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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the GWS Judy Greenberg Scholarship Program?

Judy Greenberg was the 2010-2011 GWS President, after serving on the GWS Board for several years. As President, Judy started the concept of giving back to the community.  After a long battle with ovarian cancer, she passed away in 2015, and the Judy Greenberg High School Senior Scholarship Exhibition (JGHSSSE) was started in her honor in 2016. An exhibition and sale of Judy’s original watercolors and signed prints (donated by her family) were held at Binders, with proceeds going to the Scholarship Exhibition to be used as prize money for future student exhibitions. This was Judy’s request the week before her death.
In 2020, GWS collaborated with the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition to honor watercolor artists in Atlanta area high schools. A total of 165 artworks of all genres were accepted and displayed at the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park, Atlanta. Please see for more information and the dates of the exhibition.GWS board members judged the watercolor works submitted and selected award winners, presenting $375 from the Judy Greenberg Fund. Check out Scholarship Program under About Us on this website for more information. 

Who can join the Georgia Watercolor Society?

Membership in the Georgia Watercolor Society is open to both residents and non-residents of Georgia who are interested in promoting the art of watercolor. Dues are $40 per year. A Life Membership is available for $350 (one-time payment). A Student Membership is $20 per year for full-time students at accredited art schools. A Family Membership is $60 for two members at the same address. A membership application is available on this website.

Why should I join GWS?

Membership in the Georgia Watercolor Society is a great way to meet other watercolorists and keep up with the art of watercolor in Georgia. Our two annual exhibitions provide an opportunity to see some of the best of what is being accomplished in watercolor today. Our newsletter features articles about watercolorists and watercolor techniques. GWS-sponsored watercolor demonstrations give you an opportunity to explore techniques. Our website provides many opportunities for you to get exposure for your art. Most of all, joining GWS helps to promote watercolor as a rich and vibrant medium throughout Georgia.

What is Signature Membership?

Signature Membership in the Georgia Watercolor Society is determined by the following point system: one (1) point per National Exhibition and one-half (1/2) point per Member Exhibition acceptance. A total of three (3) points is required, including at least one National Exhibition acceptance. You may only receive one point (or half point) per exhibition. You must be a current member to receive credit points. Signature Members are required to pay annual dues to retain Signature status. If there is a lapse in membership, previous points are not retained. To recover lost points or Signature status, a member must pay back dues.

When does GWS hold exhibitions?

GWS generally holds two exhibitions each year. The National Exhibition is held in the spring and is open to all watercolorists. Awards in the National Exhibitions generally total $8,000 – $10,000. The Member Exhibition, held in the fall, is open only to GWS members.

How do I enter paintings in GWS exhibitions?

First, you will need to find a copy of the prospectus, which has all the details about how to enter a show. You can download a copy of the prospectus for each exhibition from this website. The prospectus is usually available 8 – 12 weeks before the deadline for digital images.

Read the prospectus and follow the directions to complete the online entry form.  You will need to complete and sign an agreement/disclaimer as part of your submission. No paintings juried into the exhibition will be hung without a signed disclaimer form. 
You will need the following information for each painting entered:
· Title of the painting
· Size of frame and size of painting in inches (height x width, i.e., 22” x 30”)
· Selling price or NFS (Not for Sale)
· You will need a digital .jpg image of each painting saved on your computer per these instructions:
· Image resolution must be at least 300 DPI with a minimum of 1800 pixels on the longer side
· File size less than 2.0 Mb
· Filename includes the title of the painting Example: PragueAtDusk.jpg
Payment online can be made via PayPal or credit card. If you have trouble with the online payment, please contact the entry chair.
If you are entering a Member Exhibition, you must be a GWS member. National Exhibitions are open to all watercolorists.

What are the rules for submitting digital images?

  1. Take a digital photograph using a digital camera of 3.0 megapixels or higher or scan a photograph of the painting and save it in a computer file.
  2. Crop the image so that the entire painting is visible without extraneous background or framing showing. The saved image should represent the painting exactly.
  3. The file format must be JPEG (highest quality, no compression) and image resolution must be 300 dpi with a minimum resolution of 1800 pixels on the longer side.
  4. File size must be less than 2.0 Mb. 
  5. All images must be labeled with Nameofpainting.jpg.

I want to submit a digital image for an exhibition. How do I resize the image?

When you take a picture with your digital camera, the image will probably be larger than what is required in the prospectus. How you resize the image will depend on the type of computer and software you have. The following link provide instructions on how to resize images with Adobe Photoshop software:

Do you allow collage in GWS shows?

Mixed watermedia and collage are acceptable but only if all elements are made using watermedia created by the artist.  No preprinted or computer-generated images are allowed.

Do you allow Yupo, watercolor canvas, Canvas, Claybord and Aquabord in GWS shows?

Yes, in addition to watercolor paper, we allow paintings created on Yupo, watercolor canvas, Canvas, Claybord or Aquabord as long as they meet the other requirements for our exhibitions. Particularly, paintings must meet the matting and framing requirements. If paintings done on cradled Claybord or Aquabord are waxed or varnished, the cradling may substitute for a frame. 

What are your requirements for framing and matting?

11All paintings are to be framed in wood or metal; acceptable colors include gold, silver, black, brown or natural wood tones. Frames are to be plain and unadorned and should not exceed 3” in width. They must be ready for hanging with wire in place. See some examples of frames that were questionable and a decision was made to accept/not accept.

Plexiglass must be used — NO GLASS. Work may be varnished or waxed before framing (These paintings do not require plexiglass).

Maximum frame size may not exceed 48” in either direction. No image may be smaller than 8” x 10”.

Mats or liners, if any, must be white or a light neutral color. Improperly framed pieces or those unsuitable for hanging will be returned and the artist will be ineligible to enter a GWS exhibition for two years.

What is the best way to ship my painting to a GWS show?

GWS accepts paintings shipped via UPS or FedEx. There may be special instructions depending upon the venue. However, The easiest and most economical way to ship a painting is to create a UPS or FedEx account online. This method allows you to print your shipping labels, complete with barcodes, at home. The shipment is billed to your credit card. Do not use “counter delivery” because all paintings will be picked up at the gallery by FedEx or UPS.
The procedures work basically the same way for both companies. Log in to your account, create a shipment, print the shipping label, create a return shipment, and print the return label. Attach the shipping label to the box for your painting, and enclose the return shipping label with a barcode in an envelope and attach the envelope to the hanging wire on the back of the painting. Once you have finished, take your box to the nearest dropoff location for your carrier, most often a Kinkos/FedEx location or a UPS store.
You will want to compare prices at UPS and FedEx. The rates for each carrier will vary depending on the dimensions, weight, and distance. Choose the one that gives you the better price.
Note: our experience has been that UPS works well in just about all circumstances. FedEx works well if you print your shipping and return labels from an online account, but it can be difficult to get FedEx to pick up return packages that use air bills, call tags or other methods. We do not recommend using FedEx unless you have a FedEx account and you or your packing service (Kinkos) can generate a return label with a barcode.
Packaging: Proper packaging is imperative to protect your work. Improper packaging may result in damaged, returned or unopened shipment. Airfloat StrongBox™ or a comparable foam lined box is required to ship your painting.  You can order a reusable Airfloat StrongBox by calling 800-445-2580; ask for the Georgia Watercolor Society member discount.Anyone not using an Airfloat StrongBox™ or comparable foam lined box will be subject to a $25 fee.Wood or metal crates are not accepted. Packages sent with popcorn filler will be returned.
Additional Fees: In some cases there are additional shipping and handling fees imposed by show venues. These will be noted on the exhibition prospectus.
Note: Work that is improperly shipped will be returned to you. You will not be in the exhibition and will be ineligible to submit work for GWS exhibitions for one year.

What paintings are eligible for a GWS exhibition?

All paintings must be original work using watermedia. No reproductions or preprinted images are allowed.  All work must be original from conception to completion. Submitted artwork may not be a copy, likeness, or direct derivative of another person’s creative work e.g., paintings, drawings, photography, digital images or prints.  Work done in a workshop or under classroom supervision is also not permitted.

All work must have been completed within the last two years, see exact date on prospectus and not previously exhibited in any GWS exhibition. No exceptions will be made. 

What Photo References can I use for my painting?

Your submitted artwork may not be a copy, likeness, or direct derivative of another person’s creative work.  This includes other’s photography.   Simply put, if your painting is a derivative of a photo, that photo must have been taken by you

Are there exceptions to using other people’s photos?

There are scenarios in which minor elements of someone else’s photo might be added to your painting or comprise a minor element in your painting.   This would be possible as long as it is does not retain the key story and composition of the original photo and you have received permission from the photographer or owner of the copyright.

I saw a beautiful photo on the web. It would make such a great painting and the photo is from a source that is free and relinquishes all copyrights. Can I submit a painting based on that image since it is free?

No, it is not eligible for submission.  If the magic of your painting comes from the magic of the photograph, then the idea, image and/or composition are not your own.

I want to submit a painting of a person who is no longer living. Is that okay?

It depends upon the reference.  If you are making a veridical rendering of a photo from another artist, say for example someone like Florence Owens Thompson, then no.  If you are digging among old family photos or antique photos which were created more as documentation than as a creative product, then yes.  Again be cognizant of copyright issues.

Can I use a friend’s photo as a reference for my own painting?

Ask your friend first but then ask yourself if you are using your friend’s vision for the idea, magic and composition of your painting.  If yes, then don’t use it.  We want to see paintings through your eyes!  If you feel like you are making enough changes to make it your own, then use your best judgment.

What if I paint a stylized version of someone else’s photo?

The more you move from the original photo reference the more you move away from appropriating or plagiarizing another person’s creative work.  It is often hard to draw the line by being inspired by another artists’ work and appropriating their work.  Our metric as a board will simply be if we recognize your reference photo as someone else’s work. 

What criteria will you use to decide if someone has appropriated someone else’s work and what are the consequences?

It is not the aim of GWS to police artwork or the art making process.  But when there is clear evidence of plagiarism, GWS will take action.  If the appropriation is obvious to us, a painting may be returned at the artist’s expense, disqualified from showing in the exhibition, and removed from the catalogue and all promotion.  If the painting received an award, the award may be rescinded post award.  The president of GWS makes the final judgment and call as to whether someone has violated this rule.  His or her decision is final and irrevocable.

If I take my own photograph of someone’s picture, or take a screenshot, can I use the photo now?

No.  Again, it must be your idea, magic and composition.

I don’t understand all of these references to copyright law.

According to United States Copyright Law, and quoting from the website, your art is considered copyright protected from “the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”  As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.  When an artist uses a photograph for reference, the painting or artwork is called derivative work.

What types of water media are allowed in GWS exhibitions?

The following water media are allowed: Watercolor, acrylic, casein, gouache, and egg tempera are all allowed. Pastels and Oil, including water-soluble oil, are NOT allowed. Mixed media and collage are acceptable but only if all elements are made using watermedia created by the artist, no reproductions or preprinted material. Batik, watermedia with wax resist on paper, are accepted in all exhibitions. Rice paper and Tyvek are also permissible.

Are there any additional fees when submitting to an exhibition?

Anyone not using an Airfloat StrongBox™ or comparable foam lined box will be subject to a $25 fee.   In some cases there are additional shipping and handling fees imposed by show venues. These will be noted on the exhibition prospectus.

What is the artist agreement/disclaimer?

Each artist when submitting to a GWS exhibition, must complete and sign an agreement/disclaimer attesting that the rules outlined in the prospectus have been followed.  No paintings juried into the exhibition will be hung without a signed disclaimer form. GWS reserves the right to remove any painting that does not comply with the exhibition requirements and can retroactively rescind any awards or recognition that may have been received post jurying.

What happens if I change or don’t deliver a painting that has been accepted into a GWS exhibition?

Work that has been accepted for an exhibition must be received by the final delivery date. No work may be withdrawn before the close of the exhibition. Once the artist’s painting has been accepted, the artist may not substitute another work, may not modify the painting in any way, nor change the sale price. If the work has been changed from the JPG entry image, it will be excluded from the show. In the event of such an exclusion or if the accepted piece is not delivered, the artist will be ineligible to enter any GWS show for ONE year.

Can someone be banned from an Exhibition?

Anyone who attempts to influence, intimidate, and/or harass a judge, exhibitor, board member or exhibition committee member can be banned from the current exhibition and from future entry in GWS’s exhibitions by vote of the board.

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