What and amazing weekend!! I am so honored and proud to be a member of the Florida Watercolor Society! It is 970 members strong and there was an attendance this weekend at the conference of over 500. It is the only watercolor society in the nation that makes an event and conference around the annual exhibition. Here is a brief run down of how it all progresses. The week before the show, there are 2 four day workshops given by a variety of well known artist. One of the workshops is always given by the judge of the show. Last year workshops were given by Nicolas Simmons and Soon Y Warren. I was thrilled Nick chose my piece to be in the exhibition, and his workshop was amazing. This year’s workshops were given by Linda Baker, the judge of the show, and Mike Bailey, former president of the National Watercolor Society. This year a third one day workshop with Sue Allen was offered too. These workshops are optional, very popular and they usually fill up very fast.
On Thursday evening, after the workshops conclude the judge of the show gives a keynote talk and demo. Linda Baker’s demo was wonderful. She is such a sweet person and I was intrigued to learn more about her painting technique which involves more masking and pouring. Then Friday the fun continues.... a full day of demonstrations given by a wide variety of artists in the conference rooms as well as the trade show. There is so much to do and see, you can’t possibly do it all. It’s hard to pick and choose! This year I attended demo’s given by, a roster of amazing Florida artists which includes: Janet and Steve Rogers, Pat Weaver, Karen Braverman, Lynn Ferris, Sterling Edwards, Teresa Kirk, and Jamie Cordero. Mike Bailey also did a demo on Saturday. There are also expert panels, and talks on marketing and showing your art, and digital critiques, given by painters who are very well known in our field, who have painted, taught and judged shows for many years.
Did I mention trade show? A whose who of the art supply world is there, Cheap Joe's, Jerry’s Artorama, giclee companies, local art supply companies, and representatives from all the regional watercolor societies. All giving great deals and discounts so that we can stock up for the year! The president of Daniel Smith also attended the conference. I was thrilled to meet and get to know Joe Miller, Cheap Joe. He is the kindest and sweetest person that does so much for us artists.
Saturday bright and early I volunteered to help with the Paint Around. Five artists prepare a drawing and reference material, each start with their painting but every 10 minutes, the paintings swap easels! Every artist works on each other’s paintings. You end up with your own at the end to finish it. You never know what’s going to come back to you! All the paintings are raffled off with many of other raffle items and prizes that take place throughout the weekend and raise money for FWS.
Saturday is similar to Friday, more demos, trade show, plus a digital critique given by the judge, who goes through every painting accepted into the show, explaining why they chose it and what they liked about it. I also had a chance, for a fee, to do a half hour critique, one on one, with this year’s judge, Linda Baker. I did not get into the show this year, and it was a great opportunity to really know why and put the speculation to rest. I could submit 10 of my paintings for her to review. My take away from the meeting was basically it was the subject matter I chose to enter this year. Looking at my portfolio there were three paintings she would have chosen had I entered those! You can never second guess what a judge is going to be drawn to. She also gave suggestions for some small improvements that would make some paintings more appealing to a judge.
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to have a 10 minute meeting with the editor of Splash, Rachel Rubin Wolf. She looked at 2 of the paintings Linda did, and I found it curious that there were elements in the paintings that she questioned that Linda liked and vice versa! It just goes to show that there is no right or wrong, what one may be drawn to another might not. Don’t be discouraged to enter shows and competitions. The judges vary with each and eventually one will click with your work! The main take away from a number of judges I have heard talk on the subject of jurying shows and what they are looking foris, design and composition, emotion, emotion, emotion!, hand of the artist, creativity, and lastly technique.
The weekend concluded on Sunday with the general meeting and a presentation by Rachel on her role as editor of Splash, her process and what she is looking for as she chooses artwork for publication. The same rules apply as getting juried into shows, but differ too in that she is putting a book together and is focusing on what looks good on a page, versus an exhibition. And of course, her own tastes and preferences factor into the final selections. When it comes down to choosing between two outstanding images, it can be like splitting hairs!
One of the best parts for me of the whole weekend is seeing friends, making new friends, and being with hundreds of people that have the same passion you do! Now, it’s time to get busy and paint!!!!!