St. Andrews 2022 Show and Sale
Award WinnersStatement by Judge Jennifer Kahn Barlow
It has been an honor to judge this year’s Potomac Valley Watercolorists' St. Andrews Show and Sale. Judging this show was a challenging task, as the artwork was outstanding; however, as I was asked to award prizes, I used the following criteria: quality of artistic rendering, uniqueness, emotional response, in that order.
While I am not formally a watercolor artist, I have been an artist and art student for most of my life. My studies and practice have taught me there are certain foundational elements to great, effective art. These fundamentals include quality of artistic rendering, value of color, composition, line work, and movement. This year’s show demonstrates that each Potomac Valley Watercolorist understands all these key ingredients. I was blown away by the quality of the work which demonstrated all these artistic staples. The composition of Karen Norman’s “My Father’s Key” (Memorial Award) leads your eye through a phenomenally rendered painting with various textures, giving pause between the objects. In Cecilia Capestany’s “Songbirds of the Andes” (Delaware Water Color Society Award) the balance of the strong colors, especially with the exquisite turquoise, and delicate line work, made for an overall strong composition and painting.
Once the mastery of artistic rendering was chosen, I narrowed down based on uniqueness. Uniqueness does not refer to subject matter, but something special that sets the painting apart from the crowd. It could have been a different technique, vantage point, unusual color, or shape of the composition. Leigh Culver’s “Wild Meadow” (Second Place Award) not only showed mastery of color to create depth, it also had almost stencil like quality to the negative white spaces, which I found intriguing. Jane Thomas’ “Nancy” (Baltimore Watercolor Society Award) showed its own uniqueness in composition. “Nancy” was so beautifully painted and so full of life, like you could hear Nancy laughing, yet 1/3 of the canvas was blank. That large amount of negative space made the painting more powerful.
Since all artwork is completely subjective (please always keep that in mind) the next criteria I focused on was my own emotional response. We all make art to share a piece of ourselves with the world. Viewers can see that artwork and understand a bit more of the artists vantage point, cultural filters, and state of mind. When a piece of artwork elicits an emotional response in the viewer, an effective and powerful understanding happens. Jeanne McIntyre’s “The Sister’s Visit” (Third Place Award) was one of the most powerful pieces of art in the show. The longer I stared at the painting, the more I could see the raw emotion in these two sisters reuniting, after what seemed like a long time apart. With art being subjective we are drawn to things we love and as an oil painter who is inspired by food, I was immediately drawn to Katherine Sullivan’s “Root of the Matter” (First Place Award). While the subject matter might have first whistled to my brain for attention, it really was the overall painting that was inspired. From far away the painting looked like a vintage photograph, but as you got closer and closer the abstract textures and shapes came to light. The rendering was so 3-dimensional, that the vantage point of the bundle of carrots appeared to turn in space. The depth and variation of color were also so impressive, as there was not a large range in hue.