Frequently Asked Questions

How does WSA define the “original art” requirement for entries?
How does WSA define the “original art” requirement for entries?

Competing artists must use their own design and composition.  Copying a photo taken by another person, or copying another painting or magazine picture, or work done under an instructor’s supervision is not considered original work. The Artists Magazine, Nov 2014 issue, has an excellent article on “What is Original Art?” by Faye McLain, Dallas, GA.

Eligibility rules in the WSA prospectus will tell you whether your planned submission meets the “original” painting requirement.  The NOT ALLOWED requirements stated below, further clarify the term “original.”

  • Copies or likeness of another’s work (i.e. painting, drawing, photograph, digital image or print) are not allowed.

WSA perspective is totally focused on fairness in competition exhibitions and protection of WSA while implementing the copyright laws. Even if permission is granted to copy works of others, for a competition it is not fair to copy ideas, designs, etc., of other artists.  Therefore copies or likenesses of another artist’s work including published source or reference not attributable to the competing artist is not allowed by WSA. In addition, even if the artist has permission from the copyright owner to copy by painting the source work, WSA would not have permission of the copyright owner to exhibit the copied work or to publish it in our catalog. Therefore, WSA would be liable to the copyright owner for violating the copyright laws.

  • Artwork derived from any published source is not acceptable.

Published sources include any magazine, newspaper, billboard, newsletter, other artist’s work whether online or wherever.  None of these can be used as source materials for artwork submitted for WSA competitions.  This does not apply to your original work that has been published.  Authorization to use works of another artist is fine for certain applications (teaching resources, e.g.), but not allowed for WSA competitions.  Your photos, published or not, can be used as reference sources for your original artwork.

Other unpublished photos taken by friends, family, e.g., with their approval could be appropriate references.  As competing artists we should keep a file of our reference sources, notes, sketches, date the painting is finished, etc., in case the Screening Committee of any competition has a question.  The Committee implements record searching to screen the originality of the painting; however, in most incidents, this type of information comes to us from competing artists who feel it is unfair.

Will you explain and clarify the “wood frame” requirement“ in the WSA prospectus?
Will you explain and clarify the “wood frame” requirement“ in the WSA prospectus?

The WSA goal is to achieve a homogeneous watercolor exhibition; a collection of art to be enhanced and illuminated in a museum setting.  Framing must not detract from our goal to focus attention on the artwork in itself.  However, to make framing less restrictive and still meet our goal, the requirement has been modified to read:  “Wood frame:  simple wood tones or painted gold, silver, or black (without ornate ornamentation)”.

For further clarification, see  Examples of Frames,  Simple (allowed) and Ornate ornamentation (not allowed)

Why does the Society have a maximum frame size requirement?
Why does the Society have a maximum frame size requirement?

WSA holds the National Exhibition at a different venue every year.  Some of the venues’ hanging space is larger than others.  WSA works with each venue to determine the number of paintings that can be hung.  Our goal is to hang as many paintings as possible in order to give more artists an opportunity to exhibit.  Framed sizes are therefore required according to the amount of space provided by the venue for exhibition.  Please read the prospectus carefully as the framed size may change from year to year.

Does the term “aqueous, watercolor manner“ mean that if you use the dry-brush technique, gouache or egg tempera, that the painting is disqualified?
Does the term “aqueous, watercolor manner“ mean that if you use the dry-brush technique, gouache or egg tempera, that the painting is disqualified?

Any of the allowed medium will be accepted if it is applied in the same manner that watercolor is applied, to include dry brush.  However, if the paint is applied so thickly that it becomes raised in depth (globs of media) on the paper, it will not be accepted. The dry brush technique is a valid watercolor technique and is very acceptable when applied in the same manner as watercolor.

The dry brush technique can be achieved with any water-based media. Regardless of which water-based media is used, the brush should be dry or squeezed dry of all water, loaded with the aqueous, watercolor-consistency media, and applied to a dry support….or… the dry brush can be loaded with aqueous media and then squeezed dry.  How much paint remains on the support when applied depends on the swiftness of the application; the dampness of the brush, and/or the dryness of the support. However, if globs of raised application of paint remain on the support, it will not be accepted.

What are some recent violations of prospectus requirements?
What are some recent violations of prospectus requirements?

In past exhibitions, there were numerous paintings that contained things for which they were not acceptable.  A few are listed as follows:

  • Older than two years
  • Applied texture mediums
  • Varnished
  • Not original paintings, published reference materials were used
  • Painted on canvas
  • Ornate frames, dirty or colored mats

When this was brought to the artists’ attention, most of them had not read or paid attention to the prospectus requirements.  We want everyone to be successful and not be rejected because they didn’t read the prospectus carefully.  Recently WSA reformatted the prospectus requirements in an easier form for the artist to read and hopefully follow.  The exhibition requirements have not changed; they have only been restated in a different format and all future prospectuses will follow this format.  In fairness to all WSA members the Screening Committee will be checking entries against all of the requirements listed in the prospectus.

Why all the rules for painting content and presentation?
Why all the rules for painting content and presentation?

The WSA goal is to achieve a homogeneous water-media exhibition; a collection of art to be enhanced and illuminated in a museum setting.  It is most important that we maintain the integrity of a watercolor society and not allow materials or techniques that detract from our goal.