((L-R) Raven Steals The Light by Rebecca Sentgeorge, Fractured Reflections by Kathleen Buck, Sea Garden by Linda Burgel and Larkspur & Sunflowers by Winnie Givot)
The Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) is a nonprofit with around 600 registered members that is dedicated to furthering the creation and appreciation of water media. WSO was founded in 1966 with 38 original members, and only accepted experienced water media artists who were willing to submit their work for review.
Now, the organization accepts water media artists of all skill levels. The WSO’s past president and current volunteer coordinator Winnie Givot said, “There is an immense benefit to allowing amateur and learning artists into the organization, to be inspired and collaborate with more experienced artists.”
The WSO will be hosting an art show at Hood Avenue Art Gallery on Sisters’ Fourth Friday Art Walk celebration. The gallery will be open for viewing until April 24. The gallery will be a special one, where selected WSO members will be sharing some of their recent work. According to Winnie, the show is rather select, and will feature between 20 and 25 paintings.
“This gallery will give people the chance to see what water media can really be,” Winnie said. “Watercolor painting has a much larger range than most people realize.”
The gallery will feature paintings that showcase the spectrum of techniques contained within water media; very exact and detailed work, loose and flowy abstraction and rich dark tones that dance in contrast to lighter brush strokes, along with plenty more.
Guests can expect to see a variety of work, all selected from experienced and passionate Central Oregon artists. This show follows the philosophy of WSO by showcasing a variety of water media. One of the selected artists, Rebbeca Sentgeorge, said “I am especially excited that WSO is embracing more than traditional watercolors and is including all types of water media under the WSO umbrella.”
Aside from sharing unique and lesser known water media styles to the public, the galleries put on by the WSO work to fulfill their mission by allowing artists to meet, collaborate and learn from one another. Afterall, the WSO is an organization dedicated to sharing and cultivating water media, and collaboration between members is paramount to the group’s success.
“Being a member or the Watercolor Society of Oregon is like belonging to a big supportive family,” Rebecca said. “It has given me an opportunity to show my work, be a part of a critique group, and it has given me a community of artists that I can learn from, grow with and rely on.”
Another artist whose work will be appearing in the art show at Hood Avenue Art Gallery is Kathleen Buck. Kathleen said, “WSO has attracted some of the best active water-media artists in Oregon, and the organization encourages learning multiple aspects of being an artist, while having fun with friends. In its twice-yearly competitions and conventions, we can all renew old friendships and make new ones. Even the most experienced painters can pick up pointers from their peers, while having fun visiting different cities throughout Oregon.”
On the topic of WSO providing community, Winnie said, “Painting can be a solitary occupation, so to get together with other people who share that passion is always wonderful. To see the show and to go and meet all these artists practicing so many new techniques is always amazingly inspirational.”
While promoting community and collaboration is very important to the WSO, the organization and its members understand that financial support can make a huge difference for emerging and experienced artists. From this understanding, the organization founded the WSO 100 Club in 1984. With the purpose of establishing, growing and managing both the Awards Endowment Fund and the Education Fund, the WSO 100 Club plays a role in financially supporting water media artists in Oregon.
To support their members, the Awards Fund exists to provide cash awards to the winners of WSO conventions, which are held twice a year all across Oregon. The Education Fund exists separately with the purpose of providing WSO members access to workshops, classes and other opportunities to further their skills with water media.
In the coming years, the WSO will continue to host galleries, twice-yearly conventions and overall, support the cultivation of water media across Oregon. To support the WSO, consider donating, becoming a member yourself or start by attending the art show at Hood Avenue Art Gallery from March 24 to April 24.