September 9, 2016

This review is my addendum to Bruce MacEvoy's excellent research on other professional grade watercolor paints that can be seen on his website. It is also a response to a company that, until recently, was welcoming and supportive of me and appreciated my applied and shared knowledge of art practice. Note : results of my review are based from careful reading of labeling (comparing to 2016 ASTM lightfastness ratings) and personal use during a handful of demonstration opportunities in store. No personal lightfastness or microscopic tests were held.

From the price, these paints are much more affordable than standard professional grades, leading to my first consideration of them as mostly suited for students - much like the Cotman line of Winsor & Newton. From this point, it is difficult to admit to the large amount of faulty information in their line of watercolor paints compared to other professional watercolor brand standards. Not to say that other professional brands do not take at leas...

June 15, 2016

​​I sit myself down quietly in a second row seat as Frank Eber continues his demonstration during the Transparent Society of America's annual "Celebrate Watercolor Dinner." A corrugated plastic flap dangles loosely from foam core backing and props on his wooden storage box at 45 degrees. To his right and left are storage tubs labeled "Plein Air" that contain his tube paints. Initially coming across as tackle boxes when compared to his outdoorsman style of dress, they allude to his style of painting to which he is suitably “hooked.”

Familiar with the medium for 15 years, materials displayed on the table are typical of a plein air watercolorist: lightweight, sealed, and compact. His scale is also smaller, about a quarter sheet, depicting an abundance of seascapes, mountain ranges, prairies, and a few portraits. Usually traveling with rough press paper, the spring green cover of an Archés 140 pound cold press block provides his surface for today. The choice between the two depends on sub...

June 4, 2016

Normally gatherings  are epitomized like in March to a standing room only crowd of around 50, but the seats felt a bit lonely as the Illinois Watercolor Society welcomed Catherine Nash. Once the president of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America board, she has since retired to more comforting practices in art. Those of you who missed today's presentation can walk with her as she commentates a tour through the member show gallery on the 22nd.

Her apron has Cheap Joe's printed across the breast, the store where she currently works and that also supplies a majority of her paints and brushes. This rainy morning, she presents her more subdued palette, including earth tones as substitutes for variety of reds used generally in floral coloration. Her 140 lb. Arches cold-pressed paper is taped down with Ace Hardware's masking tape and primed with a misty sprays. To her right rests a small collection of robin homes that are spotted with blue eggs arranged in pairs. Less than a foot abov...

June 1, 2016

As a prelude into graduate study, this exhibition brought many insights about my subject matter in the forms of unsuspected praise, unabashed performance, powerful inebriation, and mild derangement. Many thanks go out to the performers, Dina Liberatore, Smellie Riot, and Kevin & Hell. With particular congratulations to Dina for three short dances well done. Her projected intent was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, as she seemingly slid out of one of my paintings and proceeded to step, swaddle herself, and imitate prayer in nothing but her naked skin and gilded drapery to somber tonalities throughout the entire space. It quickened my heart and tied together the exhibition from the front to the back and from the beginning to the close.  

After setting up the display for what took much more time than allotted, my lecture was not only cut short, but also made me sweat due to computer error when the closing summary could not be found. This comes after discovering that, even though my discoveri...

May 31, 2016

​​My rendition of the "mad god," Dionysus, in the form of a self-portrait feasting on the blood of pomegranates was selected from a pair of submissions. I call it "Insipientiam somber," or "Somber Madness." It is a special honor to be among the elite of the medium that compete for the highest award, the Skyledge, this year received by Dean Mitchell for his "Buffalo Soldier." There are 22 total designations that are presented at the private reception on June 10th. They host one show a year, their members show, where around 10% of the applicants are invited. There are 79 works present in the 40th annual juried exhibition that was  selected by jurors Frank Eber and Keiko Tanabe.


Formally known as the Midwest Watercolor Society, whose home is stationed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Transparent Watercolor Society of America is one of three national groups in the United States, along with the American and National Watercolor Societies. During the three month duration of the show, there are vari...

May 14, 2016

On a beautiful day a week ago, I drove out into the middle of the state to the Next Picture Show Gallery in Dixon for the Illinois Watercolor Society's annual National Show. Just the previous Wednesday, I hurried to drop off my submission, "Tago vos," at the gallery past its due date. The facilitator was very willing to give it a space. It was their 32nd national show, with one Taiwanese applicant (not accepted) who gives prudence to the group's influence gaining strength in prominence internationally. This open invitation to join for a third time in a row with recognition from the space and senior members went straight to heart.


Heading the event was the judge and demonstrator, Mark E Mehaffey, who is a signature member of a dozen societies and boasts his teaching nuances learned the hard way over 28 years in the Lansing Public School system. His international origins, growing up in Japan's educational system, and compulsion to keep occupied with many projects at once lent to eventual...

April 11, 2016

Three years ago I was a participating painter and DJ for the once popular music and art event, Velvet Revolution. It was held at Beauty Bar in Chicago, known today for its programs to reflect hipster sensibilities and generally invite emerging talent. Joe Crawford was in the crowd that first approached me voicing his interest in my watercolors and promised me that eventually they would raise enough money to continue their cultural magazine, Loosey Goosey.


In the mail yesterday arrived volume 3 of their print with "Venus renatus" and "My Golds are Up Here" covering a spread across pages 66-7. The first time I met with Joe, the former was without a background. I thank him for the continued support over the last few years, after so much change in both my living and practice. If you are interested in a copy of the self-published zine, click here for the order page. You'll also receive an "I ♥ ART" sticker and support a very promising project.

April 6, 2016

"Tago vos" was selected by show judge Mark Mehaffey for inclusion into the Illinois Watercolor Society 32nd National Exhibition 2016. After 55 years of painting he achieved signature member status in a dozen societies, been added to international permanent collections, and published several instructional books. He will demonstrate his techniques at the beginning of the day's presentations starting at 1 pm.


Previous submissions of this piece to group shows has been unsuccessful. I am especially fond of this piece and am thankful that it was chosen to hang among other very qualified and celebrated watercolorist peers. 


Afterwards, the awards for the 53 participants will be announced. If "Tago vos" is designated an award, it will be the third consecutive time at an I.W.S. National Show. The entirety of the opening is free and open to the public to view and participate. Hospitality and music will also be provided.


The exhibition will be hung to see from May 5 - 28 in The Next Picture Show...

January 23, 2016

Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook hosts Illinois Watercolor Society's member show the first show of the new year. Fifty-two paintings span the walls in the main lobby and side rooms. Among them is

 "Fructus mysticalus II", displaying a playful bunch of grapes between the legs of a naked torso. It is a continuation of the "Sober Madness" series of works exploring intoxication, sensuality, and madness. It acts as the first of many compliments to "Fructus mysticalus I" currently exhibiting in the Oesterle Library Gallery on the campus of North Central College in Naperville.


The guest judge for the show is Phyllis Kozlowski, an adjunct faculty member at Elmhurst College in the Art History department. She awarded the "Award of Excellence" to "Fructus..." and will be present for the reception on March 1st at 6 pm. The show is open to the public until that date and attendance is highly encouraged. Please come to this wonderful venue and support the other talented watercolorists from your lo...

August 11, 2015

The Naperville Art League approached me in need of an instuctor for Advanced Watercolor last week. I'm happy to announce my acceptance and the dates of the Fall 2015 classes:


Wednesdays, October 7, 14, 21, and 28 from 9:30a to 12p.


If you would like to sign up, contact Debbie at (630) 355-2530 or The course will not be available through the Naperville Park District until Winter 2016 classes are posted. Those dates are:


Fridays, January 8, 15, 22, and 29 from 12 - 2:30p

Saturdays, March 5, 12, 19, and 26 from 12 - 2:30p.


Here is a short description of the course:


As a followup to introductory W/C courses, this month-long curriculum advances research into technical, formal, conceptual, and theoretical approach to painting as an expressive art form. The emphasis is for each student to produce a self-designed project that focuses on exploring the finer techniques of mark-making, color theory, and composition. Extracurricular practice and preparation is essential. In...

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© 2020 by Ian Mitchell Wallace

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