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  • July 15, 2021 8:16 PM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    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.”

    Our monthly shows would not be possible without the work of the following valuable volunteers:

    Nancy McMillan - Gallery Co-Director

    Karen Stopniki - Website Director

    Cissy Giegerman - Website Administrator

    Sally Hoyt - 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.

  • July 15, 2021 8:14 PM | Ksenia Annis

    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.

  • July 15, 2021 8:08 PM | Ksenia Annis

    We were sorry to learn of the passing of Kirby Attwell, long time supporter of WAS-H, an accomplished artist and an award-winning watercolorist. Our condolences go out to Kirby's family and friends.

    View Obituary

  • July 07, 2021 10:24 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Beverly Alderholt, board member and exhibit coordinator

    Longtime WAS-H artist, Erik Sprohge believes that a painting is more that a visual representation of a subject. He wants to show emotion with color and present works demanding us to think and wonder.

    The retrospective of his work of 50 years now filling the WAS-H gallery is hung to showcase the themes he has explored during his long art-filled life. One wall presents Texana: landscapes, small towns and missions, and seascapes and beaches of our southern coast. Following that is a wild and whimsical group of human figures he likes to call “people in action, and paintings representing “magical Mexico.” As the viewer walks around our gallery she will notice that paintings become more and more abstract.. different in presentation but containing the same vivid colors and glimpses of human faces. This intentional order is loosely representative of the arc of Erik’s artistic journey.

    This is the first and only time you will have the opportunity to see Erik’s splendid collection in person so don’t miss it. He will give his Artist’s Talk to speak on his art and history on July 30 from 5:00 to 7:00 and the show comes down on August 6.

    Read more about Erik Sprohge here.

  • June 10, 2021 9:30 AM | Ksenia Annis

    by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director

    When you view the 58 entries in our June Show with the theme of Abstract, be prepared for a treat. Cross that threshold with an open and inquiring mind; enter the paintings and see where they take you. It’s an intensely personal process and it enriches your thoughts as you assign your own meanings to the pieces. I think you’ll be drawn back to the images over and over again.

    Our judge this month, Dana Frankfort, shared her thoughts about the winners during our Zoom Announcement of Awards. Seeing the paintings through her eyes was both enlightening and entertaining. Dana is a native Houstonian, and after spending time on the East Coast, returned to Houston to take a position as professor of painting at University of Houston. She earned a BA from Brandeis University and her MFA from Yale School of Art. She also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Dana was a Core Fellow at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. Her work often engages with the history of abstract art and features bright colors, gestural brushwork, and text. She has won numerous awards and exhibited extensively, domestically and internationally. Her curriculum vitae is testament to her talent and energy. She currently has 2 paintings hanging at the Inman Gallery on Main Street, where we can also look forward to seeing a solo exhibit of her work in March of 2022.

    Below, I have included her words about each of the winners.

    See the winners and all the participating paintings here.


    First Place: Donna Rybiski - Life’s a Balance

    “The small scale and humble palette of this painting belie the monumentality of the content. The imagery is on one hand very minimal — a handmade cup balancing on a stand — while still very rich in terms of reference and metaphor — life itself feels in the balance! The cast light and shadows create a mood of high drama and remind me a bit of Giorgio de Chirico. Overall, I love this piece for the abstract imagery and ideas brought to mind by such humble compositional elements.”

    Second Place: Sharyn Richey - Desert Blooms

    “The inventive range of marks, colors and textures combine in this painting to create a unique yet convincing composition. The saturated palette communicates the bright unfiltered sun, and the energy of the brush marks feel as alive as desert flora. Just like the fertile blooms of the actual desert landscape, this painting itself is a bursting fertile ground of inventiveness. “

    Third Place: Nan Wright - Wild Ride

    “As a viewer I am instantly swept up into the intense motion and energy of this painting. I love being pulled into the action, and the composition practically pushes off the picture plane into my space! Everything is painted with total conviction, including the palette, which convincingly suggests the back lit warmth of the late afternoon sun. It’s interesting to me that the motion is so fast that almost everything is blurred, and yet I still know exactly what Wild Ride is being referenced!”

    Honorable Mention: Larry Spitzberg – HARVEY

    “In this version of HARVEY, water is highly controlled to exploit the capabilities of paint — it pools, it drips, it sprays. The vertical forms in the foreground look like trees in a storm, or figures fleeing a flood. The specificity of the warm, golden light combines with bleeds of color to create a highly convincing, emotionally charged landscape.”

    Honorable Mention: Reva Power – Complicated

    “I love the energy and palimpsest of pattern, color and light and how it all combines in this painting to create interesting positive and negative spaces that flip back and forth with each other, creating a dynamic and ‘complicated' psychological portrait. As I move right across the composition the figure turns into the green landscape, suggesting not just a specific person but a specific place.”

    Honorable Mention: Maria Rodriguez-Alejo - Win(e) Me Over

    “Wine glasses might be the starting point for this painting, but this final image suggests a convincing composition of interlocking positive and negative shapes bathing in a warm golden light, resulting in an organic landscape reminiscent of Arthur Dove. “

    Honorable Mention: Andie Helen - 4th of July Meadow

    “This painting uses the language of the landscape to create glyph-like marks that function almost like vocabulary words: ocean waves, horizon lines and the summer sun. The repetition, while stopping short of a pattern, combines into a fresh approach to representing the landscape. “

    Honorable Mention: Helen Stanley - Dream a Little Dream of Me

    “This highly ambitious painting successfully combines multiple disparate objects into a single narrative, not an easy feat! I love getting lost in the many layers contained within this picture.”

    Honorable Mention: Annika Farmer - Summer Storm

    “Like shattered glass, this painting explodes into a rainbow prism of pure color, with paint overlapping at fracture point and bleeding into beautiful blues, purple and browns. “

    The July virtual show is the Student Show. If your have paintings that you did in a class or got input from an instructor, you may enter them in this show. We look forward to seeing what you have learned. You may enter your images starting on July 3.

  • June 10, 2021 9:29 AM | Ksenia Annis

    Second Place - Desert Blooms by Sharyn Richey

    Dana mentioned that I seemed to have known exactly when to stop. I wish I knew that every time! I did it rather quickly and so felt that, surely, I had not worked on it enough. And yet it felt right. So I had to keep hiding it away from myself to keep from adding "just another touch." And each time I took it out again I felt again that it was complete as is and finally called it done.

    For me it is filled with spiritual meaning. The "desert" is a kind of archetypal setting for any blank canvas or paper I face and painting is the way to "make the desert bloom." I do not feel that I am creating something but unveiling something. It is life itself that springs forth. One of my favorite lines from Scripture is Isaiah 35:1 "The desert will rejoice and flowers bloom in the wilderness. The desert will sing and shout for joy."

    Honorable Mention: Dream a Little Dream of Me by Helen Stanley

    This abstract-like or surreal painting almost describes my "stream of conscious" during the pandemic: no rhyme or reason, few consistent thoughts. I applied gesso, to an old painting, using a palette knife to make sure lots of the under-color showed through. The shapes that emerged guided my thought process and with charcoal I drew objects that appealed to me at the time. I painted the "abstract landscape" with watercolor and gouache and applied my own hand-painted papers to add more texture and interest.

    Honorable Mention: HARVEY by Larry Spitzberg

    HARVEY is really two paintings. I first made an abstract cityscape which seemed muted and boring so i put it away. A few weeks later I pulled it out and wrote HARVEY with the dark foreboding clouds and the drip of the watercolor paint as the heavy rain. That seemed to give the painting pizzazz and a heart and soul that I wanted.

    Honorable Mention: 4th of July Meadow by Andie Helen

    4th of July Meadow was a new way of painting for me. In a class given by Susan Giannantonio, she had introduced the term “mark making.” This was a new way of thinking about how to deal with the surface of a painting.

    Susan always stresses being adventurous in our work and trying new things. Fascinated with the new term “mark making,” the effort to create an old, fond memory began. I played John Philip Sousa’s music and tried to experiment with abstract placement of marks to recreate my memory of a warm and sunny meadow where a 4th of July picnic took place long ago.

    May everyone have a wonderful 4th of July this year!!

    Honorable Mention: Complicated by Reva Power

    What a privilege to have my painting, “Complicated” selected for honorable mention. When creating my watercolor art, I often begin with a medium to light under painting in a particular color pallet. I frequently use “lacy paper” in compositions, essentially stenciling it on a piece of watercolor paper. That sheet then begins a journey to becoming a possible candidate as an underpainting for a given image. Like many I was taught to make a simple line drawing of my motif prior to drawing it on the watercolor paper. It helps you to see possible weaknesses. Looking at my line drawing of the guitar players face, I thought back to the time in Curacao where I talked with this street musician, and he let me snap his picture. I felt that underpainting created by the stenciled effect of painting of the lacy paper would support the vibrancy needed to hear the music. It was a fun painting to create.

  • May 18, 2021 2:38 PM | Ksenia Annis

    Duncan Simmons’ Passing

    We regret to inform our WAS-H members that long time WAS-H elite signature member W Duncan Simmons passed away May 8, 2021 at the age of 85. Duncan was a talented artist and won many awards. Duncan taught classes at WAS-H as well as collaborated on multiple innovative paintings with fellow WAS-H member Keiko Yasuoka.

    The family asks that remembrances in Duncan’s memory be sent to the Watercolor Art Society - Houston.

  • May 15, 2021 9:03 PM | Ksenia Annis

    We are happy to share that Jan Shrader just received signature member status with Texas Watercolor Society. Congratulations, Jan!

    More info about this organization - https://texaswatercolorsociety.org/ 


    Got any good news to share? Email us at washrag@watercolorhouston.org

  • May 15, 2021 8:54 PM | Ksenia Annis

    WAS-H Paint-Ins resumed May 8 via Zoom with artist Susan Giannantonio.  It was a fun session with lots of learning!

    On our summer schedule - Ksenia Annis will talk about Impressionist style flowers painted with gouache on June 12. Caroline Graham will lead August 14th session and discuss "track of vision" in art. To join us, register here

  • 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.

1601 West Alabama Houston TX 77006
Gallery: 713-942-9966
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HOURS: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 3 pm

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