Brienne Brown, NWS, was the juror for Aqueous 2020, and she provided extensive comments on how she selected the paintings that were included in the exhibition, as well as why she chose some paintings to be recognized with awards.
WVWS thought it would be helpful and interesting to create a separate gallery where Brienne’s comments could be displayed with the work. So her comments on selecting pieces for the exhibition are part of the Online Gallery, and here we share her comments on each of the award winners.
About the Award Winners — by Brienne M. Brown
Best of Show (The Artist at Rest) – I love this painting for several reasons. The design is strong, confident, and well thought-out. The position of the figure with his arm resting over the sofa, pointing towards the cat, as it circles around to his other hand towards the face of the cat, creates a circular design and makes for an interesting composition. Also, the book that is coming in from the bottom of the painting is a great lead-in for the eye as it travels through the circular design. And in this same circular pattern is the face of the figure which stands out as he is backlit from the wonderful light behind him. I love the fact that the figure is casually looking down at the cat as well. The rendering of both the face of the figure and the cat are also skillfully done. The whole painting feels unified by the quality of paint, the drawing skills, and the color choices. I also really love that the whole painting is warm except for that blue apron which is such an interesting shape and continues along the contours of the figure. This artist paid attention to the edges of the picture plane so that each edge is interesting and varied and helps support the entire design.
Award of Excellence (Touch of Mist on the Tibetan Plateau) – This is a simply beautiful painting. The paint quality and application throughout the painting is very consistent and fits the subject and mood of the painting. The colors are harmonious and unified and fit the mood as well. I love how the artist created an atmospheric perspective between the two figures by using unsaturated and lighter colors on the back figure. This was successful in really emphasizing the front figure that sets the important shapes of the painting. Also, this was beautifully rendered, and the skill of this artist’s drawing is apparent. The repetition of shapes and colors throughout the painting helps leads the eye through the various paths. Skillfully and confidently done.
Award of Excellence (Collection Reflections) – First, this painting is skillfully and confidently rendered, as well as, has fantastic paint quality which is consistent throughout the painting. What really drew me to this painting was the repetition and rhythm of all the various patterns. I love the various striped patterns of the shells and the background towels. It makes for a more unique and different still life. Also, the shadows create great lead-ins which helped to lead the eye throughout the painting. So even though the objects of the painting are within the 2-D painting frame, the towel and the shadows which come in from the edges help to strengthen this composition in design. This is a strong painting.
Award of Excellence (Best Laid Plans) – This is a fantastic abstract painting. The design is interesting, and each edge of the painting surface is important for leading the eye in through various paths to that white unfinished portion of the painting. There are so many wonderful shapes to look at and follow throughout the painting. The title is also important because it really showcases the center of interest of this piece of work, that unfinished portion. From the edges towards that center of interest there seems to be a buildup of various shapes and colors which is fun. The color harmony in the painting is also well done even though there are so many different colors here, the artist did a good job of creating unsaturated and saturated colors with balance. I could see this idea being a great series to work with. The painting is strong and to the point and nothing seems to be wasted. Every shape seems important.
Award of Merit (Building on Sand) – I really love the color harmony and composition of this painting. Even though the colors throughout the painting are beautiful and transparent they are not as intense as the pink of her swimming suit. This makes that shape stand out. I love that the pink shape of the swimming suit is almost at the edge of the painting. That decision is great. I like how the artist cropped in on the figure so that her body shape goes off 2 edges of the painting surface. This makes for a more dynamic painting because the artist has created several interesting negative spaces which are varied in size and shape and create an interesting pattern. I also love that the paint quality is consistent throughout the painting and she has a nice combination of soft and hard edges.
Award of Merit (Daisies in Blue Mason Jar) – The rendering skill of this artist stands out for sure. The artist’s attention to the details of the glass, reflections, and leaf textures are wonderful. But also, in this painting I like the connection of the white flowers and the shape that they create. Even in well rendered paintings it is important to think of design and the positive and negative shapes that you create and how they are related to each other. And this was done well with how the flower shapes were arranged. I also like that some of the leaves go off the right edge of the painting. This is a skillful painting.
Award of Merit (Adagio) – This is a great abstract painting in that it has a strong sense of pattern and variation of shape which creates a strong confident design. The artist did a great job in creating contrast of shapes and colors to create balance and interest. The small little shapes in the center of interest draw the eye from the larger shapes throughout the rest of the painting. The color choices are also particularly important in this painting. Because those bright intense colors within the center of interest area are in contrast with the larger more subdued and less intense colors throughout the rest of the painting, the eye is led to the center of interest. I would love to see this painting in person because I am sure the texture is great. I can see some of it in the photo, but it would be better in person.
Honorable Mention (Looking for a Spot) – What a fun painting! What really stands out about this painting is the composition and the color harmony. I love the lead-in of the foreground shadow which connects to the shape of the main figures. The massive green foliage in the background then leads to the tree trunk shapes which circle around to the figures on the left. The shadow of these figures and trees points us right back to the main couple in the foreground. This is nicely done. Another thing that strikes me about this painting is the color choices. This painting is full of bright colors. It is easy to get too many intense colors. However, because the front main figures in the center of interest area contains more subdued and neutral colors, it balances all the saturated colors. Also, this draws the eye because the neutral colors in the woman’s dress contrasts with the saturated colors in the painting. Quality of paint and drawing skills is consistent throughout the painting as well, which makes for a nice unified harmonious painting.
Honorable Mention (Fishing Expedition) – The limited palette on this painting is beautiful and harmonious. I love the variation of warm and cool colors throughout the painting which leads the eye in subtle ways. Even though this painting is subtle in color intensity, the design of these shapes created by the waves is thoughtfully done and helps lead the eye throughout the plane of the painting. This is an example where high key values can make for good, strong paintings. It does not always have to be about high contrast in value. If you are consistent throughout the painting and conscious of subtle changes, a painting like this can work well.
Robert and Nancy Douglas Award (Elekala Falls) – This painting has a strong design and composition, fun texture, and well thought-out color choices. The shapes created are varied from large to small with good rhythm and balance which makes for an interesting composition. The strong horizontal shapes created by the rocks is dominant in the painting. So, the vertical lines of the water falling down the rocks, draws the eye to the center of interest nicely. These vertical shapes are subtlety echoed in the triangular green shape in the left top corner. The intense colors are balanced by the unsaturated colors. This is another painting I would like to see in person because of the texture.