About The San Diego Watercolor Society

SDWS enjoys a beautiful, inspirational setting in
The Arts District Liberty Station

The San Diego Watercolor Society facility includes a gallery, an education center for workshops and classes, and a reference and instructional library for watermedia artists.

Mission Statement  To be an ongoing recognized leader in expanding the appreciation of and involvement in watermedia painting through member instruction, exhibition, community education and promotion.

Purpose  To promote water-based media on paper by sponsoring Member Shows, an International Exhibition, and holding workshops and painting demonstrations.  To encourage students, viewers, and artists of all ages to become involved in watermedia on paper and the San Diego Watercolor Society.




Formed in 1965, The San Diego Watercolor Society (SDWS) is a broad-based nonprofit art organization promoting the appreciation of and involvement in watermedia painting.  Its charter members formed a focus on establishing an organization that would meet its goals of promoting watermedia art through the volunteerism of its members.  They were forward thinking and expanded the organization from an initial 16 members to nearly 700 and from meeting in a community room in a library to a facility with 4,000 square feet and an education center that is the setting for frequent workshops given by nationally recognized watermedia artists.  Today, nearly 50 years later, with its dedicated all-volunteer staff, SDWS operates a major gallery and education center located in The Arts District Liberty Station in the Point Loma area of San Diego.

SDWS provides a wide array of services and activities that benefit the nearly 700 members and the public.  Some of the Society’s offerings include a member juried art exhibit each month, an extensive art library, and a full program of workshops and class instruction.  Monthly meetings with demonstrations by nationally known artists are open to both members and nonmembers. Weekly informally led paint outs and monthly organized plein air painting sessions with a lead artist demonstrator provide other opportunities to participate in SDWS activities. 

We are also devoted to arts education for all ages.  As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, the SDWS Education Committee currently has four main programs:  Community Outreach for Youth and Seniors, Liberty School, Military Family Arts Program, and Adult Beginner Watercolor Workshops.

Best in Show 2012 International Exhibition
Artist: Ruth Ellen Hoag. Title: "Retrospective"

The International Exhibition
For over three decades, SDWS has been proud to host its yearly International Exhibition which attracts hundreds of entries from acclaimed artists worldwide.  Well-known artists are invited to jury the exhibit, and accepted artists are honored to participate.  This significant exhibit is one of the highlights of the year for SDWS.  A gala reception for members, artists, and the public is held at the SDWS gallery in October, and hundreds of visitors view the exhibit during the month.

Signature Membership is available to artists who have been accepted at least three times in the annual SDWS International Exhibition and who consistently maintain their membership after acquiring Signature status.  This designation allows artists to include SDWS as part of their signature on their art.
Inspiration is a key element to the artistic process. Ask almost any artist what inspired him or her to become an artist, they will most likely tell you about a painting or the work of some artist or teacher they were exposed to as they grew up. Many times it is the viewing of one single piece painted by someone who was gone before they were born or maybe it was a more contemporary artist. The value of these moments is celebrated by SDWS by offering a webpage providing continuing inspiration called, "The World Of Water Media". It is our hope that we all may view these frequently changing images of great work and find inspiration for their next creation or their first creation.