The Green Mountain Watercolor Exhibition (GMWE) opened its 10th annual showing at the Red Barn Galleries on June 19. As in past years, the 2022 edition is an open show without a centralized theme. The open show allows the artist to submit work without the restriction of a theme. If one were to place a label or theme on the show, “Fresh and Diverse” could aptly be applied.
The 108 paintings eligible for awards each have a personality of their own. This immediately becomes evident upon entering the exhibition where one is greeted by four award-winning paintings each executed with a different technique of paint application as well as of subject matter. “Chickens” is a large-scale painting by Cindy Brabec-King (Palisades, CO) that is filled with luscious colors and rich textures and worthy of a lengthy observation. The painting plays beautifully against the small, almost miniature, monochromatic painting “Leafed Pear” by Janet Laird-Lagassee (Auburn, ME). Rounding out the four are an unusually proportioned painting of a sailboat by Michael Ridge (Montpelier, VT) and Michael Scherfen’s (Atlantic Highlands, NJ) warm portrait “The Cavern Guide.”
Throughout the exhibition one will find paintings from 21 different states of all types of subject matter with a multiplicity of styles and techniques -- cats, flowers, portraits, oriental influenced, winter scenes, traditional landscapes and the list goes on.
The GMWE breaks from the more traditional watercolor exhibitions in two ways. Color mats surrounding work are not generally accepted in major shows. Here you will find a select few of the artists using a colored mat being more effective, as a white surround could diminish the vibrancy of a painting. The second breakaway is allowing paintings to be displayed without a glass covering. Today there are numerous methods of protecting the surface of a watercolor painting with the use of waxes and varnishes. Two paintings by Laurie Sigmund (Charlestown, MA) show the process at its best with their clarity of colors undiminished by the reflective surface of glass.
The use of synthetic papers, as opposed to the traditional cotton-based papers, is also worthy of noting. Don Taylor (Panama City, FL) is represented by two large scale paintings of the interiors of cathedrals -- one on a cotton paper surface and the second on a synthetic surface commonly known as Yupo. A pigment will not sink into the synthetic surface affording the full vibrancy of the color to come through. Gloria Chadwick (ElCajon, CA) takes full advantage of the synthetic surface in her intensely chromatic undersea paintings.
The use of gouache, opaque watercolor, is also becoming more prevalent in watercolor painting allowing artists to develop surface textures, shapes and patterns with exquisite detail. “Pink Tree Peonies” by Margaret Wilson (Marion, NY) is worthy of close-up viewing in order to experience the intricate detail and color manipulation.
The show also features a large selection of miniature paintings, none bigger than 20 square inches (4-inch x 5-inch) by members of the Whiskey Painters of America. Noteworthy are the paintings by Mick McAndrews (Downingtown, PA), Larry Fentz (Muncie, IN) and Cathy Weiner (Richfield, OH). The GMWE is the only showing of these charming and accessible paintings on the East Coast.
According to the international publication “Art Of Watercolour,” “The Red Barn Galleries in the newly restored, early 1800s barn at Lareau Farm are the ideal location to house an exhibition of this magnitude and scope. The dark, natural toned surfaces of the wooden walls are the perfect foil for displaying art. Paintings take on a vibrancy that could easily be lost hung against a traditional white wall.”
The Red Barn Galleries at Lareau Farm, Route 100, Waitsfield are open Thursday/Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Free and children are welcome.