Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Friday, September 23, 2011


I've been slow on the posts lately - sorry for that.

Haven't had a lot of time to paint, too much WORK involved right now with art shows, both entering them myself and working on ViewPoint.  In fact, I've been so busy that I completely forgot to pick up a painting - that's not like me (usually, anyway!)

For those of you interested, the ViewPoint entries have been given to the judge for selection and you will be receiving your notification letters at the beginning of October. 

With another busy weekend looming, looks like I won't get any painting done again.  I'm itching to get back to complete one and re-do another - posts on both coming soon, I promise!

Hang in there!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


We all gnash our teeth when we fill out those tedious art show entry forms . . . . .
How do they want the CD labeled on the outside?
How do they want the paintings labeled on the CD?
How much do I owe?
Where do I send the CD?
How much postage do they want on my SASE?
What the heck is an SASE?
How large can my image be?
How do they want the painting framed?
What media will they accept?
Will they accept a support other than watercolor paper?
Yikes – the list can go on and on and . . . .

As the chairperson of ViewPoint for the past three years, I can tell you that those questions are important to the people running the show.

Yes, those questions vary from group to group, most likely depending on the structure of the group itself and the size of the facility where the show will be held.

For instance, if you enter TWSA, forget any Yupo or board or pastel or collage – they want straight up watercolor on watercolor paper. It’s their prerogative – the members have long ago made decisions about what kind of work they want hanging. If you don’t paint in traditional watercolor on watercolor paper, then just save yourself some grief and don’t enter that particular show. Don’t gripe if you send them something they won’t hang and complain that you didn’t make it into the show.

Another watercolor society might think Yupo is dandy and yippee for collage and ink and pastel and . . . anything goes as long as you’ve got some watermedia in there somewhere!

Well, you get the idea.

In the instance of the Cincinnati Art Club, our main consideration is space for hanging. We can take paintings taller rather than wider, so we have a rule not to accept any framed paintings over 40 inches wide, nor taller than 60 inches high. We just don’t have space for too many huge paintings. So don’t ask me a question via email or phone such as “my painting is 60 inches wide, is that too wide?” We all learned to read and follow directions in elementary school and nothing has changed since then. Wide IS wide (no matter what Bill Clinton’s definition of IS is).

I can tell you that it really and truly matters how you label your CD and your entry form. First off, be sure to write or print legibly! When you are messy and nonchalant about your entry, not only do you give the impression that you don’t care much about the entry, but I may not be able to read it, in which case I cannot enter it! If your entry is accepted, but I have trouble reading your name or the name of your painting or your address or your email, there will probably be some misspellings on the title card, program, email list, mailing list, etc.

If you fill out your entry form with titles A, B and C but then label your CD with those items in a different order, or completely fail to label the paintings on the CD, chances are your entry will be rejected. Why? Because when the entries go into the computer program, they are listed in the order you note on your entry form. If you don’t have them in the proper order, when the judge’s CD (composed of all of the entries) is created, and the judge picks your Entry A, what the judge actually just picked is a totally different painting – not the one the judge wanted. Emails or phone calls to figure out this problem (when caught) take up precious time. A good idea would be to load your CD first and then fill out your entry form with the paintings listed in the order they appear on the CD.

When you photograph your painting, do not include the frame (and not the easel or couch or step you have the painting balanced on and not your smiling spouse holding the painting for you to photograph!) The judge wants to see the painting, and only the painting. Crop out any extraneous items. And set your camera on a high resolution. Before you mail your CD, put it back into your computer and take a look at it on your screen. First off, is there actually an image there? Don’t send in a blank CD. Check to be sure that the image is clear (good resolution) and fairly represents your painting’s colors, and the image is even all the way around.

Send in your entry in a timely manner.

And, of course, it’s always about money! Be sure to send the correct entry fee amount. Some shows are a flat fee for all entries. Others, like ViewPoint, have a schedule of fees depending on how many you send in. And make the check out as specified on the entry form! Do not make the check out to the person in charge of the show – make it out to the entity running the show (i.e., to Cincinnati Art Club, not to Deb Ward!) A check made out to the wrong entity cannot be deposited, so your entry will be rejected.

Be sure to list prices for each painting and to sign the entry form, if required.

Before you call the show chairperson with a question, re-read the prospectus to make sure you have not simply overlooked the information you are going to ask about - such as where to mail the CD or how much money to send in. Trust me, that information IS on the prospectus. Most shows will give you a check list, so double check that before you make a time consuming phone call.

Last but not least – you do not need to protect your CD from a nuclear explosion. Wrapping it in 3 layers of shipping plastic sealed with duct tape inside a sturdy envelope sealed with packing tape is not necessary. You do not need to (nor do we want you to) seal each piece of the puzzle (entry form, check, CD, SASE) inside its own sealed envelope. You don’t need to mail it in a box the size of Rhode Island. On the other hand, you should protect your CD in a CD sleeve rather than just tossing it inside a large envelope where it has surely been sliding around during its transport. The SASE (SELF-ADDRESSED stamped envelope) should be made out to YOU, not me! That is my way of sending you the information you will need if your entry is accepted.

Entry packed to survive nuclear holocaust (requiring scissors or box knife to open).

Oversized entry - note size of actual CD and size of oversized envelope (which also
will require increased postage - not to mention a lot of waste - let's think "green" here, folks!
Mailing your show entry should not be the prelude to a scavenger hunt on my end. While it is good to fold your papers neatly around the CD so that they don’t get cut open as I slice open/pry apart your envelope/carton/container - don’t fold an envelope large enough to mail an elephant several times around each of the items inside so that they all fit into their own separate space. Keep it simple, folks!
Entry with "wrap around" cubbies - totally aggravating to the person who will open it!
Keep it simple, folks!!

The best way to mail, safe and inexpensive, is to purchase a CD and DVD mailer envelope (available inexpensively at Staples and, I’m sure, at many other fine office stores). It’s 5”x5”, compact and holds everything you need. It zips open on my end and is easy to locate everything inside – because there’s nowhere for any pieces to hide! And I can open it and take out the contents in 5 seconds flat! (As compared to 5 minutes trying to cut, pull and pry apart a Ft. Knox box!)
This is all you need - slip your CD into the disc envelope for protection and then
into the CD mailer - a compact 5 in. x 5 in. with zip open.

A few B A D entries:
Left - Unnecessary large box, very hard to open, too!
Center - Large envelope folded over itself - enwrapping parts of the entry.
Bottom - Large envelope with CD encompassed in bubble wrap.
I now know to sit down armed with sharp scissors and to be prepared for anything the envelope might hide!

I’m not trying to lecture you in this post.

What I’m trying to do here is make you aware that the rules you see on an art show entry are there for a reason and you should follow those rules to the letter to ensure that your entry is accepted and your masterpiece will be on view for the world to see, not tossed into the rejection box.


Sunday, September 4, 2011


There are times that we create a painting that comes out on paper just the way we saw it inside our heads. This is one of those paintings.

I had started it before our June retreat week and took it, along with the old rusty car, to work on.
After messing up the old rusty car background, a bit gun shy, I tentatively moved on to this painting.
I find that the paintings that I paint in my head, over and over, are the ones that (usually) turn out the best for me.

I spent the better part of that week working on this painting, edging right up to the last day before it was complete.

I’ve mentioned before that I paint slow, really s l o o o o w, and that watching me paint is like watching grass grow! My friends were all urging me on and were very patient with me, not making a sound during some intense moments. If you knew them, you would realize what a major feat of will power that was!!

When I returned home, the painting sat on the easel for a while as I tweaked it here and there until I finally felt there was no more I could do.

I immediately entered it into a show and hoped for the best; but I knew that if it didn’t get accepted into that show there would be others I would enter – I feel strongly that this is a very good painting.
Here it is!
Oriental Roses, 22x30, fluid acrylic on Arches watercolor paper

PS – This painting was accepted, along with All Mixed Up, into the Rising Sun (Indiana) 8th Juried Art Exhibition. There were quite a few well known and respected area artists in this show, so I felt good about being accepted. However, no award for me! Oh well! My work looked good on the wall, I saw and chatted with some folks I hadn’t seen in a while, and my husband and I had a delicious dinner with friends following the awards ceremony. All in all, a pleasant evening.