In 1967, a group of Southern California painters banded together and founded a transparent watercolor society called Watercolor West. From the beginning, Watercolor West has promoted and exhibited transparent watercolor knowing that many other shows are open to works rendered in mixed media, acrylic, ink, collage, and opaque materials.
The first juried exhibition was held in 1969 at the Lyon Gallery in Redlands, California. Since that year, Watercolor West has annually sponsored a national competition and exhibition open to any artist who paints in transparent watercolor.
Transparent watercolor is watercolor that does not contain any white paint. Viewers are able to see the white of the paper through the color, and in many cases underlying washes of color are visible. It can be done spontaneously or carefully designed with a series of glazes. This year’s juror, Scott Moore, is a master of the latter method. This exhibition is an example of the many ways that transparent watercolor artists express themselves.
This year’s first place winner, Dick Cole (for Siena) is a consistent participant in Watercolor West Exhibitions. He is currently serving as the president of The National Watercolor Society. This painting has a strong dark and light or value pattern .The dark shapes have a luminous quality created by glazing color over color. We are able to see the underlying colors through the final glazes.
Cheng-Khee Chee won the second place award for Koi 2008 No. 1. He achieves his soft edges by laying a dark or multicolored wash over the entire paper and then lifting the color from the light shapes and introducing the colors of the koi while the paper is still wet. The scales on the koi are created by using templates or stencils.
Nancy Goldman’s third place-winning Paradise Lost I draws the viewer into the painting by an unusual use of subject matter and design. The beautifully rendered fruit captures our imagination while we wonder about the artist’s message.
Riverside has always been important to Watercolor West. Some of the founding members were, and still are members of the Riverside art community. Once a small local organization, Watercolor West has grown into an international organization with members and entrants from all over the world.
Watercolor West came into being because the majority of watercolor exhibitions had become water media exhibitions. There is only one other national art organization that focuses entirely on transparent watercolor. Many of the participating artists work in non-transparent mediums as well. While enjoying the beauty of all the different methods employed by water media artists, Watercolor West remains exclusively devoted to exhibiting pure transparent watercolor paintings.