A Summer of Watercolor: Part III

Marianne Graff

The PebbleCreek Art Club is happy to resume its exhibition of A Summer of Watercolor. In Parts I and II, we presented a brief history of watercolor painting, a discussion of the tools and special features unique to this medium and pictured five PebbleCreek artists who work inside and outside the boundaries of the watercolor tradition.

Watercolor painting in the United States has a fascinating history. At the 150th anniversary celebration of the American Watercolor Society, Maureen Bloomfield, member of Artists Network and editor of The Artists Magazine, quoted the inspiring words of Joseph Raphael, “The flow of water is emblematic of a vital force. Watercolor expresses flow, life as transparency, the ineffable, the transient air, motion, life moving. Watercolor itself is a force of nature.” She designated watercolor as the medium used in such varied locations as the Lascaux Caves in France about 15,000 B.C., the Knossos Palace on Crete circa 1450 B.C., the Book of Kells by Colomban monks in Ireland around 800 A.D., and the Claricia Psalter by German Benedictine nuns of the 12th century.

More recently, “Watercolor painting became popular in the United States during the 19th century; outstanding early practitioners included John James Audubon,” who used the medium to document the natural world, especially many types of American birds “as well as early Hudson River School painters such as William H. Bartlett and George Harvey.” [Wikipedia] Before the Civil War, watercolor was made a popular medium by engineers, travelers, commercial artists, scientists and naturalists. But by 1881, watercolor was “the toast of New York. Within 50 years, many of the most lauded and adventurous American artists were watercolorists.” [Kathleen Foster: cited by Bloomfield]. Bloomfield highlighted three important artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Winslow Homer, known for the power and drama of his seascapes, also produced dazzling watercolors of his travels; John Singer Sargent, who after achieving fame in Britain and the United States as a portraitist, began to do travel studies in watercolor and eventually became celebrated for his watercolors in London and New York; and Andrew Wyeth, a realist and regionalist and one of the best-known painters of the mid-20th century, who produced watercolors of his rural surroundings and the people who lived on nearby farms and villages. [H. Barbara Weinberg]

This month’s featured PebbleCreek artists carry on this notable tradition in a variety of styles and subjects as illustrated in the three watercolors Flower Drama painted by Janet Nagl; Vase and Flower by Thea Smith and Big Blue by Judy Caruthers. You are invited to view these and other works by PebbleCreek watercolor artists in the Creative Arts Center and the Tuscany Falls and Eagle’s Nest Clubhouses.