Award Winners! Spring 2020 Members Online Exhibition of Transparent Watercolor

It is with great pleasure that we present here the Award Winners selected by Richard Stephens from among the 59 artist’s paintings included in this our First Ever Members Online Exhibition of Transparent Watercolor.

You can view all 59 paintings here:

Spring 2020 Members Online Exhibition of Transparent Watercolor.

Richard Stephens Juror/Judge’s Statement can be read here:

 Juror Statement NFWS 2020.

Our judge provided sensitively thoughtful and often instructive comments for each of the paintings he selected for awards. We have included those comments here following the gallery of award winners. 

First Place Award: Candace Cima, “I Don’t Think It’s Romantic…..I Think It’s Dark”

Every time I scrolled through the entries this painting stopped me! One time it was for the obvious technical competence. The next time it was design and composition, then perhaps it was atmosphere and mood. There are just so many things to appreciate and enjoy in this watercolor. But the main reason I kept coming back was the narrative, the story. In this case, to me, the story is a mystery. Even the title is a mystery…maybe it gives us a clue to what the artist is thinking, but leaves so much up to the viewer. And, after all, isn’t that what art is all about…to engage us, to challenge us…….to make us think and feel?

Second Place Award: Mike Eagle, “Children of the Sun”

This painting is a wonderful design and technical achievement.  The artist is obviously accomplished at rendering the figure, both in terms of anatomy and capturing personality.  The unusual, yet entertaining perspective, added to the challenge. But it was the play of light and shadow that I found most engaging. You feel the warmth and almost smell the lotion. The cropped figure in the flag shorts at first bothered me from a design standpoint. I felt it drew too much attention to that corner of the paintiing. But the overall strength of the composition and narrative won out.

Third Place Award: Jane Stoddard, “Lockwood Beauty”

Whatever the medium, green is considered the most difficult color to handle. This painting is about much more than how well the artist handled the greens…but it is impressive.  I responded to the wonderful contrasts that are everywhere in this watercolor. I appreciated the rigid horizontals and verticals in the background in contrast to the organic shapes of the leaves and flower petals. The wonderful darks that negatively paint the bright, light struck leaves and the complimentary colors of the orange and blue of the flower. In my own work, Contrast is one of the most important Elements of Design.  Add to that the feeling of depth the artist has masterfully created: background, mid-ground and foreground. This is a special painting in so many ways.

Honorable Mention Award: Tom Dalbo, “Resting in Peace”

Though not the most uplifting subject, there is a certain calm and tranquility about this painting. Its clean and simple design is echoed with the almost monochromatic color palette. The strong foreground elements are repeated, yet with variety, walking the viewer through the mid-ground to the distant row of trees and a hint of an architectural element. Technical ability used to invoke an emotional response. This is a very successful painting.

Honorable Mention Award: Robin Zefers Clark, “Reunion”

This painting is just fun to look at! But beyond that, it certainly has a story most of us, of a certain age, can relate to. This family reunion happened years in the past based on the swimwear. And there is strong family resemblance among the brothers, sisters and cousins. The figures are well handled, the composition interesting and believable and my overall response is to smile and enjoy the moment captured. Probably painted from an old photograph…, which can have its own challenges. Good job!

NFWS Board of Directors Award: Martha Rogala, “Chautauqua”

The technique utilized in this painting is what makes the wonderful medium of watercolor so unique. This artist has allowed the pigment to do its own thing. The foreground shadows are fresh and soft edged because the artist did not overwork them, let the colors mix on the paper and trusted the medium. The same with the background trees and house…just beautiful. Great design and an example of what watercolor can do in the hands of a skilled and sensitive artist.

Margaret M. Martin Award: Dan Meyer, “Couple Ole Birds”

This is a delightful painting with an equally delightful title. The artist has accepted, and solved, the challenge of including architecture, landscape/trees and wildlife in one composition. I especially appreciate the selection of a vignette as the design choice. The old house, the old tree and the old birds work well together as a consistent narrative in this enjoyable visual story.

Judge’s Choice Award: Audrey Kay Dowling, “Garden Queens”

The artist has created a wonderful abstract pattern resulting in a strong design that has both a stain glass and fabric feel. The complimentary colors of red and green are punctuated with the well-placed darks offering just the right amount of contrast to move the viewer around the painting. The negatives shapes are all-different and add to the effectiveness of the overall design. Really nice work!

Judge’s Choice Award: Carol Molnar, “I Guess I’ll Stay Here Awhile”

Being owned by a cat, I relate to this well-done watercolor. The title could be the thoughts of the man or the cat. The echo of the black and white for each actor on this well rendered stage is a nice touch. The crossed leg presents a lap ready for sitting. The cat sees that…but will play a little hard to get. I love the story and admire the technical ability of the artist. Painting subjects and themes are everywhere…we just need to “see” rather than just look.

Judge’s Choice Award: Catherine O’Neill, “The Instructor”

This painting exhibits exceptional mastery of the medium and a strong eye for detail not often found in watercolor. The figure is extremely well handled, as is the gear and equipment in the boat. The water is “suggested” perfectly. It could have been overly rendered and thus competed with the real subject…the figure and the elements in the boat. The glow emanating from the upper left creates a wonderful light and atmosphere that adds to the overall success of the painting.

Judge’s Choice Award: Judson Brown, “Hurricane Deck”

Painting water is tough. Painting moving water is even tougher! This watercolor expresses the feeling of both the power and beauty of nature. The man made structure and the figures seem so fragile in relation to the rushing water and the rocks and boulders it is transforming and reshaping. This technically well done painting makes a strong statement about man and nature.

Judge’s Choice Award: Sallye Keith, “Beargrass”

This labor-intensive painting has a delicate charm that draws the viewer in to explore the lacelike brushwork, subtle color and value changes found on the tiny petals. The artist’s control of the medium is evident in the consistency of the line work. But it is the background that I most enjoy. The soft focus dappling of cools and warms, lights and darks present an outstanding supporting role to compliment the lead actor in this performance.