Watercolor exhibitions- 2012

I have been painting watercolors for less than a year.

Yes, I have a painting degree from University of Michigan, so I do have experience in watercolor (2 classes- one taught very badly).  But I also have experience in oils, acrylic, printmaking, sculpture, etc.  And illustration.  And photography.  Basically, I had no idea what I wanted to do after college.

I pursued photography when I graduated.  Somehow, I conned someone into giving me a job at a camera store- where I learned about blowing-yourself-up-if-you-unplugged-a-head-from-a-power-pack when-it-was-still-live, and what not-to-drop.  Survival skills for the 20th and 21st century.

12 years later, after working with Lonely Planet Images, Alamy, agefotostock, and photographing hundreds of weddings, my first day of “freedom”  (my 3-year old started pre-k from 9-12), consisted of coming home.   Instead of sitting on the porch and reading a magazine, I watched a John Salminen video thru CCP.  I had been thinking about painting again, and decided to get back into the field.

Watching the video deflated me.  I sucked!  And I knew it.  Salminen was so good.

I was not good.


You have to start somewhere.  So I  subscribed to watercolor magazines, bought the Splash series books from ebay, and began to think color.  I had to relearn the names of the pigments, their properties, etc, boring, etc, boring (unnecessary details) blah, blah, blah.

In college, my watercolors were meticulous.  Detailed.  Took forever to paint.  Realistic.  I hated them.  Instead, I took pictures and was happier.

Several things change your perspective in life:  kids, and time.

The kids are going to wake up early, and you have less time.

So I painted fast.

And the results were not bad!

Watercolor of Nepal

Watercolor painting of Nepalese city of Bhaktapur, Nepal


Granted, this was a 1/4 sheet of paper, using a limited palette of browns with a few blues .  I was happy with the results, and so were the Illinois Watercolor Society and the 2012 Small Waters Competition show.  The painting was accepted by juror Suzanne Hetzel, PWS, IWS, LWS!

The painting of the Nepalese temple was a compilation of several photographs of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bhaktapur, and artistic liberties were taken with the shapes of foreground and background buildings.

I entered more competitions.  Unfortunately, since I have so little time to paint, I had to be very careful about the amount of competitions I enter since I have so few paintings completed.

Yes, there have been rejections.  I know this.  It’s expected.  Art is subjective.


Nearing the end of 2012, my work has been accepted into such shows as:

The 31t AnnualAdirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors

Judged by Paul Jackson, I was ecstatic to be included in the  show.  I was even going to fly to NY to attend the opening.

Until United cancelled the flight.  I’m not bitter, even though my next painting will be named:  UNITED CANCELLED MY FLIGHT.

I guess the plane was struck by lightning…..

So I couldn’t make the reception for the Adirondacks show.  There will be other shows.

And there was…

Well, I was accepted into the upcoming 2012Watercolor Society of North Carolina Show in Elizabeth City, NC.

Jurored by John Salminen himself!

Again, I was so excited to be included in this show, judged by one of the best watercolorists of our time.  Since I live in North Carolina, I envisioned a week renting a house in the Outer Banks (OBX), taking his workshop.

Well, I am still going to take the workshop.  But I will miss the reception for the show. My younger brother decided to get married in Colorado on short notice.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  I will miss the show reception.  John will understand.  But I will attend his scheduled workshop.

Finally, I had another painting accepted into a major show- the 2012 Pittsburgh Watercolor Society Show.

Watercolor of Inle Lake

This painting was inspired by watercolorist Gerard Hendricks.  I threw paint, splattered it, and had fun.  Using a limited palette helped.  I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

2012 was not a bad year.

2013 will be better, right?



(919) 645-8345












Traditional Painters’ Forum- Raleigh, NC

The monthly Traditional Painters’ Forum at VAE (Visual Art Exchange) was a group I enjoyed attending when I decided to return to painting after a 14 year absence.  I went to several meetings last year when Dan Nelson headed the group.   Dan and other members of the group left to open a work studio & gallery in Cary- The Waverly Artists Group.   Unfortunately, for the Painters’ Forum,  the group was without a leader (I hate that word, especially since I would not want anyone following my style! :)), so I will use “representative” instead.  I volunteered to become the “representative”.

The Traditional Painters’ Forum is a peer-led group, free for VAE members, $5 for non-members.  The forum is a place to bring finished, or unfinished work for critique and discussion.  It is a great place for information on framing shops, contests, and art related topics.

Last week’s meeting was great..    Artist Dick Wayne presented several acrylic paintings, Kittie Rue Deemer displayed watercolor works, and Jean-Baptiste Renard brought a beautiful oil piece.  I even presented a few completed non-disasters (pneumonia takes a lot out of you- I painted a bunch of trash the past few weeks).

Kittie said she loved my watercolors (thank you), and asked what I do with my “disasters”.

To answer, I flipped my paintings- to showed the ruined work on the other side of the watercolor paper.

Let’s face it, I am cheap.  When I ruin a painting, I flip the paper and start again.  Watercolor paper is expensive…

So, anyone interested in buying a watercolor painting of mine, if you examine your purchase carefully, you may find you are receiving a two-for-one special (one painting one each side of the paper).

Now that’s a deal!  🙂

The Traditional Painters’ Forum meets the third Thursday of each month from 7-9pm.

More discussions can be found on the facebook page too.


(919) 645-8345



Watercolor painting of statue in Indonesia



Watercolor demonstration- Asian ruins

The internet is fantastic due to the wealth of painting information.  Years ago, when I took painting classes in college, the only way to learn was to watch students, ask professors, buy books, and read magazines.  However, there were few demonstrations in books and magazines, and I was left trying to figure watercolor through trial and error.

Now, you can google “watercolor demonstration” and be treated to thousands of lessons on individual websites and youtube.

In appreciation of websites I have viewed, I would like to talk about my processes.

Based on an old slide I shot at the Bagan/Pagan ruins in northern Myanmar (Burma), I developed this line drawing:

Obviously, I took out several elements of the photograph and simplified the temples for compositional purposes.

I masked several areas of the foreground field and lines on the temple.  Next, I floated (wet-into-wet) a mix of warm colors- rose madder, yellow-ochre, transparent yellow, and burnt sienna.  Salt was added to provide texture.

My next step was to negative paint the sky.  I was unhappy with this step as several of the wet-into-wet streaks ended too watery and several hard edges were formed.  However, I was confident that defining the foreground would “hide” these blemishes.

The mask was removed and I began to define the temples and foreground foliage.

Cobalt blue was added to the temples & foreground.  Amazing how the sky from the previous two photographs recedes into the background, huh?  This is an optical illusion- all images were photographed at the same settings.  The difference is the complementary color of the temple & darker values added.

Finally, I added a few details to the temples and a suggestion of trees in the left-hand side.

The finished piece was a loose interpretation of the original photograph.  I used the photograph as a reference, and chose the complementary color palette to reflect my memories of the scorching sun and heat at Bagan.  A happy ending to a painting session. 🙂


Ryan Fox


(919) 645-8345




Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors

Bummer. Was supposed to be flying to NY this weekend for the 31st Annual Adirondacks National Exhibition of American show, where my painting of the Bayon temple was accepted.  Judged by Paul Jackson and Pat San Soucie, the show features work by great watercolorists such as Patricia A. Allen, Judi Betts, Cheng-Khee Chee, Z.L. Feng, James McFarlan, Dean Mitchell, and many, many others.

i Arrived at the airport this morning to find the flight was cancelled- but they could put me on tomorrow’s flight. 🙁 Too bad I would have missed the opening reception and my opportunity to meet all the artists who attended (plus i would have visited a friend I have not seen in six years).

If anyone makes the reception, please email me and tell me how it went.

On the flip-side, I guess I have time to paint this weekend :).

First Friday Raleigh- Holgarama photographs

VAE (Visual Art Exchange) in the Raleigh warehouse district, features select artists monthly in their Exchange Gallery.  This June, I will have to opportunity to display my unique Holgaramas photographs.  The film photographs were shot in various locations around the world.

I have shooting with the Lomographic Holga camera for years.  For those unaccustomed to the Holga, it is a medium format plastic camera made in China.  A junk lens, dubious craftsmanship, light leaks galore, and manual controls, it is a delight to photograph with this camera.

The continuous image photographs are created by intentionally under-advancing the film.  Doing this allows the next photograph to blend into the previous image.   By visualizing the positive and negative space I can craft a mental image of the finished product while I am shooting.

(Holgarama of the French Quarter- New Orleans)

This image above three photographs blended together.  However, these images were shot at three different vantage points on Bourbon Street.

(Continuous image photograph of Cambridge University- UK)

Shooting these images with architecture allows me to easily distort perspective.  In the example above, I took a photographs of the left-hand side of the building, the center archway, and then photographed the right-hand side of the college.  This was a long, straight building.  But the photographs distort the architecture and make it look different.  Reality?  Sure.  Just not what you are used to seeing.

Further examples are available on my website.

First Friday at VAE and the art galleries of downtown Raleigh is from 6-9pm.  Come down, have a glass of wine, and take a look at my other Holgaramas.  Hope to see you there 🙂


R. Fox Photography

(919) 645-8345