The Florida Watercolor Society held a first, second, and third Annual Exhibition from 1938 to 1941 under the presidency of Harold Hilton. It is thought that the current Florida Watercolor Society evolved from this early beginning. There was no further activity until 1972 when Guy Beattie, Director of the Maitland Art Center, invited Florida watercolorists to contribute their work to an exhibition. Miles Batt, AWS, juried the show selecting eighty-four paintings from those submitted. Because of interest in the show, the Florida Watercolor Society was founded with twenty-six artists becoming Charter Members. Today, membership has now grown to almost 1,000.
FWS’ main events each year are an Annual Exhibition, Convention & Trade Show in various locations throughout Florida, during September or October. The Annual Exhibition is held in one of the state’s most prestigious galleries or museums and has grown to include 100 paintings juried from over 600 entries. FWS also hosts an Online Show for our Non-Signature members. Members in good standing may enter the Exhibitions. Members whose work has been exhibited at three Annual Exhibitions are classified as Signature Members and may include “FWS” with their signature. In 2022, FWS expanded eligibility to include a one-time only point towards Signature for a winner in the Online Show. The Online winner would also require acceptance into two Annual Exhibitions to attain Signature status. Both Annual Exhibition and Online Show, are judged and juried by internationally known artists working in watermedia today, who also conduct the educational workshops offered at the Convention. The Annual Exhibition is recognized as one of the top watermedia exhibits in the country.
During the Convention & Trade Show, FWS hosts many educational events. Two 4-day workshops and at least one 1-day workshop, taught by the invited judges and instructors, are offered during the week prior to Convention weekend. During Convention, demonstrations by noted artists are presented throughout the day, along with critiques, silent auctions, raffles, and many other wonderful activities. There is a nominal fee to attend Convention for Members and Non-Members. FWS also offers video replays of Convention demos and other events for those who cannot attend in person.
Another component and highlight or our Convention is the Trade Show that features vendors from all over the United States and Europe. The Trade Show is an opportunity for teachers, students, and those interested in art to be introduced directly to the suppliers of the latest art materials for water media. It is free and open to the public to purchase materials, observe art demonstrations and meet artists of international acclaim.
Members volunteer their services in many areas, visiting school systems, acting as docents in museums, giving “art talks” to organizations, and demonstrating techniques to other art societies or groups. This is an opportunity to share ideas and offer classes and workshops. On occasion, art supplies are donated by FWS to schools and needy students. In addition, the Society presents a scholarship of $1,000 to a college or university located near the site of the Annual Convention to present to a deserving student of watermedia. FWS also donates to the nationwide Congressional Art Award Competition, a visual arts competition for high school students.