16 December 2014

Watercolor West 2014

I made it to the Watercolor West exhibit at the City of Brea Art Gallery in the nick of time--it went up October 11, and came down December 14, and I saw it on the very last day!

The exhibit included entries from all over the world, and was juried by Judy Morris AWS NWS (with whom I took a workshop this summer!). She commented that what she looked for was paintings that "make me say to myself, 'I wish I had painted that one!'" I certainly identified with THAT statement! What a lot of talent there was in this room of 100 artists!

There were awards from First Place ($2,000) to individual bequest awards ($150), as well as a lot of "merchandise awards" from various organizations. As usual, I agreed with some of the choices and found other paintings with no award among the most appealing in the show. I'll share a few of both here.

Please note that I am putting in attributions to the artists, and I hope that none of the readers of this blog will abuse these artists' trust by using their art in any way. Featuring them here is purely an additional homage, and for the benefit of those who don't live in California, because they're just too good to miss.

I also apologize for the quality and cropping of some of the photos, as well as some unfortunate reflections of the room behind me in their glass. That's the one downside to watercolor--you have to protect its surface!

Here is first place, by Robin St. Louis, and it's characterized by her interesting technique of putting an edging of light around each of her figures to halo them and make them pop from the background. I'm not sure it's my favorite, but it's definitely a beautiful work of saturated color, texture, and light.

"Marketing Majors "(26x38), Robin St. Louis

Here are two that I loved: One received an award, the other didn't, but the subject matter and the rendering of both is wonderful. 

"Still Waiting Too" (20x24), Cristine Weatherby
"Stephan" (18x12), Tatsiana Harbacheuskaya

This one should be on the cover of a Dick Francis novel! Love the motion, the immediacy, the simple background that lets the subject matter shine.

"Home Stretch" (12x15.75), Deborah Friedman

I was bowled over by the light and shadow, the dry brush technique, and the placement of the red accents in this painting:

"Commuters in Detroit" (18x25), Yuki Hall

These two, although by different artists, shared to an extraordinary degree the look and feel of a color woodcut by Gustave Baumann. I'd love to have a discussion with them about their technique--the flat colors and the palette were so distinctive.

"Nine Bicycles" (19x29), Kris Parins

"The Blacksmith" (22x15), Mark McDermott

And speaking of a gorgeous palette, the warmth of the sun, the background, and the fruits in this were stunning--you could almost warm your hands at this painting!

"Persimmons at Sunrise #2" (16x22), Linda Erfle

As I have said before, I'm not usually a fan of uber-realism, but I have to share two paintings here that were stunning in their  technical proficiency (and also pleasing to the eye!):

"Pitcher and Persimmons (30x22), Chris Krupinski

"Nutcracker Sweet" (22x30), Cindy Brabec-King

I couldn't pick a favorite from among the paintings in this show to save my life...but here are a couple of final paintings that embody what watercolor is all about--light. Direct light, reflected light, the contrast of light and shadow, but always, mostly, light!

"The Church of San Pietro" (22x30), Dan Burt

"Oporto Fishermen" (29.5x21.5), Stephen E. Walters

I hope you have enjoyed this little 12-painting retrospective. There were many more incredibly special pieces in this show, but these were the ones that caught my eye (and made it onto my phone camera). If you'd like to see the entire show, you can mail $20 to Jim Salchak, 18220 S. Hoffman Ave., Cerritos, CA 90703-2612 and obtain a copy of the catalog!


  1. Ooooooo looks like you had a lovely time. Great paintings and I like your favs too. Chris Krupinski is one of my favourites also. I love the way she puts fabrics fruit and glass together. I wouldn't want to paint like her but her colour choices etc are spot on. Liking the church is San Pedro too. Bx

  2. Thank you, I really enjoyed looking at these beautiful watercolours!