Editorial: Watercolor Society Works

"I have clutched hard to my cynicism for many years, it keeps me warm at night. I let it go now when the occasion calls for it, and I hope it enables me to discard some of the elitism I have picked up like chicken pox."

Mountain Man Carpenter_Betty Blevins.jpg

Mountain Man Carpenter by Betty Blevins

I recently recovered my generic watercolors from the bowels of my art supply cache for some drawings I have been working on. The pigment is horrible, but the technique I am employing is worse. I remember why watercolor is one of those media that looks inviting, with its innocuous ‘water’ right up front, but is secretly a pain in the arse with a steep learning curve.


Currently there are watercolor shows at The Museum of Texas Tech University, and Buddy Holly Center. Each show is a group exhibition of watercolor society works. At times these sorts of events would be the fodder for art snobbery, and relegated to so-called craft art, or hobbyist art. Some of the works are a little hard on the eyes, but the heart of the paintings is about the skill.


FM651 South of Crosbyton, TX_Tim Oliver.jpg

FM651 South of Crosbyton, TX by Tim Oliver

What separates some of these works from ‘fine art’ might be the emphasis on photo reproduction, or the fact that many of the artists are not ‘trained artists’--whatever the hell that is (probably something to do with words from theory class like thingness, hegemony, and agency). Sure, many of the works should have just remained photographs. Some of the abstract expressionist works look like ‘abstract expressionist’ works, which are imitative and void of the expression bits. Overall, however, what I saw at each exhibition was art being made outside of the academy by people that clearly love their medium. I know Real Artists who don’t love their mediums this much. There is cleverness in the works, technical competency, and attention to subtle variations in light and depth. Their subjects wonderfully inform many of the paintings, and some evoke emotive reactions to nostalgic scenes and landscapes.


Beach Comber_Carol Peterson.jpg

Beach Comber by Carol Peterson

I have clutched hard to my cynicism for many years, it keeps me warm at night. I let it go now when the occasion calls for it, and I hope it enables me to discard some of the elitism I have picked up like chicken pox. When I do let it go, I am reminded why art works: it can be expressed in infinite layers, and with equal enthusiasm no matter on what layer you exist.


Images courtesy of Michael Glenn


Scrolling Image on Bowerbird Homepage: Mountain Man Carpenter by Betty Blevins


Annual Spring Exhibition of West Texas Watercolor Society at the Buddy Holly Center (ended June 14th)


40th Annual Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibition at the Museum of Texas Tech University (Galleries 2 & 3)


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