Fluvanna Art Association

March – April 2017 Newsletter

Art by Page H. Gifford

The Fluvanna Art Association News is published bi-monthly and is written and edited by Page H. Gifford.

Watercolor Pencils 101

In March I did a brief workshop on watercolor (water-soluble) colored pencils. Members were skeptical at first
when seeing the pencil lay down on the paper in an erratic rather than a smooth coverage. That’s because one really
needs to learn about all the various papers and their weights to understand why medium reacts as it does. For regular
colored pencils I often use vellum (Bristol Board) but watercolor pencils are different as they witnessed.

Just a note about the watercolor papers; Hot-pressed watercolor paper has a fine-grained, smooth surface, with almost no tooth. Paint dries very quickly on it. It is ideal for large, even washes of one or two colors. It is good for drawing and for pen and ink wash which I use otherwise my pen would skip and as seen with pencils you get that erratic coverage. It is not as good for multiple layers of washes since there is more paint on the surface and it can get overloaded quickly, causing that buckling effect.

Cold -Press paper has a slightly textured surface, somewhere in between rough and hot-pressed paper. It is the paper used most often by watercolor artists because it is good for both large areas of wash as well as fine detail.

Rough is the textured pebbly surface used my many professionals, often 300 lb. and very expensive .The standard machine weights are 90 lb., 140 lb., 260 and 300 lbs. Paper less than 260 lb. should be stretched before use, or else it is likely to warp.

Regarding watercolor pencils, I like Derwent Inktense, they have rich, vibrant colors and their line of Derwent Aquatone are the woodless watercolor pencils and they have the Intense blocks (look like Nupastels) which can be used to fill in larger areas. They are pricey, a set of 72 can run you over $100 and in open stock one pencil is over $2.00. Start with a set of six for approximately $12.

Derwent is made in England and Caran D’Ache is Swiss but is also quite expensive. Their Neocolor II Aquarelle Artists’ Crayons can give you the same effect as the Inkntense pencils but like Derwent are expensive, costing anywhere from $18 up to over $200 and open stock is over $2.00 per crayon. Their line of Museum Aquarelle pencils will set you back $4 per pencil in open stock.

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Woodless Watercolor Pencils are great but also costs over $2.00 a pencil in open stock. I have not used Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Magnus Watercolor Pencils but they are a new line by Faber-Castell and sets can be pricey but the single pencils come in under $2.00.

The most reasonable pencils and sticks on the market are Prismacolor, they have the rich color and easy lay down and good coverage but sets cost less than the above and single pencils and sticks in open stock are less than $2.00.

Stay away from brands like Sargent or Pentel, they’re fine for children or students to experiment with but not serious watercolorists. The pigments are not as strong as other finer brands mentioned.

If you enjoy watercolor but like a little more control, these pencils can give it to you. Once you lay down the pencil in an area, you’ll say to yourself, “These don’t cover the area very well.” But wait until you add water and see the magic, it results in deep washes of rich, vivid color. I warn you they are addictive.

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko

Artist’s Spotlight- Mark Rothko: From Rebel to Artist

During the judging of the recent FAA art show, judge, Leah Olivier saw the similarities in the paintings do ne by Lois Manning and Mark Rothko. Apparently she is quite a fan of Rothko’s . Those of us may or may not be a fan of Rothko but his life was interesting as was his view of society and how it influenced his work.

Born in 1903 in Latvia, Russia, one of four children born to Russian-Jewish parents, prior to the Russian Revolution and Communist Regime, he emigrated to American with his mother and siblings after his father died. Rothko was well read and well educated even though his father was a pharmacist, a man of modest means.

All during his early years, witnessing the treatment of his parents and other Jews shaped his view of society. Like many of his generation, he flirted with Marxism and Communism. Rothko made no effort to hide his subversive ideals as was evident when he won a scholarship to Yale University but the scholarship was not renewed the following year and he worked as a waiter to pay for his education. But during his time at Yale, his rebelliousness got the better of him and left at the end of his sophomore year. His rebellious youth was a backlash to the treatment of his father and while at Yale, he thumbed his nose at what he called “the elitists and racists.”

While working in the garment industry in New York, he became interested in art when he saw artists sketching models at The Art Students League. He found his calling and enrolled in Parsons New School of Design. He learned from various artists who taught at the prestigious art schools including Max Weber at the Art Students League. He had found his calling.

One of Rothko's works.

One of Rothko’s works.

He began painting in the 1930’s and was influenced by many avant garde artists of his day. His early works showed more figures, elongated and ethereal. He then began to experiment with space, form and color during World War II. Rothko, still heavily influenced by the political atmosphere of his day, Nietzche’s philosophy became an inspiration in his work. By the late forties, his career took off with the advent of his enormous color block paintings which got panned by the critics but later made him the darling of the art world during the 50’s and 60’s.

During the sixties, Rothko, had continued success with many corporate commissions, however, a new modern art movement was emerging in the form of pop art, which Rothko considered “vapid.”

By 1968, he was diagnosed with a mild aortic aneurysm. Ignoring doctor’s orders, Rothko continued to drink and smoke, avoided exercise, and maintained an unhealthy diet.

On February 25, 1970, Oliver Steindecker, Rothko’s assistant, found the artist in his kitchen, lying dead on the floor in front of the sink, covered in blood. He had sliced his arms with a razor found lying at his side. The autopsy revealed that he had also overdosed on antidepressants.

Prior to his death, Rothko and his financial advisor, Bernard Reis, had created a foundation, intended to fund “research and education” and it would receive the bulk of Rothko’s work following his death. Reis later sold the paintings to the Marlborough Gallery at substantially reduced values, and then split the profits from sales with Gallery representatives.

In 1971, Rothko’s children filed a lawsuit against Reis, Morton Levine, and Theodore Stamos, the executors of his estate, over the bogus sales. The lawsuit continued for more than ten years, and became known as the Rothko Case. In 1975, the defendants were found liable for negligence and conflict of interest, were removed as executors of the Rothko estate and, along with Marlborough Gallery, were required to pay $9.2 million in damages to the estate. This amount represents only a small fraction of the eventual vast financial value of the works produced in his lifetime.

And The Winners Are…

Here are the winners of our Fluvanna Art Association 2017 Annual Judged Show. We would like to extend our thanks to Leah Olivier who acted as Judge and congratulations to the winners and to all the participants. The following artists were awarded ribbons for the listed pieces of artwork:


  • Third Place – “Flower Power” – Acrylic – by Linda Mullin
  • Second Place – “Deep Love” – Watercolor– by Nancy Shaffer
  • First Place – “Awaiting The Harvest” – acrylic – by Ulli Reynolds


  • Honorable mention-”Clover”-mixed media-by Samantha Everett
  • Third Place- “Morning Sunrise” – acrylic– by Carmen Gonzalez
  • Second Place – “Butterfly Garden” – mixed media– by Page Gifford
  • First Place – “That Looks Different” – Charcoal – by Susan Walker


  • Honorable Mention: “Untitled”-acrylic-by Lois Manning
  • Honorable Mention: “Beach Play”-oil -by Charlotte McDaniel
  • Honorable Mention: “Sumatra Swinger”-acrylic-by Jan Taylor
  • Third Place – “Breath of Spring” – Pastel – by Sheila Richard
  • Second Place – “Bully-Chain Pickerel vs. Bluegill” – wood carving/acrylic – by Tom Ellis
  • First Place – “Memories of PA” – Acrylic – by Brenda Lee Cohen


  • Honorable Mention– “Sunshine, Laughter & Tears”– Acrylic – by Betty Scholl
  • Honorable Mention – “Beautiful Magnolia” – by Ellen Keane
  • Honorable Mention – “Reef Color”-watercolor-by Linda Suomi Bethke
  • Honorable Mention-”Low Tide at Cedarmere”-by Nancy Lovall
  • Third Place – “Windswept” – Photography Art– by Paul Stams
  • Second Place – “Glory in the Meadow” – Pastel– by Lorraine Momper
  • First Place – “The Argonaut’s Last Journey1996” – watercolor – by Carolyn Forbes Brown
  • BEST OF SHOW – The highest award of the FAA Annual Show: “Primal Light, Ancient Shadows” – watercolor – by William Snow


April 21, 9:30, Painting Fluvanna Skies with Troy Weidenheimer. Troy will be discussing how to paint realistic skies including and emphasis on clouds. So, if you need to spruce up your landscapes with beautifuls skies, don’t miss this workshop. More details to be emailed prior to workshop.

Plein Air group has started. If you like painting outdoors and would like to join a group that shares your enthusiasm, contact Lorraine Momper via phone or e-mail.

Don’t get rid of unwanted art supplies! We will be having another art yard sale in July and need donations. More details in the May-June newsletter.

The Art of Fashion is showing at the Louisa Arts Center until May 19. If anyone is interested in attending contact Page Gifford via phone or e-mail.

Capture the Heart of Virginia-Fluvanna County Photography Contest

When: May 1 – July 14, 2017; Categories: Live · Learn · Work · Play

Whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned shutterbug, let Fluvanna County showcase your best photography!

We are always looking for fresh photos taken within the county for use on the Fluvanna County website (featured or background), on our social media pages, and in our publications.

All photographs will be on display at the Fluvanna County Fair from Thursday, August 17 through Saturday, August 19, 2017. For more information, visit www.fluvannacounty.org or contact Jonathon Pace.

Calling All Judges!!!

It’s that time of year again when we need judges for the middle school art show. We need six judges for either Monday, April 24, or Thursday April 27, at 3:30 p.m. For the High School art show, we need judges on Friday May 5, at 4:00 p.m. Contact Page Gifford via phone or e-mail if you can judge one of these shows.

April 17th, 2017 | Categorized: newsletter