Juror Comments: July Member Show

To help San Diego Watercolor Society members understand more about the jury process, SDWS asks jurors for comments.  Please remember these are informal comments to provide insight into the juror’s evaluation process.  They should be considered just another data point, the same way that demonstrating artists make comments on their process or methods. 

The July Member Show “Fruitful Directions” was juried by award-winning artist, Chuck McPherson, NWS/WFWS/SDWS. You will want to see this gorgeous show in person! Paintings will be in the gallery and available for purchase both at the gallery and online until July 27, 2019.

Chuck is a well-known, award-winning artist working in watercolor, mixed medium, acrylic, and oil paints. He is a Listed Artist and has shown in institutions like the Oceanside Museum of Art, the California Center for the Arts Escondido, the San Diego Museum of Art, and fine galleries like The San Diego Watercolor Society and Ashton Gallery in North Park. He was recently recognized as one of the Top 50 watercolorists in the world by the Global Association of Watercolor Artists (GAWA).

Chuck has garnered hundreds of awards for his paintings, earning triple Signature status with the National Watercolor Society, the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, and The San Diego Watercolor Society. He served as Third VP on the NWS Board, two years as the Member Shows Director on the SDWS Board, 1st VP on the Foothills Art Association Board, plus a three-year stint as Newsletter Chair on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild.When he isn’t involved with workshops, demonstrations, and “paintformances”, he enjoys teaching and mentoring.

General Comments:

I’m really proud that the San Diego Watercolor Society puts out a fresh show every month that rivals any high-profile show’s quality.

Composition and narrative are what it’s all about for me. When jurying, I’m looking for the immediate emotional impact, rather than pure technical skill. I want the artist to carry the viewer along, then let them fill in the rest.

I like to look at paintings upside down to check the composition. If it’s a strong composition, it will look good in any direction. I treat every painting as if it’s an abstract to evaluate that strength.

Many artists don’t go far enough with their value shifts – usually 0 to 70%. This can leave paintings lacking the dynamic they’re capable of. I like to see a significant value shift towards a true dark of 100%. Another thing I look for are tangents. A shape or line that runs adjacent to another will flatten a space, or the subject may be too close to the edge of the painting, creating a lack of depth. Don’t lead your viewer out of, or trap them inside, the picture plane.

Note to Members – please pay attention to presentation. How a painting is matted and framed is very important. The mat should generally be 1.5 times the width of the frame. When the mat is the wrong color or the frame is distracting, that is a problem.


First Place, Somewhere in Point Loma, Kay Smith

This is an example of a painting harkening back to the traditional watercolor style, like works by Jim Millard and June Maxion. The value contrast is exquisite. Regarding the composition – there’s no place in this painting where the eye gets “trapped” – it keeps you entertained and moving. I like how the foreground boat leads you into the dock and around to the background vegetation. This is clearly a very skilled compositionalist.


Second Place, Bottles and Apples, Susan Weinberg-Harter

This is an example of a small painting holding its own amongst larger artworks. The color and composition are very good. I wish the perspective of the bowl was curved, because the straight line stops the eye, but it’s still a very strong painting. The blend of the color in the fruit is lovely. I enjoy the square format and encourage other painters to work in unusual formats.


Third Place, Said the Raven to the Crow, Bonnie Rinier

I love the textural effect – it almost looks like the first layer of fiberglass. For balance and more “narrative”, there could be a strong red berry across from the crow. The space feels like Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World.” Unfortunately, the way this painting is matted, the tail was cropped off which cuts the painting in half spatially.


Best of Theme, Dancing with the Tapestry of Life, Sheila Greer

Fruitful Directions – it’s a wide-open title. This painting moves into the space. I love that the artist leads us up the flow of the skirt to the head of the figure. I really like the narrative of the diagonal. The value contrast is very strong. The fact that there’s cheesecloth involved as a texture gives us another level to enjoy the painting. The silver pattern in the skirt, which I’m assuming is machined or applied, really helps make the painting Best of Theme.


Best of Miniatures, Teapot Still Life, Susan Weinberg-Harter

I admire people who work on Yupo. Being able to master the subject matter on this slick surface is impressive. Some of the items are out of proportion, but that doesn’t bother me. I love how loose it is. The strong value on the teapot is important. It does bother my eye that the outside lemons are on a tangent with the edge of the paper — it flattens the image. And they form a yellow tightrope cutting right through the middle of the painting, which is not ideal compositionally.


Honorable Mention Miniatures, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, Caron Carpenter

Although small, this painting has excellent composition and it’s very well painted. I love the play of light. It’s not over-worked. It’s a very difficult subject to portray in a small format. I love the fact that this painting has a Golden Section (square on left and rectangle beneath another small square).

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