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Theme: From My Studio
by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
The month is August and we’re in Houston, so the heat and humidity keep us inside and never far from the hum of our air conditioners. The year is 2020 and images of the impact of the coronavirus and civil unrest swirl in our heads. But when we walk into our studios and let our imaginations and creativity free, what emerges are images of birds of so much color that they flow across the page, vast western canyons filled with light and shadow and fish drifting in the shallow waters of the Gulf. We have no masks, no sweat, no boundaries.
The WAS-H August 2020 virtual show, with the theme of From My Studio, displays 89 images of paintings done by WAS-H members who followed that path to their studios. They invite us to explore the beauty of the world and of their creativity. With the help of our intrepid group of volunteers, we are able to bring this show to you to view and to share with friends from the safety of your own homes
Laurie Humble was our talented and generous judge. She is known for her realistic works in watercolor that feature highlighting and unusual angles, but she is also an oil painter and a sculptor and even experiments with oil finger painting. Her work has appeared on the cover and been the subject of feature articles in American Artist Magazine and Watercolor Artist and have been included in Southwest Art, International Artist, the book Splash 10, and many others. She has written a wonderful instructional book, Watercolor Depth and Realism. Laurie’s works are in private and permanent collections across the country and have garnered awards in numerous National and International Exhibitions
I know you’ll enjoy what Laurie shared with me about each of the paintings that she picked.
First Place - Debbie Ebeling - Spilling Parrot Colors
“I was drawn to this piece right away. It has a clear focal point and the composition leads the viewer’s eye through the whole piece and back to the focal point. It is well-executed and the repetition of colors helps to lead the eye. I loved the interplay between realism and abstraction, simply beautiful!”
Second Place - Patrick Faile - Last Light
“This piece is stunning and has a brilliantly illustrative style. I was drawn to the use of color and contrast used to create a focal point as well as secondary areas of interest, adding to the overall success of the composition. I also loved the soft shadows. I would have liked to see this in person! I might have liked to see just a bit stronger contrast.”
Third Place - Les McDonald, Jr. - Redtail
“I love the unique vantage point here. This piece has a strong, well placed focal point and the perspective used adds depth and pulls the viewer in. The eye is lead to the surface and then back to the tail. Expertly executed.”
Honorable Mention - Hiep Nguyen - Late Blooming On The Other Side
“I loved the simplicity of the composition. The lightest lights and darkest darks meet to create a very strong focal point.”
Honorable Mention - Maria Rodriguez-Alejo - Thundery
“This is a lovely abstract. Great use of contrasting color, strong focal point and a feeling of movement within the composition.”
Honorable Mention - Larry Spitzberg - Wash Day
“Use of bold color and loose painting style add excitement to the piece. Edges become less defined in the distance creating a sense of depth. I loved the style and the strong center of interest here.”
Honorable Mention - Chaitanya Alli - Let's Take a Ride
“Great composition. I loved the use of color within the shadows. I believe it would be even stronger if the back wheel had softer edges and was a bit muted in color.”
Honorable Mention - Trish Poupard - Huntington Cactus
“I really enjoyed the excellent craftsmanship and control of edges here. It does have a strong focal point and secondary areas of interest. I think exaggerating the color a bit would make it even more dynamic.”
Special thanks to our Virtual Show Team for helping to keep WAS-H viable during this difficult time: Karen Stopniki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geiggerman, Martin Butler and our president, Beth Graham.
I experimented with color runs/drips on my parrot painting. It was a bit risky because I could ruin the entire thing. However, I think it added the "pop" I was looking for. Watercolor is such a wonderful medium. It really lends itself to experimentation, which is usually a good thing!
Over the course of my life I have traveled to and visited many National Parks in the U.S. and Canada. They have been a source of constant artistic inspiration for most of my life. My painting, Last Light, is but one of many I have painted in recent years with the intent of producing a comprehensive body of work not only to promote my worth as an artist, but also share the National Park message of conservation and preservation of the land and life within the parks. I’ve put together a solo exhibition of these works and had two exhibitions canceled this year due to the pandemic, but I remain confident that the work will be shown and that the National Park message will be shared. I hope you will join me in supporting our National Park Service. The parks are unique and irreplaceable.
Third Place - Les McDonald, Jr. – Redtail
As an ardent fisherman, I was compelled by the challenge to paint this underwater scene. Red Tail depicts the prized red fish in its natural habitat. Shallow bays are the redfish primary habitat.
If I was smarter and cuter, I would have titled my painting “WAS-H Day”. I saw this scene in France where a warm day dried everything quickly. I usually don’t paint flat buildings, so I added plenty of interesting color.
Honorable Mention - Maria Rodriguez-Alejo - Thundery
I recently spent several weeks in west Texas country. During my stay I experienced hot days and beautiful sunsets, and occasionally, sunset came with strong thunderstorms. The tremendous force and beauty of the thunderstorms inspired me to do this painting.
For this piece, I used pure bright colors and layering to create areas of depth. To add contrast, I applied several layers of opaque light colors to get the greys, whites and muted colors around the vivid colors. The lines were done using Tar Gel adding movement and a raised texture to the piece.
Thundery represents the happiness and beauty that we can find even under some of the stormiest situations in life.
Our August Exhibit, the third held online, was a great success thanks to the artists who entered 89 paintings, and to the gallery team led by Paula Fowler. Helping her were Karen Stopnicki, Website Director, Nancy McMillan, Gallery Chair,Cissy Geigerman, Sally Hoyt, and Martin Butler, Administrative Assistant at WAS-H. I encourage you to browse through the beautiful work. Go to our website, Online Gallery, and select the show you want to view. Clicking on photos of the artwork enlarges them.
We will continue to sell paintings from the show and we hope to increase our sales as buyers discover us online. Sold paintings are to be matted, backed, and wrapped in a cover, either paper or plastic. Art stores sell these in packages to make it easy. We continue to practice social distancing, so the sales occur online, the artist drops the painting off by appointment at WAS-H, and the buyer picks it up by appointment.
The Annual Members Exhibit (AME) in October will probably also be held solely online. Everchanging public health conditions will determine our final decision about hanging artwork in the physical gallery. Other state organizations that we contacted are all planning for online shows for both annual member shows and international shows.
To enter an online exhibit, the artist must be able to submit a quality photograph of their painting(s). In July WAS-H offered a class on how to do this with a smartphone and the class will be offered again in September. Check the virtual education offerings for details.
Our October AME workshop artist, Don Andrews, is willing to wait to see what early September brings before we make any decisions about his week-long workshop with us. We will hold it upstairs for a small class (11), offer it online, offer a combination of the two, or cancel.
Our fall workshop offerings organized by Nicole Hansen, Education Director,, will begin registration August 5. Our new broadcast equipment is installed but has a couple of bugs to be worked out which will delay the start of classes broadcast from the WAS-H classroom instead of individual teachers’ studios. When those are ready, we will send out an e-blast notifying everyone!
Be sure to register for the September General Meeting on September 6. Members can register for it just like you do for a class. There is no fee for Gold Members, but all others will be able to pay the usual small fee for the demo and will be entered in our door prize drawings for $25 gift certificates to Art on Almeda, whose new building will be open by then. This year WAS-H is purchasing gift certificates as a thank you to Vicki Trammel for her years of generous support of WAS-H including monthly door prize gift bags.
As always, please feel free to communicate your ideas, suggestions, and even critiques. We implement as many as possible! I hope and pray for a quick return to our ability to gather together, visit, eat, drink, and paint. In the meantime…
Stay well, stay safe, and keep painting!
by Laura McMahon, WAS-H Treasurer and Past President
We were fortunate to have had good fiscal management over the years. It positioned us well as we headed into the last quarter of our fiscal year by canceling all of our in-person classes and refunding class registration fees. The WAS-H Board worked quickly and tirelessly to get virtual classes going in April and an online exhibit in early May. This quick action helped to offset the loss of income from the in-person classes. We were having a good year financially until the stay-at-home orders were put in place mid-March, and moving to virtual classes and online exhibits is helping us pay the bills and our employees. We again received an anonymous donation of $10,000 and are extremely grateful to the donor who wishes to remain anonymous for these grants the past four years. In addition, the Odette Rubin Trust gave us an opportunity in the spring of 2019 to apply for a grant, and in July 2019 donated $5,000 toward our Audio Visual and Technology Improvement Project. Our Income was down from last year due to: an additional major workshop in January of 2019 which we did not have in 2020; a slight decline in memberships; fewer entries in our International Water Media Exhibition; a decline in class registration for classes held before March; and cancellation of in-person classes March through May. Our expenses were higher due to: the upgrade of our WiFi and Audio Visual systems; electrical work that was required to bring the building up to code; installation of new carpet and tile on the second floor; and other building maintenance costs. In addition, last year registration for the summer classes began in early May, so our operating account had cash that would be paid out to teachers over the summer months. Our summer class registration for 2020 did not begin until early June. As a result of the foregoing, for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2020, we had a Net Loss of $12,261.69. Notwithstanding the net loss, at May 31, 2020 the cash in our operating account was $149,998.48, down just slightly from $152,366 at May 31, 2019. The total amount in all of WAS-H Bank Accounts at May 31, 2020 was $324,537.33, down slightly from $327,837 at May 31, 2019. We continue to maintain this cash position as a reserve for building and equipment maintenance, as well as unexpected expenses.
WAS-H Bank Account Balances at May 31, 2020:
Capital Reserve $88,147.84
Odette Rubin IWE Award $11,012.56
WAS-H is so fortunate to have a long list of amazingly talented teachers who so generously and energetically share their knowledge with us on a regular basis. It’s a pleasure to be able to pay tribute to them at this time and to give their students an opportunity to display works created under their tutelage. Since work done with a teacher is not allowed in our other shows, this gives our members who are not yet working independently the experience of having their work displayed, critiqued and, perhaps, being awarded a prize.
This year’s show was certainly a welcome distraction as we began our fifth month of COVID-19 restrictions that kept our brick and mortar gallery closed. What better way to energize us than by working with our talented membership and realizing that our creative juices keep flowing despite adversity.
The process of presenting a virtual show has been a challenge that a group of our multi-talented volunteers has met with tenacity, enthusiasm, humor, patience. There’s been a lot of learning-as-you-go! Special thanks go to Karen Stopnicki, our Website Director, Sally Holt, Volunteer Director, Cissy Geigerman, volunteer extraordinaire, Nancy McMillian, Gallery co-Director, and, of course, Beth Graham, our President who’s vision and energy keep us going.
We were so happy to welcome our talented member, Tamara D. Kontrimas, as judge this month. Tamara’ love for art began as a child and was found again in 1995 after she had pursued a successful law career and raised her children. Her work uses strong design, radiant washes and precise attention to detail to create bold observational paintings. Houston artist and teacher, Arthur Turner, described her works as being “composed and executed like the well-chosen and meaningful lines in a memorable written work—a great novel or insightful poem.” Tamara has exhibited her works in solo and group national and international exhibits including the Transparent Watercolor Society of America’s Annual Exhibit, the National Weather Center Biennial, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and WAS-H International Show. Her works are in several private collections in the U.S. and Canada. She currently works out of her studios in Sugar Land, Texas and Nova Scotia, Canada.
Tamara’s words about the winners are so perfect that I would like to share them with you here as she wrote them.
FIRST PLACE: LUIZA GRANDCHAMP – “NICLOLE’S PEONIES”
“Comments: I feel this piece has taken a piece of paper and transformed it into the very thing that is depicted creating a painting that feels almost sculptural. The artist has combined strong observational ability with beautiful command of the medium. The flutiness of the edges, texture of the petals, movement between and within shapes are combined beautifully with both restraint and specificity in a way that makes one truly experience the lushness of peonies.”
SECOND PLACE: BILL CURTIS – “TEMPLE MOUNT STEPS”
“Comments: What I love about this piece is that it shows us the extraordinary in the ordinary. The piece is neither fussy nor posed. The artist has used a scene most viewers would not necessarily notice and taken us by the hand and said, “Now hold on a minute. Look closer.” The play of light and texture draw us in. Simple things like the light on the lower steps, the wedge of dark in the middle area and the texture of the wall become exceptional. Suddenly the viewer feels he is on an exotic vacation feeling the sun on his skin.”
THIRD PLACE: ZAHID SHAIKH - “TRIBAL CHIEFTAIN”
“Comments: I was drawn to the intensity of the character. It’s as though you’ve just challenged the Chieftain and found yourself slayed by his gaze. The strong light source from the left, the contrast between the white of the facial hair and the skin tones create strong drama and make the piece really shine. The eyes portray both ferocity and wisdom. The brushstrokes are bold and confident. The artist has surrounded his exceptional portrait with a background that enhances the figure with areas of both restraint and definition.”
HONORABLE MENTION: KAE KINLEY - “ON THE ISLE OF SKYE”
“Comments: I was attracted to the freshness and vitality of the piece. The artist’s brushstrokes are very confident and loose while maintaining intentionality. The eye travels easily and naturally through the piece with the entry point of the large figure in the lower left and the two smaller figures in the upper right. The strong values and details in the foreground are balanced well with the less specific but very nicely done figures in the distance. I love the glow the yellow glow and the authenticity of the palette. Overall the piece gives me a feeling that the artist is painting a place with which she is familiar. I was also impressed by the size of the piece and I feel it is expressive of the animals it portrays.”
HONORABLE MENTION: LAURA MCMAHON – “ROSE OF SHARON”
“Comments: This is a nice bold composition with impactful depth and value. The very delicately colored flowers are contrasted with the dark background which darkens in value as it moves to the upper right. There are nice value exchanges between the flowers denoting petals that lie either under or over one another. The light is handled beautifully on each petal particularly where the white of the paper is allowed to shine through.”
Congratulations to all of our winners!
The August and September prospectuses are posted. Check them out here and make plans to enter a show soon. It’s a great way to support our amazing organization and to stay connected. Hope we are able to meet in person again soon!
Luiza Grandchamp won the FIRST PLACE award for painting “NICOLE’S PEONIES”; she wrote for us:
When my daughter Nicole found out I was painting flowers in my WAS-H Watercolor Class, she sent me several photos of her the beautiful peonies of her garden. Those photos inspired me to create the composition for my painting. During class, Susan Giannatonio provided me with great insight and knowledge of watercolor flowers. Her paintings are impressive and very inspiring. After finishing my watercolor of peonies, Susan encouraged me to enter it into the July student show and I did! I am very grateful for that suggestion and, of course, for her classes this summer. Getting this award from WAS-H was so such an honor and quite unexpected. Winning first place with my very first watercolor was just magical!
Bill Curtis was awarded the SECOND PLACE for “TEMPLE MOUNT STEPS”, here is what he wrote:
The Temple Mount painting was done at the suggestion of my watercolor instructor, Artist Mark Stewart. Mark’s painting appears very realistic but is actually made of a myriad of more abstract splotches, splashes and techniques specific to the gesture he is trying to achieve. Mark’s work, in my opinion, is heavily influenced, visually and compositionally, by the paintings of Andrew Wyeth.
The temple Mount image is a photograph Mark took while vacationing in Jerusalem. The decision to paint this photo came about the time of the initial stay-at-home-COVID experience in Houston. As such, Mark and I determined to do a virtual painting session. He and I would talk on the phone about the image, then hang up and paint to the point we discussed. We then snapped photos with our cameras and texted them back and forth for discussion, followed by more discussion, painting and repeat. The interesting thing was determining the wash colors to achieve the painting as these were verbal instructions to me from Mark, and who knew if my mixing efforts were similar to his.
The under washes were with Raw Siena, followed by washes utilizing Burnt Umber, Sepia and French Ultramarine Blue to achieve the various shades of the rocks and shadows.
The whole painting was done in the above method and was completed at a choreographed distance.
Zahid Shaikh, who was awarded the THIRD PLACE for “TRIBAL CHIEFTAIN” wrote:
I was delighted to win third place among all the students in the July show! A special thanks and much gratitude to Tamara for her encouraging words. Here are a few words regarding my painting of the Tribal Chieftain.
The focus of this portrait was to convey a sense of authority and wisdom in the tribal leader's demeanor. It's all in the eyes, something I learned from master portrait artist and instructor Mohammed Bhatti. Under Carla Gauthier's tutelage I also learned to move out of my comfort zone and apply bold, loose strokes, without going into excruciating detail. She also guided me in the use of basic design principles, which I applied to the face, and used connecting values in the background.
Don't miss our August online art show! Submissions open July 27th and close July 29th. You can find all the info on Monthly Gallery Exhibit page here. We also have detailed instructions for preparing your digital entry and volunteers will be available at the help desk if you have any questions. Share your work with WAS-H community and win prizes!
You can also get a head start on your submission for the September show. The prospectus is posted as well and the theme is general.
Click here to see the August 2020 show prospectus
Click here to see the September 2020 show prospectus
Please take a minute to fill out our Members Survey! It will help us better meet your needs in 2020 during these challenging times. You can do it on computer or on a mobile device.
CLICK HERE to Take Survey
We are surrounded by images that would make beautiful paintings:
However, in ALL of these cases, “All rights are reserved.” The publisher or artist or photographer does NOT grant permission for someone to use their image to create a painting and enter it in a show. One can look at these images to see, for example, exactly how a porcupine’s spines spread out, or a close up of dragonfly wings veining, but you can’t copy the photograph.
We all have access to many books and DVDs and love practicing our painting skills and seeing if we can achieve the same look as the artist. Painters have copied the masters for centuries, and they will continue to do that to continue to improve as painters. But those paintings are for personal growth, not for shows.
At WAS-H, we bend those guidelines very slightly to allow students to enter our annual Student Exhibit, with paintings done from instructor images and/or compositions. The instructor uses their personal photographs and gives permission for the students to use them. This is the only exception to the Reference Image criteria. Instructors on videos do not grant this permission.
by Beth Graham, WAS-H President
Our June Exhibit, the first held online, was a great success thanks to all the artists who entered 147 paintings, and to the gallery team led by Paula Fowler. Helping her were Karen Stopnicki, website director, Nancy McMillan, gallery chair, Cissy Geigerman, Sally Hoyt, and Martin Butler. We have already sold 4 paintings from the show and hope to continue this trend as buyers discover us online. We continue to practice social distancing, so the sales occur online, the artist drops the painting off by appointment at WAS-H, and the buyer later picks it up by appointment. All sales occur online. If you haven’t yet viewed the exhibit, I encourage you to browse through the beautiful work.
The July Student Exhibit will also be held solely online. Be sure to carefully read the prospectus to see who is eligible to enter this show. WAS-H is the only watercolor society that holds a student show to encourage new painters to share their work and experience the gallery exhibit experience. All WAS-H teachers are asked to submit one painting (no fee). It can be one that is currently for sale, or one no longer available for sale. Show us your favorites!
Our early summer workshop offerings organized by Nicole Hansen, education director, are by instructors who have the technology to teach online from their home studio: Ksenia Annis, Ed Pettit, Susan Giannantonio, and Ellen Orseck. Coming soon from their home studios are classes with Peihong Endris and Laura Spector.
Mid-July we will have our newest hardware installed that will enable us to bring the rest of our teachers (and new ones, too) to the building to offer online classes. Carla Gauthier will be our first artist to try out the new setup and she is planning several classes. Once that is working, we expand our offerings. You will be able to register for these as usual, and view at home through Zoom and our Youtube channel.
Our October AME workshop artist, Don Andrews, is a fellow Texan from Bastrop and is willing to wait to see what the end of September brings before we make any decisions about his week-long workshop with us: hold it upstairs, offer it online, a combination of the two, postpone, or cancel.
As the number of Covid cases began to decline at the end of May, I wondered if we had been wasting our time exerting so much effort toward our online presence, but the sudden and rapid escalation of cases have reminded me that we may need this approach into the fall & possibly winter.
These numbers break my heart as I worry about our friends and family and fellow Americans that are facing increased chances of illness and unemployment. But for selfish reasons, I am really missing the time spent with fellow painters in classes, monthly meetings, demos, model lab, open studio, art for seniors, hanging artwork and enjoying receptions. I have made so many wonderful friends in our artist community and truly miss the time spent with others who love art! One silver lining is that our online offerings allow members who are far away or who cannot travel to our building to join us in many ways previously unavailable. We will keep this as a part of our way to doing business. I am thankful for that. I hope and pray for a quick return to our ability to gather together, visit, eat, drink, and paint. In the meantime…
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