My International Watercolor Society Jury Entry

This was my entry for the Shenzhen International Watercolor Society's Biennial Jury process of 2013:


This strong tugboat, named “Pentagoet” for her historic harbor, caught my attention last September when I first visited Castine, Maine. She was painted to express the thick moist fog which rolls into seaside towns, enveloping harbor, islands and other fishing vessels and sailboats until they simply fade and then disappear from sight. The “State of Maine” is the large maritime teaching vessel, which goes out to sea every summer with students aboard. Just before beginning to paint, the large ship returned from her summer voyage. I was fortunate to witness the fog begin to roll in and saw the tugboat's electric lights one evening. It was a beautiful, warm sight of boats safely at rest which I tried to depict.

There were 2,825 images entered for the Jury to judge.  These large watercolor works on paper were submitted from 54 countries or regions of the world! Only 150-200 images were expected to be chosen for a December Exhibition in Shenzhen, China. Some works will also be chosen to travel to five other countries.

I'm not positive if the Jury has completly finished quite yet, they may still be working to try to pare down and finalize the pieces. - 260 works have been selected for "Stage 1" and 130 of these are Chinese works. However, my tugboat scene, "Pentagoet in the Fog" was not selected this year.

Some have expressed disappointment for me, however I do not feel disappointed! I feel glad to have tried. My competitive nature is still with me! I will take more time to paint and hope to enter again in the future.

I have a good idea why this work wasn't accepted, and at the same time have had an incredibly positive and excited response from people who have seen this painting and know the harbor where these boats rest!

Big boats are very different subject matter from anything else I've ever painted. To me, this is "a man's painting." Men love looking at the electronic gizmos and they generally like everything made out of steel, things that create lots of noise, have a motor and can be used to move things in the TON category... =)

I learned about this exhibition only a few weeks before the deadline for entry. Although I could enter up to two images, I was pleased to have produced one half-sheet watercolor in a relatively short amount of time.

After painting forty-six hours in two weeks and also teaching painting and basketry lessons eighteen additional hours during that same period of time, I was just a bit tired after this image was finally sent off!

Painting large works feels like running a marathon to me. I've never run longer than a 5k, but I still liken painting to the exertion required for a long distance race. I've read a great deal about runners and the needed recovery time following major races...and to my way of thinking, painting is similar.

I loved having the deadline! I learned several things while painting this work. I also loved meeting the man who captained this tugboat for over twenty years. And I was thrilled when the fog rolled in the very evening before I began painting. The weather timing was perfect!

And so, if at first one doesn't fricassee - fry, fry a hen!

~ Elise

P. S. The verses I chose for this painting are special because my great-grandfather was First Mate on a Three-Masted Schooner around the turn of the 19th Century. He traveled around the world on ships, working his way up from Cabin Boy to stopping a mutiny. He was highly literate, speaking five languages and keeping the ship's log. His career ended after he fell from the crow's nest in the Melbourne, Australia harbor, breaking his ribs and puncturing his lungs. His crew waited there for three months, hoping he'd recover. They sailed without him, thinking he would die. But after six long months my Opa healed and left the hospital, making his way back to New York City where he met my great-grandmother. He became a land-lubber after that, starting delicatessens in four areas of NYC.

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" ~ Psalm 107:23-31


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