From the Juror’s Mouth

Regardless of style or subject matter, it was the ability of a painting to make a visceral connection that made it stand out to juror Stan Kurth when he chose the winners of the Northwest Watercolor Society’s (NWWS) 83rd International Open Exhibition.

1st Place: “Talisman” (acrylic, 16×16 in.) by Christine Alfery of Lac du Flambeau, WI

Of first place winner, Talisman by Christine Alfery, he said, “This is a surrealistic beach festival, with the numerous contrasts and variety of shapes, lines, textures and colors that create movement.”

2nd Place: “Dreamer” (gouache on YUPO, 31×25 in.) by Carla O’Connor of Olalla, WA

As Carla O’Connor was presented the award for Second Place for Dreamer, she revealed that the painting had sat around for 20 years because of the model’s difficult pose. She wanted to make negative shapes positive, and combine realistic human form with non-objective. Kurth agreed. “It’s a marvelous design with the positive and negative. The painting is a totem with the gradation of colors going up. The figure imbedded in the totem is amazing, sitting with the knee up and the hand embracing it.”

3rd Place: “Fade – NYC” (watercolor 30×22 in.) by Thomas Schaller of New York, NY

The optical illusion of Thomas Schaller’s Fade – NYC caught Kurth’s interest. “Wonderful contrast of the nostalgic background and the two contemporary subjects in front with the cape draping over the adjacent chair, which is physically impossible,” he said. “It’s there for design and composition but it’s so subtle you don’t notice it right away — or the little dog underneath.” 

Purchase Award: “Searching for a Seahorse” (watercolor 24×18 in.) by Lisa Pope of Puyallup, WA

A diver with her husband, Lisa Pope had been looking for the illusive seahorse when she saw her crystal paper weight and thought, maybe I can do a still life. Of Searching for a Seahorse, winner of the Purchase Award, Kurth said, “This is a wonderful serpentine composition. The dark at the top to the light below has movement that keeps interest in the painting. It’s all intentional, right,” he mused with Pope. This painting will join others that have won the category in the a permanent collection housed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle.

Twelve other awards went to paintings that Kurth felt had a correlation between captivating content and mastery of the medium. See the flipbook of the 75 paintings chosen and a list of all winners. 

See 25+ top watercolor artists from around the world demonstrate their processes and share their best tips at Watercolor Live, January 24-26!


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