nav-left cat-right

Watercolor Societies

– September 2010 Studio News Blog by OM Braida –

Dear Friends:

This has been a very fruitful summer for me and I hope that you have found it to be so as well.  Gearing up for the school year students are already starting to email and ask various questions.  One question that comes up time and again is about the value of joining different art societies.  Many of my friends and students belong to the American Society of Botanical Artists, the Florida Society of Botanical Artists, and the other chapters of the ASBA.  They also belong to the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.  These societies offer an arena for botanical artists to exchange ideas and exhibit their art; but what about other types of art societies? Many scientific illustrators and botanical artists do not join or exhibit in these venues because the old “stigma” that botanical art is not “fine or contemporary” art.  Well, we simply must get that idea out of our heads!

Just this month I had a wonderful conversation with the folks at the largest USA national watercolor society: The National Watercolor Society which was started in 1929.  The oldest and second largest watercolor group in the United States is The American Watercolor Society founded in 1866. The largest state Watercolor Society is the Florida Watercolor Society.

Students from various parts of the world attending our Academy Distance Learning Program will be pleased to note that there are watercolor societies around the world.  The Royal Watercolour Society, based at the Bankside Gallery in London, is the oldest watercolor society in the world founded in 1806. The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours (RSW) is a Scottish organization of painters. It was founded in 1876,

Every state in the United States has a watercolor society.  There are also watercolor societies in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America. Here are four websites listing watercolor societies.  They will help you locate your local society.

Now getting back to my very pleasant discussion with the National Watercolor Society I learned they are quite receptive to botanical art and explained that in fact there were several botanical artists whose work was juried into their exhibits.  Their informative website states that their “the goals of the National Watercolor Society are to encourage interest and excellence in watermedia paintings by providing quality exhibitions and to act as an educational channel to pertinent information, exhibition opportunities, and beneficial programs to artists and their public. In addition, NWS sponsors programs to encourage and assist education in the arts.  It might be too late to participate in their upcoming 90th Annual Exhibit October 30 – December 11, 2010 with over $25,000 in Purchase, Cash and Merchandise Awards – but visit their website and learn more about them for next time.

As you begin to explore these prestigious organizations you will learn that many have two types of member levels.  For example, the National Watercolor Society offers the coveted “Signature Membership.”  Additionally, it has an active support group in its Associate members. You may join by paying yearly dues, which entitles you to the same privileges as Signature Members with the exception of using the NWS initials after your name, holding the Board position of President or one of the Vice-Presidents, or voting at the annual business meeting. Artists desiring Signature membership in the National Watercolor Society are selected from entries in the Annual Exhibition held in the Fall of each year.    This organization is based in California but have very large membership in Florida and Texas.  To learn more about them visit their informative website:

The American Watercolor Society, that boasts such members as Andrew Wythe (July 12, 1917 – January 16, 2009), similarly offers both Signature and Associate Memberships. And in addition, offer the Dolphin Fellowship and the Dolphin Award.

All Members of the Royal Watercolour Society are elected on merit in a tradition reaching back almost two hundred years. New Members are elected by the current Membership of the Society based on the quality of their work alone. Elected members are free to use the “RSW” letters after their name.

We all dislike rejection, but it is important to learn what others are doing and get a new and different voice of appreciation about your work.  Trying new exhibits in different locals is a breath of fresh air not only to you but to the audience that those venues attract.  I wish you all success in locating new avenues of expression and look forward to hearing news of your experience.  I’m sure our readers would love to hear about the ins and outs of venturing into unknown territory.  Bon voyage!  God bless.

Comments are closed.