Thursday, March 23, 2017


How long have you been a member of the GCWS and why did you join?
I have been a member since 2015.  I joined as part of my desire to reach out from my private interest in watercolor and begin to network and see what kind of watercolor community existed in Cincinnati.  After being part of an on-line watercolor group for years, I wanted to meet with people in my area.

Have you held any positions with the GCWS; if so, what positions?
I am only just recently installed as Secretary of GCWS.
Rodney's Grill
 What are some of your artistic achievements?
Ohio Watercolor Society Show 2015 – Award of Distinction
Ohio Watercolor Society Show 2016 – OWS Choice Award
Pennsylvania Watercolor Society Show 2015 – Philadelphia Reciprocal Award
Pennsylvania Watercolor Society Show 2016 – Juror’s Award and People’s Choice Award
Pennsylvania Watercolor Society – Signature Status 2016
Kentucky Aqueous Show 2015 – Purchase Award - Brown – Forman Award
Kentucky Aqueous Show 2016
Art Comes Alive Show 2016 – Watercolor Artist of the Year
Viewpoint 48 Show 2016
2015 Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society Show – 2nd Place
2016 Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society Show – Not eligible for Award
2017 Transparent Watercolor Society of America Show
Shady Nook
 Describe your usual procedures for creating a painting.
I typically try to spend time in certain environments to “hunt” for images.  My favorite environments have been, rural settings, urban settings and off the typical beaten path.  I find interest in gritty, real scenes that no one else find interesting or beautiful.  I look for unique relationships, images, compositions and most importantly, stories that need to be told.  The places I look evolves over time and as my interest moves from subject to subject.  Sometimes I am in the right place at the right time.  For me, it’s about finding and seeing.  I often find multiple images that I combine together as I try to pull the story together in a composition.  I will edit images, change lighting or in some cases, invent elements to complete the scene.
Barn Cats

How long have you been painting?
I have been painting in watercolor regularly for the past 15 years.  I have been seriously painting in watercolor for almost 10 years.
The Onion Cat
In what medium, other than watercolor or acrylic, do you work?
In the past as an architectural illustrator, I have worked in gouache.  I also dabbled in oils and acrylics many years ago.  I do not currently work in any other media.

Where do you get your inspiration for paintings?
As I mentioned, I like to find my inspiration in the backwater of society or in older, forgotten parts of our world.  I already know what is pretty and beautiful in the world.  I can’t compete with our creator as he reveals his creation to us.  I seek to find stark reality and-in-your face images that have their own power and resonance.
Vermont Stream
Are you a teacher?
Officially, no but as I have been able to learn from so many people far and wide, I am glad to share what I know with anyone in a conversation.  Everyone can teach and learn from those they come into contact with.

Where do you see yourself in the future?  (i.e., is painting a hobby; will you enter shows; do you see yourself teaching?)
Since becoming an empty nester, I thought that I could use watercolor as a new frontier for me to explore.  Whether it’s just as a hobby or as something more.  I am concentrating on casting my net as far as I can and absorbing as much as I can.  I want to meet the masters of the medium and learn where they came from and how they think.  I want to find new sources of inspiration.  I want to explore new shows.  Ultimately, I want to keep my enthusiasm for watercolor moving in an inspired and progressive direction.  As Dr. Seuss once said, “Oh the Places You’ll Go !”

Is there anything else you would like for us to know about you and your art?

I would like to think that my journey is not just for myself.  I have met many wonderful people and that is what keeps me going.  I look forward to new experiences and vistas.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


March Program – Deb Ward
Fluid Acrylics as Watercolor
March 1, 2017
Deb Ward
Claudia Taylor, Program Chair, introduced Deb Ward, our presenter for the March meeting.  Deb is from Indiana.  She started working in watercolors in the mid 1990’s.  She began teaching her craft in 2004.   As part of this teaching, she holds seasonal classes for the Cincinnati Recreational Commission.  She also teaches in workshops that she holds at her Indiana home.  She has been the Viewpoint chair and is a past President of the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society.  Deb has her Signature Status in multiple watercolor societies such as Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and the Hoosier Salon.  She has been juried into shows of these societies as well as the National Watercolor Society Show.  She has been published in Artist Magazine, Watercolor Artist Magazine and Acrylic Works among others.
Deb explains the technique used in one of her paintings (Poured Yupo Peony)
featured in the book AcrylicWorks 2

Deb began working with fluid acrylics several years ago and subsequently was asked by the manufacturers of Chroma brand acrylics to test drive their product.  She has found that she really enjoys working with this variation of the watercolor approach to her paintings.  One of the biggest differences in her handling of fluid acrylics versus traditional watercolors is that she uses watercolors in a traditional manner; whites are created by leaving the paper unpainted.  In her watercolors, black is also usually mixed from a variety of color mixes.  However, when she uses fluid acrylics she does use white in varying degrees of opacity, from a thin glaze to full white accents.  While she may still mix black, as she does in watercolor, she will also use black directly as a tint or full color in fluid acrylics.

Fluid Acrylics are similar to watercolor in that they can be applied in glazes, which is the process of layering applications of color to build up the overall effect.  In fluid acrylics, the process works from light to dark, which is also similar to watercolor.  The difference in this process is that once the fluid acrylic glaze or color application is dry, it cannot be rewetted, lifted or modified in any way, as one can in watercolor.

Deb illustrated her application of fluid acrylics by showing us an in progress painting she is working on with the fluid acrylics.  Deb is unabashedly in love with working in great detail.  Her portfolio is filled with exotic still life paintings where she composes interesting elements against very beautiful and textural fabrics and patterns.

Deb uses a variety of references in her work.  She gave a good piece of advice in that if one uses a “product” within a painting, one must get permission in writing.  As Deb finalizes her compositions, she will transfer varying parts of her painting onto her paper by enlarging her photo images and transferring the line work.

When applying fluid acrylics, it is important to remember that fluid acrylic color holds as they appear as wet, whereas watercolor typically dries lighter than it appears when wet.  Acrylic resin holds pigment color due to its binder.  Acrylics can easily be glazed over with other colors.  Acrylics can be applied as thin or heavy as desired.  As Deb works during her painting process, she often sprays her palette of colors with water in order to keep the acrylic paints workable.  Since she can’t reconstitute the colors by rewetting, Deb keeps a record of color mixes and dried examples of colors that she is using in her current painting so she can recreate colors in her painting palette.  Deb has observed that some fluid acrylics appear to granulate.

Deb will evaluate the composition of the painting she is working on in order to determine the order of her painting process.  She will often paint parts of the background first so she can measure the impact of her foreground elements against the background.  She will also utilize liquid miskit to help control the edges of lighter elements or areas.  Deb has noticed that some acrylics are thicker or different consistency than others.  She admits that she has learned this through trial and error and experimenting.

During her painting process Deb explains that she has dedicated some of her paint brushes to acrylic use.  Once a brush has been used for acrylics, it cannot be used for watercolors again.  Deb cautions that it is very important to stay aware of the dryness of paint on one’s brush during the painting process.  Acrylic paint needs to be cleaned from the brush immediately after use.  Once it dries, the brush is finished.  A tip from one of the club members, Helmut Kientz, suggests using Purell to help clean brushes is very effective.  Deb uses a brush made by the Silver Brush Company, called “Black Velvet.  This brush is a mix of synthetics and squirrel hair.
Deb stated that acrylic additive mediums can be used with fluid acrylics.  Fluid Acrylics can be broken down to a 100:1 dilution and the paint will still adhere.  Different fluid acrylic brands can be mixed together without any detriment.  The range of fluid acrylic colors matches the range of colors available in watercolor.

As Deb continued working on her painting, she showed a variety of techniques.  She applied paint color directly in a “drawing with a brush” application.  She also utilized a sponge to dapple her color in order to simulate the fabric texture.  She applied color wet-in wet for her egg shapes.  She did confirm that acrylic colors can result in “blooms” when working wet-in-wet, if one tries to apply color before it is dry.
Deb emphasizes that as in watercolor, when working with thin acrylic glazes, one needs to do a lot of pre-planning to organize the process of layering the glaze colors.  Deb explained that she also pours with fluid acrylics, although she pours selectively with a spotter in controlled areas, saving whites with miskit or tape.  Deb encourages glazing as a wonderful way to introduce depth in color within a painting.  Shadows in paintings should be created by utilizing a mix of colors that are already present in the painting, so they don’t stand out or look foreign to the color palette.  Deb extolls the use of “dirty” water to help cut the brightness of a color or whites.  She also likes to mix her own grays/blacks.  One of her “go to” mixes is Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber.

It was enjoyable to watch Deb work through her process of painting incredibly detailed yet freshly engaging colorful paintings, that are her hallmark.  We also learned a lot about the similarities and differences between watercolor and fluid acrylics.  Thanks Deb.

Deb then spent time critiquing paintings that members brought in for her review.  All members are welcome to bring paintings in for Critique at the conclusion of each monthly meeting.

Submitted by Tom Schroeder, GCWS Secretary

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society
Meeting Notes          
10:00 am March 1, 2017

President Kathy Lang called meeting to order, welcoming all members back to our regular monthly meetings for the 2017 Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society.  Heavy rains in the morning slightly “dampened” the attendance for the March meeting.  Water was definitely the theme for the day and those that weathered the drive were rewarded as Deb Ward helped us learn about “fluid” acrylics.

We had three guests in attendance:  Connie Detmer, who recently moved to the Cincinnati area from Wilmington, Delaware, likes to do botanical painting;  Ginny Tilbury, from Batavia also came to visit; Lynn Elzey was also in attendance.

Treasurer Carol Fencl provided the report on our club finances.  As we start this year, we inherit the condition from the previous year, which resulted in a few more expenses than our reported income.  Our current balance is replenishing itself as we receive the membership fees from members.  Carol reported that the Mary Marxen Scholarship Fund, which funds our student scholars from the Art Academy each year, has been depleting.  This topic was discussed during the Leadership Meeting.  It was proposed that we reduce the scholarship to a single recipient in the coming years until we increase our base revenue or an alternate avenue of funding this scholarship.  The club would like to reach out to the membership for a volunteer to take over the role of Treasurer as Carol will be acting in that position through April’s meeting. 

Lydia Rittinger, our Membership chair reported that there will be no membership books published this year.  The club can save this expense by emailing an electronic copy of the membership information to all members’ email addresses.  For those that are not able to receive emails, simple 8 1/2x11 hard copies of the membership information will be made available for those who wish hard copies.  Lydia also encouraged all members to fill out the information forms that she sent out to everyone to update information and allow us to feature more of our members on the blog.

There were many announcements made by members at this meeting:
  • ·         Tom Schroeder had his painting, “Cohiba Boneyard”, accepted into the 2017 Transparent Watercolor Society of America Exhibition, which is held in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  The dates for the show are May 6 thru August 6.
  • ·         Judy Doyle had a painting accepted into Art Calendar contest and will be published in the Calendar.
  • ·         Deb Ward had her painting, “Silver Harvest” juried into the 2017 Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition.  The dates for the show are March 11 thru April 28.
  • ·         The Queen City Art Club is currently running a show at the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center, which ends at March 29th.  Club members Dot Burdin, Judy Reed and Roger Ross are displaying pieces in the show.
  • ·         Maple Knoll has a show for residents starting at the end of March.
  • ·         Deb Ward announced that if you want your painting to be included into club brochures, please send a digital copy to her.
  • ·         Deb also invited anyone that wishes to be a featured artist for blog to send pictures and information to her.
  • ·         It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of club members, Nancy Shaw, Barb Pryor and Janet Vennemeyer.
  • ·         Joan Ammerman will not be returning to the Club due to illness.
  • ·         Jean Soller (Postcards-FILLED), Joyce Grothaus (Secretary-FILLED), Dot Burdin (Student Scholarship), Dianna Duncan (Workshop) and Carol Fencl (Treasurer) are all phasing out of their Club Leadership roles.  People are needed to fill their spots as indicated.

The Club Leadership Team met in February to review a number of Club issues and report the following to the membership:
  • ·         The Club will collect a $5 fee for those wishing to participate in pizza lunch during after meeting painting sessions.
  • ·         The Annual Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society Exhibition will again be held at The Barn in Mariemont.  The reception will be held on Aug. 6th reception.  As usual Club members are invited to provide refreshments for the Reception.  The Club will conduct their August monthly meeting on August 2nd.  It was proposed that this year’s meeting will feature a presentation by the Mary Marxen Student Scholarship winner.  After the presentation, volunteers will set and hang the show.
  • ·         This year, those that are sitting to attend the show will also be invited to paint while they sit so that visitors to the show can see the watercolor painting process in action.  It is then felt that this might be a good way to spur interest in joining the club.
  • ·         The Club is looking into providing credit card payment for visitors that wish to purchase paintings at show.
  • ·         The Club is also looking into providing background music at show.
  • ·         There will be a new fee structure for members displaying their paintings at the show.  It will cost $15 for a single entry and $20 for two entries.
  • ·         Show entries and information must be submitted no later than July 20th.  No late entries will be allowed this year.
  • ·         Paintings must be ready to hang with wires only, no alligator clips or nails.  Paintings may be glazed with plastic or glass.
  • ·         The Mary Marxen Student Scholarship, a single (1) $500 winner will be awarded at Aug. meeting.
  • ·         The Club is considering offering one evening meeting – pending discussion and presenter schedule.
  • ·         The Club will continue with monthly postcard announcements.
  • ·         December meeting will offer a craft presentation in addition to the snacks/desserts.

If anyone has any suggestions for a guest artist to host this year's Workshop, please forward them to Kathy Lang.

Program Chair, Claudia Taylor announced the following monthly speaker schedule for the upcoming 2017 calendar:
  • ·         Deb Ward and her presentation Fluid Acrylics as Watercolor, was the featured speaker at the March meeting;
  • ·         April meeting will be hosted by Rachel Wolf – book editor for North Light Books;
  • ·         May – Peggy Bishop;
  • ·         June – Heidi Hanssen;
  • ·         July – Ken Buck – watercolor w/ pastel touches;
  • ·         August -  new member TBD w/ Student Scholarship winner presentation;
  • ·         Sept. – Greg Albert – Editor for North Light Books.

See you at the next meeting on April 5th.

Submitted by Tom Schroeder, Secretary, Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society, March 2017.