American Watercolor Society

Number one on my career bucket list: CHECK

“Moored-Castine” acrylic on paper, 18″ x 18″

I’ve always had what some might consider a convoluted strategy in working toward career goals: start at the top. The strategy paid off this year when I was accepted into the 150th American Watercolor Society international exhibition as a signature member. This is number one on my career bucket list. It goes without saying how proud I am to have reached this goal and how honored I am to be a member of such a prestigious and internationally significant organization.

In order to obtain signature status an artist must be accepted into two previous exhibitions. Signature members are selected by an appointed jury and their selection must be unanimous. This year’s acceptance brought my total to four. I was gratified to win an award the first time I was accepted. To be honest, I had tried for signature membership before, but was unsuccessful. It pays to persevere.

“Artists can apply for the status of Signature Member when they have demonstrated great skill and a consistent style over time. Signature membership is a monumental achievement that essentially groups the artist with such notable members as Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and many more. This year’s artists are contributing to a longstanding tradition.”
Anne Stoppelbein, Nashville Arts Magazine, March 2017

Top-Down Strategy

The strategy is very simple: focus on the pinnacle goal first while simultaneously submitting to regional, state and local competitions. If I started entering only on these levels it could possibly take longer to obtain my goal (just an assumption on my part). But, if I focus on entering the top national/international exhibitions consistently, I could obtain the goal sooner. The strategy worked. I’ve been fortunate to win awards at all levels in addition to reaching my top career goal!

I’m in no way belittling the value of other competitions which are organized and run by very dedicated men and women across the country. Quite the opposite. The growth of watermedia in this country would be greatly minimized if not for these talented and tireless individuals. And, like I say, I’m just tryin’ to make small talk.


Next up: focus and work toward signature membership in the National Watercolor Society.


The American Watercolor Society’s sole purpose is “to promote the art of watercolor painting in America.” Today, AWS has broadened its scope by including other watermedia such as acrylic, casein, gouache and egg tempera on paper. I don’t know the growth numbers, but allowing other watermedia, I would assume, has broadened the AWS base considerably. For decades now, AWS has also extended opportunities to painters outside the United States by accepting international entries for the annual exhibition.


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