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by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
February in Houston is a time for the first glimpses of spring and its signs of nature’s renewal, a perfect metaphor for better times ahead as we begin to make progress in our fight with the Corona Virus. And as the valentine vendors flood the markets, we think of things dear to our hearts. So, with optimism and love, our members presented us with 39 wonderful works to celebrate this month’s show Dear to Our Hearts. See the winners and all the participating paintings here.
WAS-H signature artist and past-president, Linda Vanek, graciously accepted the challenge of judging this month. Linda is a licensed interior designer and watercolor instructor and her works have been purchased by numerous corporations and private collectors around the country. She has also received awards in several international shows. Linda was able to employ her knowledge and experience as she critiqued the entries and gifted us with comments that are educational and invite us to view the works with new eyes. I’m so pleased to be able to share with you her words about our winners:
First Place: Jan Shrader – Lauralie
“A good composition and the wonderful use of values, from lights to darks, made the painting Lauralie stand out from the beginning. It evoked an emotional feeling of meeting with a dear friend. Her smile and the strong warmth of the bright sun seem to reinforce the warmth between friends. The blue blouse subtle color change added interest and was softly repeated as highlights in the hair, indicating the soft texture without painting too much detail. The use of color in the face and in the blue blouse worked beautifully together as a warm and cool contrast.”
Second Place: Dr. Mohammad Ali Bhatti – Golimaar
“This painting appears to be about a special place to the artist. In looking more closely, you are drawn from the architecture of the place back into the foreground. With subtle movement of light and color, you began to see and enjoy more of the daily life of the people. “
Third Place: Kathleen Stafford - Fetching III
“With just the right amount of detail, the artist draws us into the journey of these 2 women. Each has an individual sense of personality and movement in their walk, reinforced by the sway of the dresses and the lovely designs and colors of the fabric. The different poses create interest, while providing interesting negative shapes within the painting.”
Honorable Mention: Chaitanya Alli - Little Treasure
“The artist has certainly captured the delight and intense interest of the little boy first and then moves the focus to his special toy using a little less detail and different color. The detail and warm color draw us to the boy’s face, and the placement of his hand adds interest to the composition. There is a nice repetition of warm and cool colors with brighter color to draw you to the focal point and the softer less intense color for the supporting background areas.”
Honorable Mention: Karen Lindeman - Brooke’s Garden
“Brooke’s Garden first captures your attention with the color and softness you associate with lovely delicate flowers. The use of complementary colors together gives richness, while the beautiful neutrals add softness. I enjoyed the wonderful placement of hard and soft edges, graceful line quality, and the interesting movement of whites within this beautiful garden painting. It has a beautiful balance between recognizable subject matter and an abstract quality in expression of the flowers.”
Honorable Mention: Reva Power - A Blue Promise
“The first thing that captures your attention is the lovely textural quality of the bluebonnets in the foreground and the movement of white with hints of complementary color. A variety of height of the bluebonnets, as well as more intense darker color in the foreground, gives an interesting shape to separate the foreground from the background. I enjoy the subtle use of texture and color movement to guide us to the background for a rich enjoyment of sun and sky in complementary tones.”
To learn more about our winning artists and their works, please read Winners’ Words here.
I also want to once again thank our online show team that spend many hours preparing the show: Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigerman, Martin Butler, Nancy McMillian and Kathleen Church.
SECOND PLACE: Golimaar by Mohammad Ali Bhatti
Painting is my passion and I enjoy working with diverse mediums, styles and subjects. Among all watercolor medium is dear to me for many reasons, such as its magical technique, boldness, minimalism and interplay of tone values. I paint landscapes, cityscapes, flowers. However, portrait painting is my childhood love. I have been painting watercolor paintings since my school days, and painting portraits to keeping my rhythm going beside my oil and acrylic paintings. I keep searching for faces and cityscapes which are expressive and inspiring. When found, I photograph them in a very natural setting and crop them as suited to my compositions.
This painting Golimaar is from my latest cityscape series. The view is typical of Karachi (Pakistan) streets. Golimaar is an old neighborhood from my childhood memories. I photographed it when I was visiting Karachi a couple of years ago. I paint with spontaneity and boldness, allow hues to blend and bleed naturally. I pay attention to subtle values and contrasts as suited to my composition with minimum details; and follow the basic principle of watercolor medium.
THIRD PLACE: Fetching III by Kathleen Stafford
After spending around 30 years living in various regions of Africa, I found myself at the edge of the Sahara Desert in Niamey, Niger. It was hot. The temperature was often over 110 degrees. Due to global warming, the desert was encroaching more and more on the pastoral life along the river Niger. The Wodaabe people were being forced to come live in the city since the Sahel where they previously had herded cattle was disappearing. Their traditions came with them – the brightly colored many-patterned clothes they preferred, the way the women carried water from a well or the river then in calabashes and today, sometimes buckets balanced on their heads. Seeing them walk long distances, even in that heat, I could only admire their strength, their grace and their resilience.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brooke’s Garden by Karen Lindeman
Brooke's Garden was created from a painting session with my granddaughter that started last fall. I often let her come into the studio and play with a set of nontoxic watercolor paints I used in about the 3rd grade. A couple of her abstracts have been so good I've sent them home with her mom to frame when she gets a little older. While she is painting away, I usually start one of my own next to hers (otherwise I start painting on hers before I know it!). I use mine to demonstrate what I want her to try. Ironically, while I've been teaching her to be creative - use spatters, be free with big drops of color, and a spray bottle, I found out that her preschool teacher has been making them color in the lines lately…ooops. Brooke was using a lot of sienna and black, and I suggested we try some pretty colors for spring, so she started putting in some very bright color every once in a while, and I started using the same bright colors on my own paper.
I sent her home with her painting and set mine aside. When I got back from Christmas break, I started on a much-needed clean out of the studio, and true to form, got sidetracked when I noticed that this particular work had some good shapes in it already, and the lines were interesting. So, instead of cleaning, I ended up spending the afternoon painting negative shapes, toning down the bright colors with complements leaning to greys, adding linework, and "creating" flowers out of the shapes I saw. I was a little surprised and really pleased when I stopped. The saturation of color was beautiful, and it really felt like a spring garden. More abstract than I usually do, but overall, really nice with a feeling of spring, breezes, life, and an honesty to it that is refreshing. I would like to paint a few more works to complement this painting. The trick is can I get that saturation and lightness - and all those greys - again????
Brooke tries to get out every good brush I have, besides the ones I give her, and rather than stop her, to teach her to use those carefully, I let her do some calligraphy on this painting. Notice the crayon dots and some of the black lines in lunar black. That is actually still in this work. The rest of the line work is done with #2 graphite, lunar black watercolor, colored pencil and watercolor pencil added after the painting was about 85% complete last week. This is typical of the way I work on any painting. I start with a horizon line, an idea and color, and I do almost all of the drawing at the END of the painting. I realize this is sort of backwards to the way most people work, but it explains why there are no pre-drawings of any of my paintings and often very little underdrawing. It is just what works for me.
by Laurie Hammons
People often comment on the pluses and minuses of our life on Zoom. Well, I have found a benefit to Zoom that I may not be willing to give up: Taking collage classes on Zoom.
Let me explain. In the “before times,” when I have taken in-person classes in collage, I had to make some hard decisions about what I would be able to bring with me to class: my collection of magazine clippings? my box of colored paper? Texture items (cardboard, fabric, tissue, wire, string)? Printed items (old letters, books, newspapers, tickets, stamps, wrapping paper, postcards, paint chips)? Other important items: adhesives, substrates, brushes, cutting tools, stencils, paints of all types (watercolor, acrylic, gouache), pencils, crayons, markers, nature objects (leaves, grasses), anything else I may have forgotten? Whew!
But I’m here to say, I LOVE taking a collage class by zoom. No hard decisions! All your stuff is right there when the teacher gives you a great example of something you can try. No more thinking disappointedly, “But I have that at home!” You ARE at home! You can just run out to the garage and find that piece of corrugated cardboard, string, or wire. You can let your imagination run wild!
And, you are in luck! We have an acrylic design and collage class starting on Thursday afternoon with our talented and experienced collage artist, Susan Giannantonio. To sign up, click on this link: https://watercolorhouston.org/event-4065658
Come join the fun!
Sunday, February 7, is our next general meeting, artist demonstration, and awards for the second WAS-H exhibit of this calendar year. The theme is Dear to Our Hearts and the juror is Linda Vanek and Carol Rensink will be our demo artist. It will still be a ZOOM meeting and an online show, but with vaccines being distributed, we are ever closer to seeing you in person and getting your beautiful artwork back on our gallery walls. Don’t forget to register for the meeting & demo to be eligible for the door prizes in the form of gift certificates from Art Supply on Almeda, owned by long-time WAS-H supporter, Vicky Trammel. Be sure to stop by there this month for their big sale: brushes 50% off and everything else on sale 40% or more off.
February 15 registration opens for our Spring Classes, March through May. Be sure to check the website for announcements and be ready to register for new classes! We are continuing to offer online classes as we begin fitting in in-person classes, as well. My hope is that this forced time apart will help us to really appreciate how special it is to gather together again. How we will celebrate!
Also, in February WAS-H is hosting a Plein Aire painting event in Hermann Park. Check the website for details.
Last month we hosted a Virtual Happy Hour for new members in 2020 and got to know some of the great people who will be showing up in classes and exhibits. It was lovely getting to chat with them.
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 a couple of spots open to step up and join the team- serve on our Board of Directors for 2021-2022. Current spots available, at print time, are Administrative Resources (by-laws, policy & procedures), Technology Director, and Outreach. The other 15 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: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Make plans next month to venture out to view the winners of the March International Watercolor Exhibit. The gallery will be open for limited hours to see the paintings of the winners. Check the website for dates and times. We will also post on the website a catalog of all paintings juried into the show. The winners will be announced at next month’s General Meeting on March 7, and the demo artist will be the renowned artist, Keiko Tanabe. Spots will go fast, so register early!
We can hardly wait for everyone’s return!! Until then, check our website for virtual volunteer opportunities, as well as serving on the board, as a way to give back and to keep WAS-H vibrant.
Stay safe and keep painting!
Beth Graham, WAS-H President
A brief introduction of Kathleen Cooper, who joins WAS-H board of directors as treasurer:
I was born and lived in Schenectady, NY until I was 14. At that point my family moved to Daytona Beach, Florida where my father (an engineer with GE) had been transferred to work on a contract with NASA. I attended the University of Florida for college and Law School. Upon graduation I packed a U Haul and moved to Houston, Texas (my family having since moved back to the cold North). At the time Houston was Boom Town USA, and I figured it would be an adventure. I had no job, no contacts and very little money. Only someone young would do something like that!
After some job hopping, I eventually landed at Marathon Oil Company where I worked for 22 years as Senior Tax Counsel, International. At the end of 2009 I retired for the first time. I joined WASH during my retirement hiatus. I had painted in oil and acrylics decades earlier, but I liked the idea of the portability and “life” of watercolor and the fact that you don’t need canvasses - just paper.
in July, 2012 I took a job with the IRS as a Revenue Agent examining the foreign transactions of large corporations. I retired for the second (and, I hope final) time in July 2019.
Alas, my retirement plans have been stymied by Covid 19, but hopefully we will soon be able to paint together once again!
by Jan McNeill
A brave 15 members turned up at the Saturday January 16, 2021 Parking Lot event at WAS-H. Despite temperatures starting in the mid 40’s and climbing to the high 50s, attendees were well prepared with their winter wear and face masks. Everyone enjoyed the sunny morning and a chance to safely reconnect with painting friends as well as to make new acquaintances. Hope to see you at future events!
We at WAS-H are welcoming 2021 with renewed hope and optimism that we will in a very short time be able to enjoy our wonderful building for classes and shows in the gallery. In the meantime, our virtual shows have been our lifeline, keeping us connected and providing a platform to share our work. Fifty-four painting were entered into our January 2021 online show, and we were once again amazed at how hugely talented our membership is.
The difficult task of choosing the winners was accepted by Houston artist and HBU professor, Michael Roque Collins. Michael received a BFA at University of Houston and an MFA at Southern Methodist University and for many years, in addition to being a producing artist, he served as artist, educator and advisor at various Texas institutions, guiding university graduate and undergraduate art programs. He is currently the Senior Director of the Visual Arts Department at Houston Baptist University, where he is also Artist-in-Residence in Painting and Professor of Art focused on teaching in the MFA program. Michael is also a prolific artist and is recognized for his figurative Post Symbolist painting. He has had numerous exhibitions at nationally and internationally recognized galleries and museum venues and may be seen in 13 museums in the U.S. as well numerous corporate collections.
Michael did a wonderful job and I’m so pleased to be able to share with you Michael’s own words about the show:
“As I studied each work enlarged on my computer screen the fluidity and love of this most amazing painting tradition was very evident in all of the works submitted. I must suggest that selecting only six awards was difficult as so many of the works submitted called to me. Generally, I am attracted to art which possesses both content and process and that reveals its energy through means that does not allow its theory to outstrip performance. Each of your fine works attracted my eye in different ways and each have value not just to the artist, though moreover to all others who are fortunate to explore the outstanding variety of their expression. Modalities of still life, figurative, landscape, abstraction and art which balances both figuration and abstraction are present in this fine grouping. Thematic content, energy of mark and gesture, fluidity, control of light and progressions of hues are always in my mind when selecting my own work for exhibition and as I continued to study each entry certain works began to recall my attention. After a great period of reflection my award selections seem to balance both traditions of abstraction and figuration and capture the fluid tradition of water media.
I wish to thank all at the Watercolor Art Society of Houston for their invitation to jury this fine January membership exhibition. Congratulations to all of the artists for your fine works and for contribution to the progression of the great tradition of watercolor.
First Place, Moto Yasue, Soon Enough Dawn, combines the fine traditions of watercolor through the expression of multiple worlds. The spiritual through the juxtaposition of representational and abstract states is exquisite and this work reveals a superb use of both wet and dry processes that are masterfully handled. The energies in this work are poetic and take my eye to other worlds.
Second Place, Adriane Edmundson, Olive Trees, possess a thoughtful progression of hues while possessing a variation of line and movement. Its brushwork is powerful and the ethereal energy transports me to a place that I could imagine Cezanne exploring with his watercolors in another place and time. The transitions between light and shade possess the evidence of hand and all the emotional energy that this association reveals is memorable.
Third Place, Larry Spitzberg, A Big Welcome, possesses an illuminate energy and immediacy with excellent control of transparent watercolor processes. This work transmits a sense of joy both with content and process.
Honorable Mention, Cheryl Evans, Wade Into the New Year - Open Up the Book Of Morning, excellently represents the currents of representational art with romantic underpinnings where light bathes a distant sea vista heightened by the colorful handling of a rising sun. It recalls the delicate handlings of Tuner and the early German romantic landscapes of Casper David Fredrick where light is indeed a metaphor for the spiritual in the human condition.
Honorable Mention, Fontaine Jacobs, Kitchen Clean Up, has excellent fluidity and an intelligent use of limited hues mindful of the works of Alberto Giacometti. This painting also expresses it themes through the its excellent handling of light and is connected to aspects of reality that Richard Deibenkorn explored decades ago before his Ocean Park Series. While playful this watercolor asserts its power though its fluid bold expression.
Honorable Mention, Sharyn Richey, El Centro, utilizes gesture and fluidity of brush mark to transport us to a place where the landscape is barely held recognizable and its colorful hues reminds one of Sargent where less may at times be more. The rich hues and varied linear elements also provide an illuminate energy that is memorable.”
Our most sincere thanks go to Michael for his thoughtful and educational observations.
FIRST PLACE: Enough Dawn by Motoko Yasue Soon
As an artist, I'm always intrigued to observe watercolor pigments traveling and spreading with water on paper. During this process, it is important for me at times to cast fate to the whims of gravity and accept whatever accidental happenings that the water creates. Like one’s life, this phenomenon is not always controllable. The geometric circular shapes in this work are a metaphor of a portal wherein we, humans, seek a transition from dark to light in life’s difficult circumstances. To depict one's movement or transition to a positive mental state, I illuminated the dim seascape by applying thin layers of transparent warm-colors such as red and yellow over the saturated dark blue hues.
SECOND PLACE Olive Trees by Ariane Edmundson
My family has a little summer Villa on the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been missing it so much in these trying times, as my trip was cancelled last summer, and I’ve habitually been going there every year of my life. I call myself half-native to this splendid coastal area, steeped in mythology. This particular stretch, near Capri, is said to be the place where Odysseus was sung to and almost lured ashore by the Sirens. In order to rest and partake, he decided to tie himself to the mast of his ship so as not to fall victim to their splendors. I too, have to resist their song, but am evermore deeply connected...and will return someday soon.
Sparkling Mediterranean waters and the swaying branches are still calling. If you look closely, you’ll find the Siren...
I used in succession: watercolor, line with pencil and grease pencil, acrylic paint. My challenge was to keep the spontaneity and sparkling joy in it, to keep a dancing quality in the movement and not to overwork it.
HONORABLE MENTION: El Centro by Sharyn Richey
I was really pleased to have my work, El Centro, recognized as Honorable Mention among such outstanding work!
Up until now most of my watercoloring has been en plein air, but not being able to travel to inspiring locations during the pandemic forced me to explore other ways to remain active in the medium. At the first of the year I decided to try my hand at abstractions (or nearly so) and this particular work was one of the first of these. I credit Eric Weigardt (whose workshop was the last in-person before we shut down) for inspiring me to paint more freely, as well as to use more brilliant colors and greater variety in viscosity. In addition, I have been studying John Marin's work for ideas on composition. Both influenced this very new direction in my work.
In addition, I think you would also appreciate a little story about a hiccup in the entry process: I submitted three entries a few days before the deadline but then received notice that one of them (El Centro) had not been received. I was asked "Are you still working on it?" No, but that gave me an idea. I was unhappy with an area in the upper left and saw a chance to "fix it up" before re-submitting. But you all know how that can go! On the morning of the due date I was unhappily looking at a piece that had been greatly diminished by the additional work! I considered sending it anyway; but then I gave myself a "talking to": If I had painted it before, I could paint something close to that again. Quickly. So, within a few hours I submitted a new painting with the same name as the original, "El Centro." I have to laugh that of my three entries, it was the one done most quickly with no opportunity for second thoughts that got recognized by our judge. Perhaps I should put all my work on a timer!
HONORABLE MENTION: Kitchen Cleanup by Fontaine Jacobs
Kitchen Cleanup was done during a kitchen remodel. I had to pack up everything and saw a painting moment as I grouped these glass jars on my countertop.
Painting glass on Yupo is fun because of the paper’s wonderful lifting ability. I started my love of painting glass with a series of wine glasses, then martini glasses, and now glass jars.
At Last! 2020 is behind us and we can look forward to a return to being together soon.
Sunday, January 10 is our next general meeting, artist demonstration, and awards for the first WAS-H exhibit of this calendar year. Award-winning artist Cheryl Evans will be our demo artist. It will still be a ZOOM meeting and an online show, but we are eager to see you in person and get your beautiful artwork back on our walls.
Your Board of Directors has been very, very busy behind the scenes, even though our building is still quiet and awaiting our return. The nominating committee has been successful is locating members eager & willing to join us on the board, serving you, for the 2021-2022 year starting in June.
I know you will join me in a big “thank you” to outgoing Education Director, Nicole Hansen, who has relocated to Washington state. Her tireless efforts enabled us to create a vibrant offering of online classes. We will miss her very much and are sad to see her go. However, we are blessed to have member Diann Zimmerman joining the board this month. This retired corporate banker and artist is excited to continue the work arranging WAS-H’s online classes and in-person classes. She is fortunate, too, to be supported as she gets started, by our current Board Secretary and past Education Director, Laurie Hammons. And I am especially pleased that member Kathleen Cooper has stepped forward to assume our Treasurer duties, which had fallen to various directors in the fall. She is a CPA and attorney and her expertise will serve WAS-H well.
In addition to our monthly gallery exhibits, Gallery Director Paula Fowler has worked with a committee to update and expand allowable media, surfaces, and framing/mounting, and protecting artwork. You can see these changes in the January Prospectus emailed out mid-December. In the new February 2021 issue of Watercolor Artist, the Northwest Watercolor Society has an article about having done the exact same thing. Great minds think alike.
Past President & AME Director Kathleen Church has chaired a Re-Open Committee as we move forward with plans to re-open our doors, starting with a January 16 outdoor event to welcome in the new year. Past President and Historian Jan McNeill is leading this fun activity. And WAS-H artist Liz Hill will be offering a small, in-person class, following CDC protocols, on January 23. Please see the website for details.
We can hardly wait for everyone’s return!! Until then, check our website for virtual volunteer opportunities, consider joining the board of directors for 2021-2022 as a way to give back and to keep WAS-H vibrant, stay safe, and keep painting!
by Fred Kingwill, landscape artist and teacher
Trees are often a great challenge for watercolorists and when you try to put some snow on them, it can be just frustrating! But, there is hope…
First of all, like everything we paint, you have to really “LOOK at them”! Many see trees, particularly evergreens, like the illustration on the left. But, actually most trees have a skeleton or branches/trunk, more like the drawing on the right. The branches grow up towards the sun and eventually they begin to drop and droop down. Check it out!
Try these exercises:
First do a simple drawing of the “skeleton” of three trees in pencil.
Next, grab some MASKING FLUID, (I like Pebeo), and put some snow shapes on some of the branches. Snow is not just a round blob but it has “fingers” that drop down through the branches, etc. I use an old brush, a stick, or even a chopstick to make the snow shapes. If you use a good brush, be sure to soap it before applying the mask and clean it immediately when done to avoid your tears.
Now we are ready to paint the needles on the trees AFTER the mask has dried. Used a dark green to paint right over the mask and keep in mind that the branches mostly grow UP and the edges are SHARP. When all is dry, remove the masking and paint the white “snow” with a light blue like cerulean. Leave a few whites on the top of the snow, too, to make it look real.
Now finalize the painting with some details around the now “Blue” snow and the edges of the tree. Use a dark green or even black to do this. It should now be looking like your next holiday card! Give one final sweep with a cerulean charged one inch flat brush pulled horizontally across the bottom with a “dry brush’ technique and that should do it. If you want to some more FUN, throw some salt on the snow when wet and use a razor blade to scratch some icicles on the trees.
Here are some more ways to make the illusion of snow on trees:
Draw the trees and indicate with your pencil where you would like to have the snow show. Paint the trees leaving those “negative” spaces the color of the paper. When dry, you can go ahead and paint the snow shapes with some blue. Some think this is easier than using masking fluid.
This next one is easy. After you draw the tree “skeletons”, paint some blue snow shapes on the trees. Just the blue shapes first and then, when dry, go ahead and paint the foliage on the tree.
Finally, paint the three trees in a WET INTO WET manner. Wet the entire area first, then be careful to wait until the paper has begun to lose it shine (not too wet) before you start to paint the trees. Then, when dry. you can use white opaque paint to put some snow on the trees. You can also use a razor blade to scratch some snow or icicles…
WAY TO GO!
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