Watercolors For a Good Cause

“Sheer Awe” (watercolor, 11 x 9 in.)

Barbara Tapp grew up in Australia in the ’50s, loving cargo steam ships. “My family had a friendship with a Norwegian sea captain whose cargo ship Themis travelled the Australian coastline, transporting wheat and raw goods,” she says. “For over two decades, he would arrive once a year and we would pick him up or go aboard for dinner and twice we travelled up and down the coast as passengers. As a child, I loved the smell of the ship and standing beside the massive black steel hull, then climbing the looming gang plank aboard.”

Today, the SS Red Oak Victory, a WW11 munitions cargo ship and the last Victory ship built in 1944 by Kaiser Steel in Richmond, California, is undergoing a volunteer-based restoration. And Barbara has been invited to exhibit aboard the ship to help raise awareness of this restoration project. Thus far, she’s completed 14 paintings, and she hasn’t even made it on board yet. We’ll be keeping track of this exciting project as it progresses, but here’s a peek at a few of the first pieces in the series.

“Steel Cricket” (watercolor, 7 x 7 in.)

“A huge Whirley Crane used in construction of the Victory ships stands sentry beside the Red Oak,” says Barbara. “There is a fascinating relationship of scale between both manmade structures, and there is a dialogue between form and rigging that creates interesting geometric shapes and patterns.”

“Funnel Versus Crane” (watercolor, 7.5 x 10.5 in.)
“Big Red” (watercolor, 7 x 8 in.)

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.


  1. I’m looking for a wonderful article Alvaro castegnet wrote for your newsletter and lost it, can you send to me.
    Thank you.


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