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Entering the world of watercolor

Entering the world of watercolor

A guest wanders around the Texas Watercolor Society (TWS) exhibit at the Greater Denton Arts Council in Denton, TX. TWS is a non-profit organization that watercolor artists can join, taking annual entries to be considered for awards up to $2000. PC: Katie Jenkins

Entering the world of watercolor
July 21
23:40 2017

From detailed brush strokes that bleed a mixture of colors across the canvas to the visceral feeling radiating off the finished piece of art, the medium of watercolor is certainly one that is a standout to both artists and audiences alike.

The Texas Watercolor Society’s 68th Annual Exhibit is currently on display at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center in Denton until Aug. 26.

The society was founded in 1949 by Margaret Pace Willson and Amy Freeman Lee. Their mission has always been to advance the art of watercolor painting, particularly through an annual exhibition that celebrates the work and talent of artists.

“What we are trying to do is provide a vessel for painters and the passion of painting,” society president Betsy Moritz said. “When there is a community that likes all the same thing, it becomes stronger.”

The process of selecting paintings for the annual exhibit begins Jan. 1 of each year, with an all-call to various artists to submit paintings. The deadline for the entry of up to three original watercolor paintings is April 1.

The thought process for selecting paintings among at least 50 entries can be dependent on a number of factors. For Soon Warren, a juror for the 2017 exhibit and watercolor artist, unity is her biggest deciding factor.

“I usually select everything that is more unified,” she said. “I am looking for [how well the painting flows], that unity and connection.”

Entries are submitted via email as digital art, and Warren said opinions can certainly change once the art is observed in person.

“Usually the digital image is different than the actual painting and it changes the feeling in a different way,” Warren said. “When I look through the digital art, sometimes I feel, ‘Wow this is great’ or ‘This looks so superb,’ but sometimes it looks kind of okay. Sometimes [in person] the paintings are as good as my initial impression from the digital image.”

Ultimately, it is the connection the juror feels to a painting that can be the deciding factor.

“I am not looking for what kind of subject matter or what kind of technique,” Warren said. “I usually call it attitude, but I mostly call it the energy within the painting. So I actually kind of go through the paintings many times to kind of feel it.”

Dee Tunseth is watercolor artist whose award-winning painting, Escalera a La Villita, is currently featured in the 2017 exhibit.

Tunseth’s work has won awards during five of the seven years she has been a member of the society. She credits the artistic community that has been formed as what has encouraged her growth as an artist.

“Receiving awards is wonderful and certainly humbling, but to me the important part of belonging to an organization is the relationships and friendships that are formed,” she said. “Artists generally work alone in a studio, so it’s important in learning and growing to have occasional feedback from other artists.”

What is special for the artist is the name and reputation they carry after their painting has been chosen for the exhibit or has won an award. This includes the addition of the society’s symbol next to the artist’s initials on the painting.

“Our signature is known throughout the United States, which means if you get chosen you get to put our initials ‘T.W.S.’ next to your name,” Moritz said. “That ‘T.W.S.’ carries anywhere in the United States, along with other artists, other groups, other societies.”

While the exhibit is special for the artists whose paintings are chosen, it can also be an exciting experience for anyone engaging with the medium of watercolor.

“I wouldn’t call it more valuable or more artistic, but I think it has its advantages and disadvantages, like other mediums,” Soon said. “Watercolor [as a medium] is very lighthearted and opens up the imagination in a way. Sometimes, you can see things happening that you don’t expect.”

Featured Image: A guest wanders around the Texas Watercolor Society (TWS) exhibit at the Greater Denton Arts Council in Denton, TX. TWS is a nonprofit organization that watercolor artists can join, taking annual entries to be considered for awards up to $2,000. Katie Jenkins

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Dionecia Petit

Dionecia Petit

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1 Comment

  1. Dee
    Dee July 28, 11:41

    Thank you, Dionecia Petit, for a well-written, informative article!

    Reply to this comment

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