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Leepa-Rattner Museum features Florida Watercolor Society exhibition

Volunteer Leon Evans carries Everglades Reflections #1, a work by Donna Morrison, after it arrives for the Florida Watercolor Society’s 44th Annual Exhibition at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.
Volunteer Leon Evans carries Everglades Reflections #1, a work by Donna Morrison, after it arrives for the Florida Watercolor Society’s 44th Annual Exhibition at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.
Published Sep. 3, 2015

TARPON SPRINGS

Artist Libit Jones, the current president of the Florida Watercolor Society, is "learning to let go."

Of her backgrounds, that is.

To create her award-winning style — one layered with lively patterns and textures — she paints over the initial rendering until only a trace of the original watercolors or objects remain visible.

"It's hard," she says. "I fall in love with my backgrounds, but it's a jumping off point."

See her watercolor painting, Together, a pictorial of her sister and two nieces walking through Central Park, during the Florida Watercolor Society's 44th Annual Exhibition at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

The juried art show, featuring 100 chosen watercolor paintings from Florida artists, opens Sunday and runs through Nov. 1.

Many of the pieces are for sale, including Dean Mitchell's Morning in the Quarter, a photo-like rendering of a New Orleans streetscape with doorways, balconies, and perfect morning shadows. This painting will fetch $15,000 as he is considered an important artist of our day and his works are highly collectible.

Prices for original watercolors in the show start at several hundred dollars.

The collection was created by highly skilled artists who utilize diverse techniques and paint in water-soluble media on a variety of surfaces, both synthetic and organic. The designs are traditional and experimental, and in most cases, created with highly saturated pigments that aren't necessarily applied with a brush.

Artist Kris Parins poured her paint onto her piece called Jailbirds which features white ibis "locked up" underneath their long-legged flamingo friends.

"She masks out layer upon layer which creates unique variations of color," said Libit, who signs her paintings with her first name only and prefers to be referred to that way. "It's a contemporary art piece that shows good color knowledge and a sense of humor."

Other works offer wry commentary such as Susan Hanssen's gender-bending piece called The Red Veil, which portrays a woman dressed in Napoleonic military attire "as a symbol of power and identity."

"I combine elements of past and present 'fashion' to create a sense of whimsy and irony," Hanssen writes on her website.

This is the third time the museum has hosted the FWS exhibition, which is recognized as one of the best in the nation. In addition, two other exhibitions will complement the show, "50 Years of Watercolors by Abraham Rattner" and "Watercolors from the LRMA Collection."

The exhibition coincides with the FWS annual convention at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater Hotel. The public is invited to attend 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 2 and 3. Visit floridawatercolor.org for more information.

If you want to try your hand at watercolors, the museum offers an introductory, eight-week course beginning Oct. 12.

Libit, a former commercial artist, said there's just something special about watercolors.

"They blend, they mingle — they do things other media don't."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.