Juror Statement

Every medium has its character, personality, and demands. Learning to paint in oils or work in charcoal requires developing the skills needed to talk to that medium. Watercolor is the exception. One has to learn to listen. 


In an interview, Yuri Kuklachev, the famous cat tamer, said that he never had to tell the cats how to do their tricks. His job was to find the tasks they naturally wanted to do and build their acts around them. I could not think of a better analogy for watercolor, for it cannot be dictated to. The artist's vision, the subject, and the medium's caprices must merge to create something neither one of the three expected. It's a humbling act, and all of us who paint in watercolor know and treasure the often frustrating but altogether unique conversations we have with each piece that leaves our easels. 


Looking through submissions, I saw many conversations between the artist and their subject, but more importantly, with the medium of watercolor itself. It wasn't the artists dictating their vision. I witnessed their unique arrival through a shared space between themselves, the medium, and their subject in each piece.

It was a pleasure to see and an honor to judge such a collection of work. I decided on the winners based on this connection. I focused on technical skill (for watercolor allows for some of the most virtuosic techniques

found in all of Painting), vibrancy, expression, and personal vision.

In the end, I tried to pick work that balanced all of this. 


Congratulations to all of the winners and all of the participants! Never lose faith in your practice and your artistic voice. Keep painting, keep submitting work, and keep opening our eyes and ears to those silent conversations.



Iliya Mirochnik


New Masters Academy

Ringling College of Art

Southern Atelier