For a painting to be successful, it either has to be pleasing or snap you to attention, watercolor painter Nancy Stonington said.“It has to have something that reaches out and grabs you,” she said.
Stonington has produced and sold more than 2,500 original watercolor paintings since the 1970s and has been picked to jury the Palouse Watercolor Socius’ Regional Juried Watercolor exhibit in June.
Before the jury, she will host a separate exhibit of her own at the Prichard Art Gallery in downtown Moscow.
Stonington is a “regionalist.”
“I paint wherever I travel,” she said.
And that has been just about everywhere. While she spends most of her time in Idaho, Washington and Alaska, painting landscape or floral themes, some excursions have taken her as far as Europe, Russia, Mexico, Canada and Hawaii.
“My main love is Alaska,” Stonington said.
Stonington is a New York native, who moved to Alaska with her husband in 1970. She was a painter then, she said, but not professionally. As galleries became more popular in southern Alaska, Stonington said, her local landscape art started to sell.
After years of success, Stonington said she’s juried about five shows.
“For a jury, you’ve got to have somebody of some caliber to make the judgment call on which painting is selected and which is not,” she said.
Jan Vogtman, a Palouse Watercolor Socius member of more than eight years, was on the committee to pick Stonington.
“I have been following her work in her career for a number of years and I wanted to bring her here for a workshop,” said Vogtman, who will help coordinate a plein air and studio watercolor workshop led by Stonington.
For the Regional Juried Exhibition, Stonington will have to narrow the 90 submissions down to 35 to be exhibited, and then slim down the pickings further, come time for awards. Nancy’s top pick will be awarded The Avista Award and $1,000.
“The tough situation is, they’re good paintings,” she said. “I have to have a gut reaction to all of them, until I get it down to some kind of manageable level.”
Stonington said she doesn’t like rules and regulations and will use her initial reaction to the paintings as a gauge.
“Artists are sort of uniquely self centered because they believe in what they think, and know and see, and that’s their mission in life to portray,” she said. “Their objective is to translate that into a medium — in this case watercolor — that other people can see. And if you fail to make that statement in a professional, quantitative manner, then no one will get that message.”
Stonington looks for artists who know all the basics of watercolor — how to handle the paint, mix the color, create swatches, know composition and see different perspectives.
“You either have to have seen something extraordinary and convey that on paper or you have to have a message,” she said.
In landscape portraits, that’s what Stonington said she aims to achieve.
“I love to paint and I love to take the challenge of recreating something that moves me,” she said. “To me, it’s just unfathomable how pleasing it all is and it’s all around you, everywhere. The process of painting allows me to share that.”
Stonington said she understands students will be part of the exhibit, too.
“Watercolor is a very elusive medium,” she said. “Some days you are more successful than others, and there are some periods in your life where you reach breakthroughs.”
But, Stonington said that is part of the learning process and some artists may not be there yet.
“A different juror might select different paintings. That’s kind of the Catch 22,” she said. “My own biases probably play a role, even though I try to keep them to a minimum.”
Stonington will showcase her art starting Friday, while a reception will take place at 5 p.m. in the Prichard Art Gallery. Her showcase will continue until Aug. 3. The PWS will host a separate Regional Juried Watercolor exhibit reception, in which she is a juror, on June 13 in conjunction with the opening night reception of Moscow’s Artwalk. The regional exhibit will last until Aug. 3, as well.
“She has a large following for her art and workshop style,” Vogtman said. “Some of these people have taken classes from her before. They have shared some wonderful stories with me about how interesting she teaches and gets people excited about watercolor.”
Stonington will host the watercolor workshop from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 15, 16 and 17 at the 1912 Center in Moscow.
Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or email@example.com.
-If you go
WHAT: Nancy Stonington solo exhibit
WHEN: 1-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Prichard Art Gallery, 414 S. Main St., Moscow