• May 05, 2021 2:23 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    The WAS-H May show, with the theme of Portraits and the Human Figure, showcases 57 paintings that once again display the immense skill and creativity of our members.   There are lovingly sensitive portraits, narrative images that make you yearn for the whole story, and mysterious abstracts…evidence of how our creative minds can take one subject in so many different directions.  As I viewed the images when they were coming in, I was reminded of how happy I am to be part of this exceptionally talented WAS-H community.  It made me want to rush to my studio and try out new ideas. The work of a few energizes and inspires the whole. I hope you think of the contribution you make to the whole when you enter our shows!  Thank you May participants!

    See the winners and all the participating paintings here.

    We were so very pleased to welcome Bradley Kerl as judge of the May show.  Bradley comes to us via the MFAH Glassell School of art where he teaches life-drawing and watercolor.  How perfect is it that he was able to judge this show with the theme of Portraits and the Human Body!   He was born in Beaumont, TX and is a painter as well as an instructor.  He holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of North Texas and an MFA from the University of Houston.  His work has been exhibited widely in the US, including solo exhibitions at Gold Diggers, Los Angeles, CA,  Jonathan Hopson Gallery, Galveston Arts Center and Art Palace Gallery and in numerous group-shows internationally.  He has also been featured in the publications: New American Paintings No. 138, Friend of The Artist: Volume 7 and Texas Monthly. 

    Bradley shared that it was difficult to narrow his choice down to just six.   I’ll let him tell you in his words what ultimately influenced him.


    First Place:  Larry Spitzberg – Daddy Holds Me Tight

    At first glance, I was struck by the very ruddy palette and the tones in this painting by Larry Spitzberg. Upon subsequent looks, a story began to emerge: the boy and his father caught in the act of some everyday activity with indications of something more. In the end, it was the tinge of mystery and the nondescript background full of beautiful, loose watercolor mark-making and techniques that sent this particular painting over the edge for me. I appreciate a painting that leaves a bit of room for the viewer to fill in the gaps themselves, and this painting provides ample opportunity to create your own story.”

    Second Place:  Cheryl Evans - Mama’s Chicks

    "Mama's Chicks" is another painting that tells a story. This seemingly everyday event is tinted and enhanced by the exaggerated color in the underpainting and washes and in the use of some splashy watercolor technique in the blooms in the foreground. I enjoy the timelessness of the image -- it's hard to place the time period, although I suspect it's in the past -- and the fact that it's not overly fussy in the rendering of the figure and objects.”

    Third Place:  Alli Chaitanya - Deep Thought

    “What a striking image! Beyond the obvious remarkable technical proficiency of Alli Chaitanya, this painting allows the viewer plenty of room to read into and/or to ask questions: Who is this man? Where does he come from? What is he thinking? What has he seen? I am compelled to ask these questions (and more) and yearn a bit to find him so that I can. The composition itself lends a cinematic feel, which I think is a big part of the feeling that this is but one snapshot in a bigger saga.”

    Honorable Mention:  Kristel Peale - Homage to Bob

    “Who is Bob and why is he receiving this homage? Like all of my other picks, this image seems to suggest a larger narrative. I was immediately struck by the very specific, soft light in this painting. I love the dappled light of the trees in the background and all of the cool tones. Again, like most of my other picks, "Homage to Bob" combines strategic rendering where appropriate with looser, less fussy moments of watercolor painting in seamless fashion.”

    Honorable Mention:  Pat Waughtal - Making Music

    “Who doesn't love a tuba? For me, there's a decent amount of humor in this painting by Pat Waughtal, along with technical skill with the paint, good drawing, good color and strong composition. It also has a TUBA! I was really impressed with the technical flourishes in the reflection on the mirrored brass surface and in the detailed regalia.”

    Honorable Mention:  Annika Farmer - Boris in Paradise

    “Boris and his Pomeranian stole my heart! The title of this painting seems to suggest more than a bit of joy, which is always welcome. Along with the implied story, I found the balance of figure/ground and detail/looseness very compelling in this particular piece. There's just as much landscape to get lost in as there is figurative detail to admire.”

    Thank you, Gallery Team:  This show would never have happened without the energy and time of our online show team:  Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigerman, Nancy McMillian and Beth Graham.


    Looking ahead:   Watch for the prospectuses of our up-coming shows that are posted on our webpage about 2 months ahead of the show!  We have some interesting themes and amazing judges. The theme for the June show is Abstract.  We’re also planning to return to the in-gallery shows in September!  We’re working this transition, so stay tuned for details.  I can’t wait to see each of you and your work in person. Remember, your participation supports WAS-H and keeps our wonderful organization prospering.

  • May 05, 2021 2:21 PM | Ksenia Annis

    FIRST PLACE: Daddy Holds Me Tight by Larry Spitzberg

    Knowing that the facial details are most important when showing the human figure, I used a large sheet of cold pressed paper. Halfway through the boy’s face, I stopped and said I like that innocent look don’t you dare do any more. I hit some red on the cheek and quit. The next day I looked at the painting and the man’s face was weak. I took a dark color straight from the tube and used the dry brush technique to only hit the hills of the paper and give texture and a weathered look. As luck would have it both worked.

    HONORABLE MENTION – Homage to Bob - Kristel Peale

    The portrait is of my husband, Bob Peale, who passed away in February of last year. I did this painting shortly after his death. Whereas he had been ailing for some time and was frail and painfully thin at 80, I chose to paint him when he was still as vibrant as the summer day in Natchez when the photo was taken. He was about 50. It is how I want to remember him.

    HONORABLE MENTION: Boris in Paradise by Annika Farmer

    Boris in Paradise was painted as part of a series I am working on during this COVID 19 social distancing period. All the paintings are based on photographs I have taken on previous vacations.

    This was a man I met in a botanical garden in Bermuda, he was wearing a hat that made an interesting pattern on his shirt, and I asked him if I could take his picture, he gladly said yes, but insisted on taking off his hat, so that is how I photographed him.

    HONORABLE MENTIONMaking Music by Pat Waughtal

    A few years ago, my husband and I visited Russia on a trip with the UT Flying Longhorns.  The photo of The Music Man was taken outside the Hermitage where a Russian band greeted us with a rendition of Deep in the Heart of Texas.  My husband took this photo, and I had wanted to paint it for years because I loved the bright colors and strong contrasts, but was daunted by the details.

    After drawing the composition in pencil, I decided to use watercolor pencils to lay in the local colors in all the right places.  This helped me not get confused and lost in the details.  I used a damp brush and went over the pencil color in the smaller areas of the braid and hat decorations.  I mixed my black using alizarin crimson, veridian green and ultra-blue in a small cup so that I would have enough paint to complete the hat and not have to remix.  I used my watercolor pencils again to add detail to the braid and deepen shadows in places after I had finished the painting.

    I accidentally drew this painting on a sample piece of Winsor & Newton paper.  I learned from this experience that I much prefer to work on Arches, my usual paper.  Arches has a harder finish and doesn’t abrade as easily.

  • May 04, 2021 10:13 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Jan McNeill, Paint-In Coordinator

    Paint-ins are slowly making a return!  We are resuming Paint-Ins starting in May with a ZOOM format 9:30-12:30.   Our initial slate of instructors include:

    • May 8 – Susan Giannantonio
    • June 12 – Ksenia Annis
    • July  - no Paint-in
    • August 14 – Caroline Graham

    Sign up for a Paint-in on the WASH website in the Paint-in section of Education.  We hope to see you!

    Starting in September, we will return to the pre-COVID format of in-person class 9:30-3:30.  By September, we expect all attendees will have been vaccinated so that we can allow the usual 25 attendees.

    Terry Oakes will be co-facilitating our Paint-ins with Jan McNeill.

    We look forward to resuming this important WASH activity!

  • April 26, 2021 9:47 PM | Ksenia Annis

    I want to thank all the volunteers who have worked so hard to make this 2020-2021 year a success at WAS-H, in spite of the pandemic. We are still here, still fulfilling our mission to promote watercolor art.

    I have been honored to serve as your President this past year, and despite the challenges we didn’t just survive, we thrived! My term started May 1 and:

    • By May 8 we made the technology switch needed to offer virtual classes, thanks to the home broadcast abilities of our early online pioneers Ksenia Annis, Susan Giannantonio, and Ed Pettit, ZOOM, and Nicole Hansen, 2020 education director.
    • We purchased broadcast hardware enabling us to broadcast demos and classes from the WAS-H classroom, utilizing our incredible overhead document camera, and switching between internet websites, laptop slide shows of artwork, videos, and live instruction.
    • In the year since COVID struck we have hosted 221 online ZOOM and in-person class sessions, which included two 5-day major March workshops with Eric Weigardt (2020) and Keiko Tanabe (2021).
    • By June 1 we re-opened our monthly shows to virtual monthly gallery exhibits, with online registration and fee collection, digital painting photo upload, a class to help artists with this, and an online gallery to showcase the paintings and sell them. We continued this way every month, including our Annual Members Show and our International Watercolor Exhibit.
    • General Meetings, held monthly using Zoom, had participation ranging from 60-98 each month, with most staying online for the demo, no less than in past years, even though we missed our reception snacks and visits. Door prize gift certificates were emailed to winners of the online drawing.
    • Monthly Board Meetings kept everyone safe using ZOOM to review documents, discuss issues, and vote on motions, but sadly without our wonderful pastries by Tom Kraycirick.
    • We found a way to offer members no-contact early voting by proxy and regular election day (April 11) voting ballots using digital ballots sent via email. While we all may grumble about technology, it was a key part of this year’s life raft.
    • We replaced the upstairs AC unit, utilizing savings carefully set aside by previous boards for just this purpose.
    • We had three unexpected personnel changes and while personnel changes mid-stream can rattle an organization, ours has been strengthened. We brought on board a dynamic, outstanding new Education Director (Diann Zimmerman), a fantastic, IRS experienced tax attorney- new Treasurer (Kathleen Cooper), and while Martin Butler enjoys his retirement, we are interviewing from a pool of highly qualified applicants for a new Executive Assistant.
    • Thanks to YOU our membership levels stayed very strong, and our Annual Fund Raiser was a success! THANK YOU!

    I want to especially thank the dedicated (and FUN) members of our 2020-2021 Board of Directors:

    Karen Capper, Vice-President                           Laurie Hammons, Secretary

    Kathleen Cooper, Treasurer                              Ksenia Annis, Communications Director

    Patty Armstrong, Admin Resources                  Louise Bateman, Past President

    Kathleen Church, AME Director                        Paula Fowler, Gallery Director

    Sally Hoyt, Volunteer Director                           E. Thomas Kraycirik, IWE Director                    

    Karen Stopnicki, Website Director                     Philip Weigand, At-Large Director   

    Diann Zimmerman, 2021 Education Director  

    I am excited about the team of people that will lead WAS-H in the 2021-2022 year, beginning this month. Philip Weigand and Ahlene Shong will provide wonderful leadership as the Co-Presidents. Donna Van Fleet and Irene Sheytman will be strong officers as Co-Vice Presidents. This team approach is a wonderful way to share ideas and the work. Adele Raber will serve as Secretary and Kathleen Cooper is returning as Treasurer. And creative, kind, dedicated people fill out the dozen directorships that keep WAS-H vibrant. Look for more about them in the coming months.

    It is going to be a great year! Thank you for your support and kind words throughout the year. They truly do make a difference. I look forward to painting with you and visiting together during receptions. Keep your brushes wet and keep painting!

    In grateful appreciation,

    Beth Graham, WAS-H President 2020-2021

  • April 14, 2021 8:46 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    We weathered the worst freeze most of us remember just a few weeks ago and now spring growth is peeking through the frozen remains of our gardens and bringing us joy…and yes, a few sore muscles from clearing out the dead plants!  We also experienced a taste of spring joy as we opened the images of the 40 wonderful painting that were entered into our April show.  The theme was People and Places, and it was a chance to focus on places real and imagined and people dear to us or only observed from a distance.    See the winners and all the participating paintings here.

    We were honored to welcome as our juror this month nationally known artist and teacher, Don Andrews, who has conducted painting workshops throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Africa for over 30 years.  Don is a signature member and past board director of the American Watercolor Society and his paintings have received numerous awards in national watercolor competitions, including three awards from the American Watercolor Society, and two Best of Show awards from the New England Watercolor Society.  You can view his work, his books and classes at his website donandrewsstudio.com.  His demo at the Zoom reception of his loose, wet in wet technique made me want to rush to my studio and try to redo my latest landscapes.  If you missed his workshop, check out some of his videos. 

    Don shared with me his juror’s statement for this show and then a summary statement about the winners:


    • ·         “The WAS-H April 2021- People and Places online show is a testament to our diverse love of the medium of watercolor.
    • ·         My award selections were based on the artist’s application of color and design principles in their work. Technical skill, gained through much thought and hard work is also appreciated.
    • ·         It was a pleasure to serve as this year’s judge and thanks to all who participated.”


    First Place:  Larry Spitzberg - New Orleans Conversation

    “Overlapping figures in a three-dimensional circular design enhance this personal interpretation.”

          Second Place:  Maureen Lewis - Perfect Medicine

    “The emotional story is backed by strong composition.”

          Third Place:  Mohammad Ali Bhatti - Burnes Road Karachi

    “This structural city-scape is built on value control of lights and darks.”

          Honorable Mention:  Jan McNeill - Sand Party

    “Rich granular washes weld the figure to the reflections.”

          Honorable Mention:  Trish Poupard - Freckled Angel

    “A unique division of space, action and rest, unify the painting rectangle.”

          Honorable Mention:  Yasue Motoko - The Cliff Island

    “An intriguing view into the creative mind of the artist.”

    To learn more about our winning artists and their works, please read Winners’ Words here.

    This show would never have happened without the energy and time of our online show team:  Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigerman, Nancy McMillian and Beth Graham.

    Looking ahead:   Watch for the prospectuses of our up-coming shows that are posted on our webpage about 2 months ahead of the show!  We have some interesting themes and amazing judges.  We’re also planning to return to the in-gallery shows in September!  Stay tuned for details.    I can’t wait to see each of your and your work in person. Remember, your participation supports WAS-H and keeps our wonderful organization prospering!

  • April 14, 2021 8:45 AM | Ksenia Annis

    FIRST PLACE: New Orleans Conversation by Larry Spitzberg

    Between bites of beignets, I snapped New Orleans characters. This group was a small part of a photo that I didn’t even notice till I got home. What were these two diverse people talking about? I had to paint them.

    SECOND PLACE: Perfect Medicine by Maureen Lewis

    I have wanted to paint this painting for many years and finally decided to tackle it.  My mother spent the last two years of her life bedridden in a nursing home. During this difficult time, she cherished visits from family.  This painting depicts the day that she met her great-granddaughter and namesake.  For me, this painting is a celebration of family and a tribute to my mother.   This was the first time I have tried to chronicle a family event in a painting.  It was important to me to capture the fragility of my mother and the connection she felt for her great grandchild. I hope that viewers will feel that connection.

    HONORABLE MENTION: Freckled Angel by Trish Poupard

    It was truly an emotional roller coaster as I began this painting as a tribute to my brother’s stepdaughter who recently passed away from brain cancer at 9 years old.  Focusing on the light emanating from her spirit kept me going.  The rough part was painting her map of freckles as I imagined her mother’s heart breaking at the thought that she won’t be able to kiss those sweet little beauty marks ever again.  Of course, my tears are speckled throughout her visage as well.  The title is proven true, as she is surely now an angel in heaven. 

  • April 06, 2021 1:13 PM | Ksenia Annis

    We are happy to present volunteers slated to become WAS-H Board of Directors for the year 2021-2022. Click here to vote for them online!


    Philip has been around watercolor for all of his life. His dad was an architect and he has fond memories of him working on his watercolor renderings at his drafting table, painting in his sketchbook, and working alongside him in his art studio. So for Philip, watercolor provides a lot of wonderful memories of family, travels, and seeking new adventures. One of his favorite things is sharing watercolor with his kids - they keep it exciting!

    Professionally he’s been in the Oil & Gas Industry for over 10 years and found that watercolor is a great way to tap into a creative outlet and gain fresh perspectives. “I’m inspired by Peter Spier’s pen and wash techniques, Ratindra Das’ bold shapes and colors, and the brushwork of Eudes Correia and Joseph Zbukvic. Texas landscapes, seascapes, and European architecture are all themes I really enjoy painting.”


    Ahlene was born near Manchester, England, then immigrated to Ohio, USA. She earned a BS in Geology from Cleveland State University and an MS in Earth Science at Case Western Reserve University. She is still married to her high school sweetheart, with their 48th anniversary coming up this year.

    She moved to Houston in 1978 and worked as an exploration geologist for nine years. Ahlene taught elementary math and science for 21 years and has been retired for about eight years now. 

    Ahlene never took any art classes, but always appreciated art, particularly watercolor paintings. She’s been a member of WAS-H for several years, has taken several workshops and volunteers on the “take-in” days for the gallery exhibits. She also enjoyed participating in the WAS-H outreach program at Texas Children’s Hospital, which was discontinued last year due to the pandemic.

    “I think WAS-H is a wonderful organization; I have felt so welcome amongst the members. I would be glad to serve on the board this year, for I feel like I need to “do my part” to share the load to keep WAS-H running at peek capacity, always growing, always evolving. Thank you for your support for me and each other.”


    During a 31-year management career with IBM Corporation, Donna was named by Business Week magazine as one of the "Top 100 Women in Computing." Since retiring, Donna has served as a member of the boards of a number of nonprofit organizations and was featured in the Austin American-Statesman as one of 12 "movers and shakers" who make things happen in Austin. Donna's eagerness to experience diverse cultures has taken her on extensive worldwide excursions, and a fortuitous meeting of Jan Shrader on a trip through the Far East introduced Donna to WAS-H.

    Since the pandemic, home-alone isolation in her Galveston Gulf-side idyll has afforded Donna opportunity to indulge her lifelong passion for art. Having dabbled with only acrylic painting on limited occasions, Donna was a neophyte to watercolor painting, and now WAS-H's virtual classes have become a weekly staple.

    "With leadership experience in a vast array of nonprofit enterprises and boundless zeal for art, I consider it a gift to serve WAS-H as co-vice president.”


    Irene’s romance with watercolor started when she studied architecture in college at the Azerbaijan Engineering and Construction University in Baku. Among other subjects, watercolor painting was a prerequisite for architectural rendering.

    Like many of us, life forced her to set painting aside. But when she finally had more free time on her hands, she started painting again. She realized the need to develop her own visual language to express thoughts and emotions, painting light and darkness, depicting the mood of a scene, or creating order from chaos. Irene loves to travel and to see new places, cities, and countries. That is part of why historical architecture is her passion, visiting little forgotten villages, climbing up walls of medieval citadels, and scrutinizing paintings or mosaics on cathedral ceilings.

    “I have been a member of WAS-H for many years and enjoyed plenty of workshops and classes. But most of all, I appreciate simply being a part of a great group of art enthusiasts and appreciators.”


    Adele Raber is a retired pediatrician from Canada. She and her husband raised their family and practiced in Houston since 1978. In normal times Adele splits her year between London and Houston so she may not be a familiar face to all WAS-H members, but when she joins the WAS-H board of directors she will definitely become one.

    Watercolor cast its spell on Adele many years ago in a tiny neighborhood frame house where Polly Hammet was the instructor. Since then Adele has taken many workshops and classes, quit, tried again, quit, bought too many art supplies to really quit and so continued on. Adele took a monoprint course and the core course at Glassel , "An Introduction to Bauhaus" course in London, and 2 puppet making classes.

    “I still love chasing impish watercolors that behave so much like naughty kids.”


    Kathleen grew up in Schenectady, NY , moved to Daytona Beach, Florida where her engineer father had been transferred to work on a contract with NASA. Kathleen attended the University of Florida for college and Law School, then moved to Houston.

    She worked for 22 years at Marathon Oil Company as Senior Tax Counsel, International. At the end of 2009 she retired for the first time, and joined WAS-H.

    In 2012 she returned to work in a job with the IRS as a Revenue Agent examining the foreign transactions of large corporations, and after 7 years there, retired in 2019. “Alas, my retirement plans have been stymied by Covid 19, but hopefully we will soon be able to paint together once again!”

  • March 31, 2021 3:06 PM | Ksenia Annis


    Spring is always a season of rebirth and excitement about the future. We have a return to in-person events to look forward to (without discarding online classes), a wonderful team of directors eager to work on your behalf, and amazing Major Artists coming. Kim Minichiello will be here in October 2021 for the AME exhibit and workshop, and Mark Mehaffey will join us in March 2022 for our IWE show and workshop. Ryan Fox will be here in October 2022, and Brenda Swenson will be here March 2023. We are scheduling Major Workshop Artists for October 2023 and October & March 2024, so send us names of artists you’d love to see brought to Houston.

    Sunday, April 11, is our general meeting, election of officers, a wonderful demo by nationally known artist Don Andrews, who was previously scheduled for the AME we had to cancel. He is the judge for the April Exhibit, and is presenting a 3-day workshop April 12-14.

    Right after the IWE last month, we received notice that Martin Butler had made his final decision to retire, after working from home throughout the last year due to Covid19. His 25 years of service to WAS-H were wonderful, with long term friendships, artistic camaraderie, and a warm welcoming face to our organization. No one knows our history as Martin does, nor does anyone know so many of our members as he does. He will personally be greatly missed, as will his contributions to the operation of our building, gallery exhibits, and education programming. We wish him well in his retirement and plan to celebrate his years of service at the AME Reception in October, when many of his WAS-H friends will be present. If you have photos of Martin throughout the years and/or wish to send him well wishes, please send these to secretary@watercolorhouston.org, or drop them off at the building. We will gather them together for his celebration.

    WAS-H member Karen Armstrong, our previous social media coordinator, is stepping in right now to help with his duties and is considering making it permanent. Karen is answering the phones and returning calls if you have left a message. She is one of the smiling faces you have seen at exhibits and events prior to this year of quarantine. She knows many of you and how WAS-H serves the members. I think it is a good fit for both Karen and WAS-H.

    The Board of Directors used this quarantine time to examine tuition charges across the country and online. We made some adjustments to our various tuition fees. We are still competitive with all other societies, art leagues, etc., and our online classes now offer additional benefits with access to recorded classes. The fee structure also respects our teachers, with equitable fees, regardless of class size.

    Our Membership Committee also adjusted membership fees to ensure that we are competitive with similar groups and still offering our members valuable benefits and quality classes & workshops, continuing with Paint-Ins, Plein Aire events, new mat-cutting access, and many more. Your membership fees also enable us to maintain our incredible gallery & classroom.

    Our Spring Classes, March through May, have something for you to take 4-6 days a week, every week. We are continuing to offer online classes as we begin fitting in in-person classes, as well. If you have requests for artists to bring to WASH for classes or workshops, please contact our education director, Diann Zimmerman, at education@watercolorhouston.org. Registration for Summer Classes will open mid-May. Be sure to check the website for announcements and be ready to register for new classes! Kathleen Church scheduled some wonderful Plein Aire events, which are on the website with the classes. Grab your bag and enjoy the beautiful sights and weather. We can hardly wait to see you!!

    Keep your brushes wet and paint so much that you run out of paint and paper!


    Beth Graham

    WAS-H President 2020-2021

  • March 15, 2021 4:55 PM | Ksenia Annis

    My letter is a bit delayed this month because I spent all last week delightfully painting two paintings a day, in-person, with renowned artist Keiko Tanabe. I hope you will forgive me for putting off my duties for brushes & paint.

    Sunday, March 7, was our general meeting, a wonderful demo by Keiko, who also juried the 45th International Watercolor Exhibit this year. We have the 16 finalists’ paintings hanging in the gallery and you can use sign-up on the website to schedule a viewing with a few friends or family. The rest of the beautiful 96 entries juried into the show are available for viewing on our website.

    The March general meeting was still a ZOOM meeting and an online show, but with vaccines being distributed we are confident that starting in September we will be seeing you in person and getting your beautiful artwork back on our gallery walls.

    Stay tuned for plans for a gallery Summer Retrospective, filled with art on loan (and for sale) by our many talented Signature, Signature Elite, and Rising Stars.

    Our Spring Classes, March through May, have something for you to take 4-6 days a week, every week. We are continuing to offer online classes as we begin fitting in the in-person classes, as well. Be sure to check the website for announcements and be ready to register for new classes!  Most of the 16 classes are online, but 5 are in-person, including the rescheduled visit by Don Andrews. He was our AME 2020 artist set for October, but even though we cancelled due to rising Covid cases, Don is returning for a shorter three-day workshop at the end of April. There are only a few openings left so come and paint in person with us!

    I would like to thank everyone who has shown their support of WAS-H with their donations to our annual fundraiser. This year, more than ever, every amount helps. If you haven’t contributed, please drop by the website and scroll down to the DONATE button at the bottom. Your help is greatly appreciated!

    We still have one spot open to step up and join the team- serve on our Board of Directors for 2021-2022. Current spot available is Technology Director. This position does not require lots of time, just familiarity with Office365 and simple basics. The other 16 spots are filled with wonderful people. Serving on the board is a great way to really get connected and deepen those friendships with “paint pals.” If you have questions, please contact either me or Karen Capper, our vice-president, at these email addresses:  president@watercolorhouston.org and vicepresident@watercolorhouston.org .

    We can hardly wait to see you!!  Until then, check our website for new plein air trips, gallery shows, and volunteer opportunities in the fall as a way to give back and to keep WAS-H vibrant.

    Keep your brushes wet and paint so much that you run out of paint and paper!


    Beth Graham, WAS-H President

  • March 07, 2021 12:16 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Tom Kraycirik, IWE Director and Haley Bowen Lehfeldt, IWE Chair

    What about next year? This was the obvious question for the IWE Committee in 2020 after slamming on the brakes of the 43rd IWE after only three but three highly successful days.

    The IWE Committee is really an amalgam of all volunteer committees. While I am IWE Director and Haley Bowen Lehfeldt is IWE Chair, we work closely with and seek and obtain assistance from every Board member, especially President Beth Graham on down, and the committees they oversee. All are really part of the process and contribute at a moment’s notice to fill a gap, come up with an idea, fill out a work detail or put in hours in systems that we all enjoy but often don’t readily appreciate.

    Of course, from their sheltering-in-place offices WAS-H’s tech savvy volunteers quickly responded by whipping up our first IWE Online Exhibition to project the works of the selected artists to the public. Thank you to Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Mike Doan, Karen Capper, Paula Fowler, Kathleen Church, Ksenia Annis, Louise Bateman, Jan McNeil, Patty Armstrong, and many others for your tremendous effort.

    So, how long could we be in grip of Covid-19 after all... a few weeks, a month or so? Two months later, we finally were able to get back into the gallery to box up paintings and ship them back to the artists.

    As in every former exhibition, the next one begins when the present one ends. So, it was with this new 44th International Watermedia Exhibition. Except this year presented a totally unique set of problems, requiring a rework of the whole system.

    There was never really a thought about mothballing the 44th IWE and wait until the all-clear signal. But yet, how do you plan, incur expenses, and expect people to commit time for an event which you may or may not be able to open. The concern was just what shape was it going to take?

    During the 2020 summer months the IWE committee pondered the question while the WAS-H board was dealing with problems every organization and business was dealing with to keep doors open and services provided.

    Other major watercolor societies were pondering the same question for their next event. Some were going to plow ahead with an actual exhibition while others were opting for the online route. Each had positive and negative elements.

    Personally, the major concern is assuring that awards were being made to verifiable paintings and not computer created or augmented images. This requires actual, hands-on inspection of the artwork, something not inherent with the online format.

    Of course, one of the major benefits of an online exhibition to the artist is the low cost to enter and compete. No shipping costs, which is a major expense. This cost can be justified if works are actually exposed to the buying public wherein the size and presence of the work can positively affect the sale. But can you expect the artist to incur the cost of shipping along with the risk that the event may cancelled at the last minute?

    After much thought, the committee came up with the concept of having an online exhibition of the 100 or so paintings that the judge selects but with an enhancement. The juror would select a group of paintings from the 100 which could potentially receive awards if they complied with prospectus requirements. Only this group would be asked to send their paintings to WAS-H for inspection and if possible, an actual exhibition of the winners would be held.

    The IWE Committee proposed the reworked prospectus to the board, the juror Keiko Tanabe was informed of the program and the board agreed to proceed. Dates were set and the prospectus approved.

    Then the regular work of putting on the IWE progressed. The IWE Chair Haley Bowen Lehfeldt contacted entry systems CaFE to go over and post the new prospectus. The application questionnaire was adjusted based on improvements requested from the previous year. Promotional blasts were devised and scheduled for email to more than 50,000 artists worldwide to introduce and then months later remind artists of the event. We paid the fee to CaFE and committed. The call for Entry to the 44th IWE began on October 7, 2020.

    Meanwhile the pandemic raged.

    Measuring the success of an exhibition entry is similar to baking a cake...it looks like a flop until the very last few moments.

    In years past, the opening last week of the application period typically shows only about a handful of applicants from a small hand at that. By end of week, hundreds of applications have poured in. This year was the same and was very successful as we gained 100 more applicants from the previous year.

    Through CaFE, invitations went out to those artists on January 9, 2021whose work was selected for the 44th Online IWE with requests to respond through CaFE to accept or decline the invitation. Also, invitations went out to those artists whose work the juror selected for the awards pool.

    This is one set of requests to which artists were quick to reply. Big Problem. CaFE’s computer system had a problem and basically froze.

    Calls started pouring in from artists that they could not respond. Of course, being a weekend and in Colorado, no help was immediately available. Haley sent out an email informing the artists of the computer system and to send an accept or decline notice to the WAS-H email. So now we at least had a backup verification.

    Their system was fixed by the following Tuesday and we sent out yet another email to artists to respond through the CaFE again, despite their response to WAS-H by email. The CaFE system provides a computerized breakdown of much information which would multiply our problems if it was not used for this final step.

    Most of the artists responded quickly but others were confused and phone calls had to be made.

    But nature had one more trick to play. That, of course, was the 126-year low temperature that that was broken just as many artists decided to ship their work. Locally, power failed, water services halted, roads became impassable and the city ground to a halt. The where and when of deliveries to WAS-H was in question as artists were fearful to ship their work and we were really had no way of knowing when to expect them.

    Weeks were spent at WAS-H, waiting to take in the select group when and if they came. Come they did, but only after volunteers wiled away their day in a sometimes chilled and waterless building.

    The sun did come out and the paintings came in. Now, on the eve of our juror reviewing the selected works we look forward to the opening ceremony and the presentation of awards. Viewers can look forward to a flawless presentation. But if there was a glitch, volunteers will have smoothed it over so you never know.

1601 West Alabama Houston TX 77006
Gallery: 713-942-9966
Questions? Email 

HOURS: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 3 pm

©Watercolor Art Society - Houston. All images are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software