Making Watercolour Boom

Inviting our members to help make it happen

by Sue Wild

The New Zealand art world is in good health. I was first alerted to this when I took paintings for framing after lock-down eased. My framer is always very busy, but he was stretched to capacity. Customers were bringing paintings, prints, photos and embroidery stitched by a great aunt. People had time to “get around to it.” Homes have received unusual attention. Walls that were blank now feature art works. Galleries are reporting a lovely positive season. Alfred reports that his gallery, Memelink Artspace, is experiencing the busiest summer since opening. His classes are brimming. “People are feeling creative and keen to learn to paint.” Art societies and tutors around the country tell of a buzz of interest and the need to add more classes to programmes.

Watercolour New Zealand’s membership continues to increase, as the “Welcome to new members” panel shows. Splash-2020 represented 300 artists, attracted 3320 visitors and had record sales of 81 paintings – 27.5%. The Southern Splash exhibition in the Akaroa Gallery in February had the highest number of sales at opening on record (see Page 14). Our classes are filling. Around 40 people plan to attend our Paintaway in Methven. Members are enjoying the sense of community that Paintaways, outdoor painting sessions, exhibition openings and classes offer. All is humming.

BUT – there is a glitch:
  • Few major galleries display many watercolours. (Memelink Artspace is one that always has an impressive display.)
  • The national collection of New Zealand has purchased few, if any, watercolours in years.
  • The medium is not regarded as an investment opportunity.
New Zealand is not alone. These ‘failings’ exist across the watercolour world. The revered international magazine, The Art of Watercolour, 40th issue, published in December 2020, includes a stirring article by editor Janine Gallizia. Janine has 25 years of global experience of the watercolour world. In a fascinating summary, she lists a sixty-year history of ten-year cycles in the watercolour field, each one fed and led by an individual country. In 2015, she says, the scene changed. “The watercolour cycle was no longer national, it became international. International exhibitions and competitions became the norm. Every corner of the globe saw events taking place, flooding social media and discovering new artists. The sheer number of exhibitions, competitions, artists, paintings multiplied by ten in just 2-3 years.” In response to this change we need to develop international systems and structures for watercolour. We are beginning a new cycle. Janine perceives that NOW is a moment that we must grab and use.

“The greatest watercolour BOOM is on the horizon.”

Janine believes this will happen around the end of 2021 – beginning of 2022. We need to prepare now. She has created a global project, the Watercolour Renaissance, a 100% free initiative. “I am offering to train participants … with the goal of creating a new, stronger structure that will allow us all to prosper. Everyone is welcome, whatever their age, style or level.”

Janine:
“The Watercolour Renaissance is my present to you and to the watercolour that I love.”
If you wish to take part, please contact me: janinegallizia@gmail.com

To join Watercolour Renaissance and get the free training, visit www.janinegallizia.com

I suggest you – our Watercolour New Zealand member artists - think of inscribing in the project. An inscription includes free training to increase the level of paintings, but also competition, exhibition results and increased visibility for artists and Art Societies. People inscribed in WR will also have access to events
and activities that aim at expanding the watercolour market locally.

References:
Magazine: 'The Art of Watercolour', 40th issue.

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