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Watercolour Societies - Resources for Artists

Updated on August 25, 2015
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Katherine regularly writes about art societies and art society exhibitions. She's also created comprehensive lists of art societies.

Find out about watercolour societies

A comprehensive listing for watercolour painters of the websites of watercolour societies around the world - and their blogs and Facebook Pages.

Below you can find the websites of leading watercolour societies in the UK, USA, Canada, Europe, Australasia and Asia - plus a listing of those which relate to more local groups.

Use the information to:

  • find a watercolour society where you live
  • identify when there are exhibitions of watercolour paintings which you can submit work to or visit
  • pay a virtual visit to different watercolour societies around the world - and review their approach to society activities and website design
  • ask societies in an area where you are vacationing whether they have recommendations on good places to paint for watercolour artists or a paint-out you can join

This information is prefaced by a definition of watercolour painting and watercolour media and some tips for developing an art blog for an art society.

Why create a list of Watercolour Societies

Image: View of the Bankside Gallery during the Spring Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society. The Bankside Gallery is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames next to Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge
Image: View of the Bankside Gallery during the Spring Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society. The Bankside Gallery is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames next to Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge | Source

Why I developed this listing of watercolour societies

I review a lot of exhibitions by national art societies and am interested in art societies - and have a bit of a tendency to make lists!

However here are some of my other reasons for creating a list of watercolour societies - which also come as a list!

  1. More and more art societies are creating links to their peers in other parts of the country or in other countries. It's also interesting to see how in America there are some organisations which cover major areas of the country
  2. Watercolour painters travel a lot. It's nice to know whether or not there is a local art society and whether they have any opportunities to paint with them while in the area. Or maybe provide tips about good places to go to paint
  3. Art societies often like looking at other art society websites - to see if they can pick up a few tips and/or improve on their own website
  4. Exhibitions of watercolour paintings - most societies hold exhibitions on a regular basis and a listing such as this allows people to check whether the organisations local to them are planning an exhibition of watercolour paintings near where they live

What I've noticed in compiling this list is how many watercolour societies now have a blog as well - and art society blogging is another of my interests! Blogger is without a doubt the most popular vehicle for this - probably because it's completely free and doesn't require any web hosting arrangements.

It's also interesting to note how organisatons are also beginning to develop their own Facebook Page and these are also listed where found

Image: Bankside Gallery in London - home of the Royal Watercolour Society
Image: Bankside Gallery in London - home of the Royal Watercolour Society | Source

What's the definition of watercolour? - watercolour paintings and watercolour media

There is no universal agreed definition of watercolour. More and more media appear to want to try and get under the umbrella of the prestigious watercolour societies

Below are the definitions of watercolour painting provided by the leading watercolour societies. The name of the watercolour society comes first (in alphabetical order) and then their definition of a watercolour painting and/or watercolour media

Tips for starting an Art Society Blog

These are the first two of a series of posts I've written on the topic of developing art blogs for Art Societies and Art Groups.

I'm a very experienced blogger (blogging since 2005), have the third most popular art blog in the UK and have run an art society blog and developed it so that it improved communication and enhanced the profile of the art society and its artist members.

UK Watercolour Societies

190-195 Piccadilly, London - former home of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (1883 - 1970)

190-195 Piccadilly, London was the home of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (from 1883 to 1970). The new building was opened on 27 April 1883 by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The name is inscribed across the top of the building. Eight portrait busts of various watercolour painters - including Turner, Cotman, Girtin and Cox - by Onslow Ford decorate the front of the building above the shops.

The RI moved out in 1970 and commercial interests have now changed the nature of the original building.

For more information about this building see British History Online: Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1 - Chapter IX which covers the south side of Piccadilly.Image: Author's own photo

National Watercolour Societies in the UK

These are the names of and links to the leading watercolour societies in the UK.

The UK boasts the oldest watercolour society in the world - the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS). Its home can be found at the Bankside Gallery in London - next door to Tate Modern on the South Bank of the River Thames. Founded in 1804, it boasts archives which cover the story of its development from that date to this. It also has a Diploma Collection of the paintings donated by each member on their election to membership of this prestigious body. The archive is currently being digitised so as to make it more accessible. It has Member Exhibitions in the Spring and Autumn and also has a special contemporary watercolour painting competition for non-members.

The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (RI) was originally founded in 1807 as the New Society of Painters in Water Colours - and was set up as an alternative to the RWS. The RI has always had - from the very beginning - a policy of showing non-members work alongside those of its members. In 1808, it changed its name to become the Associated Artists in Water Colours and folded in 1812 due to financial woes. It was resurrected in 1831 as the New Society of Painters in Water Colours and went on to become the Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1863. In 1883 they moved into a new gallery on Piccadilly opposite the Royal Academy of Arts and stayed there until 1970.

Books about the Royal Watercolour Society

The Royal Watercolour Society has been around for a very long time and has extensive archives. They've published some of their archives in books about the past masters of watercolour painting.

Plus they've got books about current and recent members of the society and contemporary working methods

The Triumph of Watercolour: The Early Years of the Royal Watercolour Society 1805-55
The Triumph of Watercolour: The Early Years of the Royal Watercolour Society 1805-55

By the RWS - Published 2005 to celebrate the bicentenary of the RWS - it contains a number of paintings by leading watercolour painters of the past

 
Watercolour Masters Then & Now
Watercolour Masters Then & Now

By the RWS - Published 2008This volume places paintings by past masters alongside the artwork of current members who've been inspired by their paintings

 
Watercolour Expert: Insights Into Working Methods and Approaches
Watercolour Expert: Insights Into Working Methods and Approaches

By the RWS - Published 2007Rated 5* by 2 customer reviewsCurrent members of the RWS explain and illustrate different techniques for working in watercolour

 

Watercolour Societies in North America

USA - National Watercolour Societies

These are the leading watercolor societies at a national level in the USA

USA - Regional Associations

Different initiatives have been taken to organise watercolor painters and/or watercolor societies into a regional organisation or multi-state federation.

Eastern Time Zone - Watercolour Societies

States include: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia

New England - Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont,

New England contains a lot of places to paint favoured by artists in both the past and present.

Mid Atlantic - Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia

This area provides a lot of organisations which operate across boundaries or at a more local level

North East - New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania

Oddly, although an area with a huge population it doesn't have a huge number of watercolor societies

Aqueous Open 2014, Pittsburgh Watercolor Society 68th Annual Exhibition

South Atlantic - Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina

This part of the country is an extremely popular place for both painting on vacations and for workshops

Central Time Zone - Watercolour Societies

States include: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin

Mid West (South) - Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas

Texas has a number of societies and groups devoted to painting in watercolor

Southwestern Watercolor Society - ARTsPark 2014

East South Central - Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee

Each of the states has its own society

Mountain Time Zone - Watercolour Societies

States include: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming

Pacific Time Zone

States include: Alaska, California, Hawaii Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Pacific South West - California and Nevada

Societies are recommended to take a look at the exemplary website of the Sierra Watercolor Society which is very clearly laid out and has a number of features not found on other society websites

2014 Nevada Watercolor Society Spring Show

Watercolour Societies in Europe

Ireland

Six ladies founded The Water Colour Society of Ireland in 1870. These were the Baroness Pauline Prochazka, Miss Currey, the Misses Keane, Miss Musgrave and Miss Phipps. Their aim was to promote mutual improvement in painting and drawing and the cultivation of a taste for art. Its early development is also clearly associated with the need by women to develop themselves into professional artists

BOOK: An Illustrated History of the Water Colour Society of Ireland

This is a chronicle of the history of this society - founded by six lady artists in 1870 - and the historical development of watercolour painting in Ireland.

Scandinavia

The Nordic Watercolour Group covers artists in Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden

Spain

The Spanish Association of Watercolors (AEDA) aims promote the development of watercolor, teaching, study and research in Spain. Through its partners and Board, there are organized exhibitions each year. These are held in the capital and around Spain to help make events more local.

Watercolour Societies in Australasia

Watercolour Societies in Asia

Watercolour Societies in Africa

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