What Makes a Winning Painting?

Introducing the 75 paintings he selected for the Northwest Watercolor Society’s (NWWS) 81st International Open Online Exhibition, juror Thomas W. Schaller explained his criteria for picking work to showcase. “Judging work is an honor but it is extremely difficult,” he said. “There has to be the artistic impulse, an electric jolt of intent that is the umbrella. Then the composition of shapes, the value range and the colors that carry emotional weight are orchestrated to create an experience and a dialog with the viewer. The painting makes you ask questions.”

The awards reception was recorded and can be seen for free here. 

“Without Reason” by Lance Hunter

Of his 1st place pick, Lance Hunter’s “Without Reason,” Schaller said: “The beautiful elongated format with a busy background illuminates the skin tones and drapery of the gown. The drapery alone is worth hours of study.”

“Fishing Port” by Tiantian Ji

He awarded 2nd place to Tiantian Ji for “Fishing Port,” saying, “I can feel myself standing there. This is an admirable painting in contrasts – what is there and what is not there. This is a whispered experience.”

“Riding the Waves” by Lynda Hoffman-Snodgrass

Of 3rd place winner, “Riding the Waves” by Lynda Hoffman-Snodgrass of Phoenix, Schaller said, “There’s a sense of life and energy in this painting that is so beautifully watercolor — the wet-on-wet, lost edges, the shapes, and brush marks.”

Twelve other awards of cash and merchandise were also awarded.  Schaller, who is an NWWS signature member among his many memberships, including American Watercolor Society (AWS) and National Watercolor Society (NWS), said of NWWS that it is “the most engaged [of watercolor societies]. You care about the arts, artists, and art education together to make something very unique.”

The exhibition is free for viewing online now through January 4, 2022.

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