Lightening has struck twice!

I recently learned my painting of Erin was accepted into the 2017 National Watercolor Society’s International show by jurors Mike Bailey, Cathy Hegman and Kathleen Ballard.  Looking at the list of names, I nearly cried! I feel awed to be among this accomplished group.

This is the second time I’ve had this honor. For my 2013 initiation I earned signature membership! Then president Linda Doll mentioned in her opening comments that on average an artist gets into the NWS open show once in 13 years! Guess I’ve beat the odds.

2013 Acceptance paintings

2013 Show opening photos

The back story

Some of my paintings have a long gestation period. I’d taken the reference photo about 25 years ago while camping in BC with my friend Erin Leonard. I’d always thought it would make a great painting and finally had a chance to give it a try last fall, I did most of the work in about four hours, sketching and painting it as a demo for Painters Showcase, with a small but fascinated audience. The photo was full figure with woods in the background but I just wanted to focus on attitude. I cropped in tight and painted full sheet, using the strong, warm color of my favorite paints — M.Graham of course, including Quinacridone Red, Nickel Quinacridone Gold and my trademark black mix. Working at an angle to let the drips happen, I was moving so fast the brush flew out of my hand three times! Twice it hit the floor, then it landed on the painting just below Erin’s armpit, leaving a dark mark. I said, “I didn’t mean to do that, but I’m leaving it.”

Now that I can choose my painting subjects, I really don’t paint for the subject’s approval. If I am happy with a painting, that’s good enough. Still, I was pleased with Erin’s response when I put the painting on Facebook: “Beyond the memory, what really stuns me is how well Rene brought alive an emotional life. Really amazing… subject aside.” Some of you know Erin from her Springbox Gallery years. She speaks with experience when it comes to art.

You Gotta Problem With That?  — this painting title that speaks to the attitude I was wanting to convey was suggested by my audience at the demo.

Geoff McCormack gave it first place in Village Gallery’s fall show — and he didn’t know it was mine! I’d framed it using mat board instead of my usual linen backing so I wouldn’t give myself away.

Other Awards

I was blessed with several during the Lake Area Artists sale last April. Here are judges comments, followed by mine:

Sage Of The Sea — Lake Oswego Review Award
Judges Gary Stein and Jillian Daley

“We love the textures, the sense of movement and the play of light on the turtle’s wise and expressive face. Lovely!”
I painted this sea turtle while teaching a workshop in Kauai this February after photographing turtles on the beach. It’s painted on a highly textured piece of watercolor paper, using stark contrast and expressive color. One of my all time favorite paintings, it sold during the first hour of the sale!


Golden Dogwoods — Honorable Mention
Judge: Bradley Lawrence, Principal Judge

“Lovely use of difficult media. Beautiful presentation. The artist has so many strong pieces here, and they show thoughtful, confident technique and vision. Amazing balance of control and the uncontrolled. Beautiful.”
The idea for this series evolved after marbling over a gold piece of watercolor paper. I loved the resulting bling and wanted to paint on it. After being invited to paint for the botanical show at the Chinese Garden — Lan Su In Bloom, I decided to test out the concept with these dogwood blossoms I photographed at the Oregon Garden.

Out My Back Door — Lakewood Center Award
Judge: Andrew Edwards

“Restful yet filled with images that emerge and recede within and between the trees and the shades of color.”
There is a wealth of pattern, shape and color to be found in the forest. This is literally the view out my door! I noticed one evening as the light was fading how the trunks were dark against the sky but silhouetted in front of the dark hills they were light. This wasn’t visible in the photograph, so I made a couple of quick sketches, then worked from them, exaggerating the light and color.