Award Winners, Spring 2021 Members Transparent Watercolor Show

Congratulations to the NFWS Members whose paintings have been selected to win awards in our Spring 2021 Members Transparent Watercolor Show. Our judge  Nancy Lane‘s comments are shared below. The award winners can now be seen at the Artists Group Gallery, One Linwood Avenue in Buffalo, New York. The Exhibition can be viewed at AGG from April 23 until May 28, 2021. It’s a beautiful show, nicely hung. Thank you to Deb Meier and her NFWS Exhibition Committee, and to Don Suita and the Western New York Artists Group. 

Again, congratulations to all artists who submitted their paintings. Keep painting and stay safe!



First Place Award To E. Jane Stoddard for “Wash Day, Italy”

Judges Commentary:    This masterful painting delights on many levels. If fist seen from across the room, it offers a pattern of squares merging with an exciting diagonal shadow shape. The window shapes, though balanced and somewhat similar, are all slightly different, and one window merges with the diagonal shadow to create an exciting energy that is so different from the geometric regularity of the window pattern. A few steps closer, the subject comes into focus, and the green shutters agains the red bricks create the feeling of the warm sun. Up close, a third level of delight comes from the incredible level of textural detain and nuanced color in the facade and the laundry. But the artist had me from across the room with the strong initial design!

Second Place Award to Dan Meyer for “Break Away”

Judges Commentary:    The artist’s skill with the unpredictability of watercolor is celebrated in this painting. What better subject to paint than a wave if you are embracing what water wants to do? I was taken with the wet-in-wet passages, blooms and splattering in the wave to skillfully suggest water’s essence, without any overworking. Allowing the paint to move and letting it do so is one of the challenges of watercolor that has been handled adeptly here. The long format and composition of this painting are also very strong. I like that the birds are actually a second focal point after the wave—you don’t see them from a distance but are happy to discover them upon closer inspection.

Third Place Award to Frederick Raiser for “Happy Floral” 

Judge’s Commentary:   While this subject is traditional, it has been painted with a strong sense of composition and design, which is what grabs my eye. The container is slightly off center, and the negative spaces are all different and interesting. The flowers break out of the format and varied places, in varied amounts. a lot of simplification went into this work, but it is still very complex. The color is ravishing, but not overwhelming – the stronger colors are balanced by the cooler paler colors and the neutrals in the foliage.  Examining this painting did make me very happy.

Honorable Mention Award to Brenda Cretney for “Village Square Players”

Judge’s Commentary:   This challenging subject has been sensitively painted. But it still stands up from across the room with its strong graphic design of dark and tan shapes against a vertical pattern. That is what first attracted me. It continues to delight upon slightly closer inspection: the organic patterns of plaid shirt and fabric wrinkles are a nice contrast to the vertical striping of the receding picket fence. I like how the white shirt gets lost edges against the fence. Up close, the personalities and narrative emerge, offering another level of enjoyment.

Honorable Mention Award to Debra Meier for “The Survivor”

Judge’s Commentary:   This painting grabs you and won’t let go! The intensity of the subject’s stare communicates many feelings appropriate to the times we find ourselves in. The artist has very successfully captured this human’s struggle, and in so doing, all of our struggles. At close viewing, I saw that the paint had been handled boldly yet was not overdone, especially in the face, which is very difficult to accomplish. The freshness of the paint application overall was appealing and sold me on the work.

Board of Directors’ Award to Val Liberator for “Summer’s Bliss”

Judge’s Commentary:   The intricate play of light and shadow in this painting creates a complex design that would not let my eye go. I found my eye roving around the whole piece, from subject (butterfly) to supporting actor (flower) to the soft background (mystery!) and back again, all the while feeling I was bathed in sunlight. The complementaries of violet/yellow and green/pink also were beautifully handled, adding another level of interest and enjoyment.

Margaret M. Martin Award to Jennifer Koury for “Juicy Fruits”

Judge’s Commentary:   In honor of Margaret Martin, I sought a work that celebrated color, fresh application of paint, and good drawing. This piece met that criteria. It literally glows with natural, but bright color, and life. Light shimmers throughout the arrangement, aided by soft-edged, pale colorful shadows. The arrangement is well designed and interesting, with the loose grapes scattered over layers of linens. A few well-placed strong darks help keep the rest of the subject light and fresh.

Judge’s Choice Award to Kathy Armstrong for “Reach”

Judge’s Commentary:    I was taken by the strong design of this painting and the choice of subject. I like unusual subjects, and here we have one. The artist celebrates the incredible beauty of this humble plant—no fancy flowers here! —  and yet, still, it is gorgeous. In a realistic approach such as this, the challenge of painting sunlight on leaves is compounded with the inclusion of blue light reflecting from the sky. Here we can easily feel both the warmth of the sun and the cool from the sky’s light. The scale of the plant within the format of the frame provides some mystery – is this plant as tall as us? or is it small and we are rabbits, coming upon it at nose level? Questions such as this create further enjoyment for the viewer.

Judge’s Choice Award to Thomas Baldwin for “The Fisherman”

Judges Commentary:       This piece called to me from across the room despite its somewhat small size. That is a clue that it is a strong painting! What a great design. It worked just as well from a middle distance: the beautiful, nuanced earthy color palette was appropriate, as it took back seat to the patterns and shapes that carried the painting. And then, up close, there is a tiny fisherman! What fun to discover him and then try to figure out where he is. I wasn’t quite clear about his location and what was surrounding him, but that is part of what I enjoy here. Mystery seems to attract me.

Judge’s Choice Award to Sandra Bemisderfer for “Off Loading Fish”

Judges Commentary:     This is an excellent composition that exudes a lot of energy and mystery. The placement of the shapes within the format is perfect (–with the exception of where the tallest man’s head kisses the edge, which I would push further out, or pull back in). The strong horizontal line, which could have cut the painting in half, is thankfully below the center point and broken by one fish. The negative shapes in the sky are all different and unique. The blue/orange complementary colors are exciting and perfect for a marine painting. Perhaps a bit more detail in the men would hold the viewer’s interest at close range. But overall, it’s an engaging design and subject that held my attention.

Judge’s Choice Award to Janine Motto for “Morning Reboot”

Judges Commentary:    I’ll say again that the strong composition of this piece from across the room kept calling to me. A pattern of irregular stripes (tree trunks, in this case) is a tricky thing. Spacing and width of stripes is crucial within the format, so that they look like an irregular creation of nature, and not stripes on a sofa. The artists succeeded with that challenge here, and then very bravely let the trunks intersecting with the brilliant sun simply disappear. It creates a very believable feeling of strong sunlight, suggesting the golden hour of day. But to me the piece is just as much about the lovely pattern of trunks and branches. The artist chose well to not let color overwhelm these two subjects of light and pattern.