Changing With the Times – New Titles for the Fall & Spring Shows

by Beth Verheyden, Convention Consultant

It was the year 2000, and I was a newbie to WSO, a baby among so many giants in watercolor. I was honored but shy, nervous, and excited at the same time. I paid close attention to the rules, checking and double-checking the “how-to’s”: how to enter a show, how to prepare a painting for exhibition, how to deliver and pick up a painting, and the list goes on. I asked my friend Kara Pilcher for advice, question after question. Though, one thing I never figured out was, “why is the Fall Show called “Transparent”, when it was acceptable to use opaque watercolors in the painting? It confused me, and I always second guessed myself when adding opaque pigments to a painting, which I intended to submit to the Fall “Transparent” Show.

Now, fast forward to today when the requirements (Policies) for the Fall “Transparent” Show say in part, “The Fall Transparent Exhibition is open to watermedia that can be reactivated by water” (see Page 38, Policy X (B) (5) for complete criteria). Well, if I was confused 15 years ago, I’m really confused now! In an effort to have our shows titled in a way that correctly describe the criteria for each show, the Board of Directors has made the following changes:

  • The formerly known “Fall Transparent Exhibition (Show)” will now be titled the “Fall Watercolor Exhibition” (Show).
  • The formerly known “Spring Aqueous Exhibition (Show)” will now be titled the “Spring Experimental Exhibition” (Show).

I know this will take some time to get used to and, out of habit we’ll all refer to each show by the old titles for a bit. However, in all our publications you’ll see them referred to as “Fall Watercolor Exhibition” and “Spring Experimental Exhibition”, and in time we’ll change with the times.

Addition of Aquaboard and Clayboard as Substrates: One additional change “for the times” and because you asked for it, aquaboard and clayboard are now acceptable surfaces to paint on for the Spring Experimental Show only. Please refer to the Policies in your 2015 Roster for complete criteria. In addition, Rene Eisenbart has written a nice article on the subject in this edition (February 2015) of the Watermark.

Board Votes to Adhere to Policies for Fall Show

By Linda Nye

The board appreciates the time and thoughtfulness that Rene Eisenbart has taken to write her article informing us of the responses she received of members’ preferences of substrates for the Fall Show. As a leadership group, it is important to us that all aspects of a proposal be heard. However, after two years of this discussion the board has voted to adhere to the Policies set forth in the Membership Roster & Handbook, page 38, B. Exhibitions 4 a. Work must be on a single piece of untreated paper. Therefore, Yupo will no longer be acceptable as substrata for the Fall Show. Please see Beth Verheyden’s article below about the new acceptable substrates for the Spring Show.

Fall Show Requirements

by Rene Eisenbart

This discussion considers our rules for painting surfaces in the Fall Transparent Show, which we addressed at the 2014 Fall Convention in Medford. While some have indicated they would prefer two aqueous media shows and others are strongly in favor of keeping the Fall Show traditional, transparent painting technique is not in question here, only the surfaces that are used to paint on.

Some of us work primarily in transparent watercolor but occasionally use transparent acrylic mediums on the surface that do not alter the transparency of our work. Others are interested in expanding the range of surfaces allowed to include clay coated surfaces, other types of paper, or paper coated with a transparent acrylic.

After bringing this issue up at the business meeting in Medford, a number of members responded. A majority appears to favor loosening restrictions, but feelings run strong in both directions, with some ambivalence.

From these responses three options appear:

  • KEEP IT LIKE IT IS with only watercolor paper and Yupo allowed
  • ALLOW ONLY WATERCOLOR PAPER and drop Yupo
  • KEEP THE PAINT TRANSPARENT and allow for a broader range of painting surfaces

To give us a better perspective, Janet Lindell put together a graph of what many of our societies allow in their shows. The results showed that most watercolor organizations now include aqueous media. Two major holdouts for transparent shows are Transparent Watercolor Society of America and Watercolor West. There are likely other regional organizations, but these two national shows are definitely paper only.

Regardless of our individual preferences, it is useful to consider what policy is best for the organization. While that may be a bit hard to determine, most of us agree that having two shows is a good thing. Having the transparent show offers a reason to continue that practice. The question is: “What makes a painting transparent, the paint or the surface?” Another question: “How do we police this?” Many of the paintings in the 2014 Fall Show, according to our juror Linda Daly Baker, used non-transparent paints but were still acceptable to the intake committee. Policing would not be a fun role for anyone.

Here are some comments I received about surface rules:

  • “The Fall Show should stay in line with other transparent shows.”
  • Almost anything goes in the Spring Show, let’s keep the Fall Show in the time-honored tradition of fine art watercolor painting.”
  • “Allowing more surfaces would be inclusive of more of our membership and encourage participation.”
  • “It’s difficult to see when an otherwise transparent painting has matte medium on it. You can’t tell by looking.”
  • “Some guidelines for transparent watercolor shows allow only watercolor paper or cotton paper. We should reconsider Yupo.”
  • “It would be a shame to become more restrictive with our shows.” 
  • “We already have Yupo, why not rice papers as well, or any other paper if it has been painted transparently by the artist.”
  • “Times are changing, let’s keep pace. Most watercolorists aren’t traditional anymore.”
  • “Allow paper treated with matte medium, watercolor board, and aquabord or claybord.”
  • “Lets have the best transparent paintings in our shows, regardless of the surface they’re on.”

My personal hope is that while we explore these issues that we continue to show the respect we have for one another, along with the good humor that this organization is known for.