch at one of the wonderful Montrose area restaurants. What could be better than sharing art with friends?
In conjunction with the IWE, we will host a workshop taught by Brenda Swenson. The workshop, Negative Painting with Watercolor, is full, and we are currently accepting waitlist registration, HERE.
Our Spring classes are open for registration, and while several are full, we still have availability in many fun classes. See our full class list HERE . Registering for a class is a great way to enjoy the camaraderie of other artists and enhance your artistic skills. Our standard events such as Open Studio, Model Lab and Senior Group are busier than ever. Keep an eye on our website for information about other upcoming events in March, April and May.
I was talking with one of our favorite WAS-H teachers, Fred Kingwill, and lamented I haven’t had much time to paint recently. He urged me to visualize painting each day when I couldn’t be in the studio. As he sang the praises of visualizing an activity to stay sharp, maintain readiness and make improvements, I imagined myself putting aside a few minutes every day to mentally paint pictures. Thank you, Fred, I am on it!
I hope you will join with everything going on at WAS-H – thank you for being a part of our wonderful arts community at WAS-H!
Karen Houston Stopnicki
When Pablo Picasso added cut up newspapers and pieces of wallpaper to his cubist compositions, fervor for collage developed. Initially called papier collé, French for glued paper, collage artists assemble recognizable pieces from everyday life into new original artworks.
Come see and hear Susan Giannantonio demonstrate collage-making at the monthly Members Meeting
February 5th, 2 p.m.
The awards presentation and reception will follow the demonstration.
The juror for this show, "Fire and Ice", is Dena M. Woodall, PhD. Curator of Prints and Drawings, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Dr. Woodall oversees a varied collection of drawings, watercolors, prints, artists’ books, and print matrices created between the 12th-21st centuries from around the world. Dena earned her Ph.D. in art history from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining the MFAH in 2008, Dr. Woodall served as fellow in the prints & drawings department at the Cleveland Museum of Art and research associate at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Kinder Building hosts the Museum’s international collections of modern and contemporary art and she curates bi-annual installations of prints and drawings devoted to the specific histories and mediums of printmaking and drawing. Dr. Woodall is currently working on an exhibition and catalogue of the Stuart Collection, dedicated to British drawings and watercolors from the 18th and 19th centuries. She is an affiliated professor in art history at Rice University. Dena has been a member of the Print Council of America since 2012. In the last few years, she has assisted with editing the PCA Newsletter.
Congratulations to Daniela Werneck, who is included in the latest issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine for this year’s Watermedia Showcase.
Congratulations to Les McDonal. His beautiful painting "Great Blue at Rest" is selected as a finalist in Splash 24: The Best of Watercolor art competition! As a finalist, his artwork will be published in a special issue of Artists Magazine set to hit newsstands in July 2023.
February is the month for both.
This is the month to be expressive and communicate through your paintbrush.
Paintings are a way to express our emotions without spoken language. This month, we will try to make a connection with others through this outlet.
Paintings can have general subjects and aim to convey an emotional aspect.
Deadline to submit is February 1st, 3pm
To see the prospectus, click HERE
To register, click HERE
Monthly Membership Meeting
February 5, 2 p.m.
Susan Giannantonio demonstrates "Collage"
"One person's trash is another person's treasure".
Tissue paper, threads from textiles, bits of colored papers, paper toweling, portions of artwork, paint . . . gar-bage' ? No, collage! Ingredients for a pictorial feast! But, what's the recipe for producing a collage?
Come to the February Membership Meeting to see Susan Giannantonio cook up a picture-perfect demonstration of collage-making. Susan is a long-standing, beloved member of the WAS-H community, having served as President in the past and now as instructor of WAS-H classes. Come see her demo on February 5.
A new year awaits! This year we are starting off with a fresh look at the joys of painting with abandon for our theme “Experimental”. The gallery has many innovative works that offer different styles and techniques. Many thanks to our primary volunteer this time, Mansueto Fabugais, and as always Laura Mossman for expert help in organizing the space.
Our judge, Matt Adams is a Houston-based collector and President of the Visual Arts Alliance (www.VisualArtsAlliance.org) for the past 13 years and has helped produce 30 professional juried exhibits. He has also written about local artists on his blog (www.HALT713.com). Previously a curator for Brookfield Office Properties downtown, Matt has produced exhibits with local artists in corporate spaces. His passion is for supporting local artists, their artworks and their activities. We were pleased to have him evaluate our entries and he found them fascinating. Here are some of his thoughts and comments from the awardees:
Matt Adams: Artworks that contain a surprise are more captivating than those that are an “easy read”, I think. The surprise in this is that it is a cutout mounted over a surface. Another hallmark of a successful artwork is one that directs the viewer’s eye and this piece certainly does that. Finally, I appreciate the formality of a single object being meticulously placed within a field and this piece certainly demonstrates that.
Katie Steck: I've been getting more interested in exploring creative uses of the watercolor paper itself as part of a watercolor piece. Although it's difficult to tell from a photograph, the center part of the painting is cut out and mounted with some subtle folding/bending of the paper to make the subject come forward in a more engaging way. I chose to title it "Fortune Teller" to encourage the viewer to engage and ask the piece questions--hopefully receiving an interesting answer about themselves in the process :)
“Of Coachmen and Carriages”
Matt Adams: This piece has a surprise in it - the seam of two pieces of paper. This seemingly simple creative decision carries a lot of significance in my eyes. The amount of motion in the figures brings the composition to life, making me feel like I’m in the city scape myself. Finally, I like that the scene carries off all four edges of the paper; we are being given just a fraction of a much larger scene thereby engaging the viewer’s imagination.
Larry Spitzberg: I started out thinking I would make a collage out of the 4 18x24 inch recent paintings I had from Brugge, Belgium of coachmen, horses, and carriages. I moved the four around randomly but once I accidently put these two paintings next to each other they popped! So I cut one to make the 48 inch max with frame and repainted both together so they would look like a panorama. Voila! It worked!
Matt Adams: There is a subtle, successful surprise in this artwork - the hard edge defining the upper-left portion of the composition. There are two components within this composition, the relationship of which holds the viewer’s attention. Finally, although this is obviously inspired by the art deco/cubist styles, it reads as completely contemporary to 2023.
Maria Rodriguez-Alejo:Usually, my paintings have a lot of texture, glazing and vibrant colors. So, for this one I wanted to do something different. I decided to experiment with geometric shapes, painting flat and with a limited palette. I planned a diagonal composition. I started by painting one big shape and then adding other shapes tied to each other creating angles and depth (I guess the diagonal composition got a bit lost in this process…) There is also molding paste on two areas/shapes to create a 3D effect with some shading to accentuate the illusion of depth. I keep working on painting loose and this painting is not that. But I like how this painting turned out. It was a bit stressful to do all those hard edges, but I think it has a vintage feel that I really like. I’m happy others liked it too!
Honorable Mention - Kim Granhaug
Matt Adams: This artist is definitely a mark maker, demonstrating many styles of marks. The result is a lyrical, vibrant composition that just falls off all the edges. Perhaps this is a jubilant piece for downcast times?
Kim Granhaug: I love making marks and this piece was fun to do. I was definitely meaning to create a mood for celebration.
Honorable Mention - Katherine Rodgers
“L’art de Vivre en Rouge (The art of living in Red)”
Matt Adams: This artwork demonstrates experimentation in materials in a very successful, fun way. The buildup of collage elements and media provides a lot of narrative content that engages the interested viewer.
Katherine Rodgers: The painting, "L'art de vivre en rouge" is the first of my series from "The Art of Living Series." The series was started while at an artist residency in France last winter. The start of the Ukraine-Russia war had just begun while I was there and I was watching people leave all of their belongings and flee their homes. It made me think about what is needed and necessary to live a good life and to answer the question, "what is the art of living?" The poppy is very symbolic of the blood on the battlefield from previous wars and is often worn as a symbol of support for veterans so it is the key subject of the painting. The French advertisements in the background are from the 1950's and symbolize the marketing of consumer goods that are supposed to be part of a good life; alcohol, chocolates, fine watches, and beauty creams. Do these things help with the art of living?
Honorable Mention - Pat Waughtal
“In the Stillness”
Matt Adams: This composition is an excellent case study in the “negative space vs. neglected space” conversation. The large area of ’nothing’ is NOT neglected by the artist whatsoever, it is very purposeful and intelligently rendered negative space. And now that we are pulled into the picture, our eyes are very satisfied wandering around to the other areas of the composition. We can continue our conversation about the use of edges here where the artist has broken only part of an edge - a nice touch of tension. Finally, the presentation is outstanding.
Pat Waughtal: “IN THE STILLNESS” evolved from a failed painting of a seascape that was a cross between Impressionistic and abstract. I didn’t like the result so I started painting over it and rubbing out many times. I used brushes, palette knives, paper towels and my fingers. Eventually an ethereal look began to appear which I enhanced with soft yellows and peach in the sky. I always liked the foreground but I added a more textured look with acrylic ink and let it run and drip.
My biggest challenge was the framing. The painting is on gessoed Arches 140lb. paper. I wanted to use a drop in frame that I had bought at Michaels that turned out not to be a true 16'x20” frame. I cut gatorboard to size and glued the watercolor paper to the board with matte medium. Screws would not hold the gatorboard in place so I ended up using adhesive backed velcro strips to hold it in place. I was glad that Matt said the frame was perfect for the piece because it had caused me to do a lot of problem solving.
©Watercolor Art Society - Houston. All images are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.