Author Archives: rswblog

Talented Young Artists Win Watercolour Awards

2018 is the Year of Young People in Scotland and it was exciting to see five talented young watercolour artists winning awards at the 137th Open Annual Exhibition.

Alice Campbell with her award winning painting

Twenty two year old artist Alice Campbell (above) won the £3,000 Alexander Graham Munro Travel for the best painting submitted by an artist under 30 years old.  Now based in Edinburgh, she graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design University of Dundee in 2017 and previously won the RSW Watermark Award.

The award winning painting ‘Le Fumeur’ was inspired by finding an old cigarette packet under the floorboards in her parents’ house and the idea of seeing a small part of the life of someone else who had lived in the same house.

She said about winning the award “I was completely shocked to receive this Award – but absolutely delighted. I would love to take the opportunity to travel to the Far East to get some inspiration. I’ve travelled to that part of the world before – in 2016 I went to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – and the effect on my work was tremendous so I’d love to go back Receiving this award is such an exciting opportunity for me as a young and emerging artist and it will make a huge impact on my practice.”

Anna Mickevica with her award winning painting

Latvian born Anna Mickevica (above), who also graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee in 2017, won the £50 RSW Watermark Award.  She is continuing her studies at Edinburgh College of Art and the winning painting ‘Nude 7’ was an experimental work made especially for the RSW exhibition. The aim was to create an expressive work while still capturing the elements of a figure using watercolours on paper and this experiment led to her developing a new uncontrived way of expression.

Amelia Busk won the new £300 Scottish Artists’ Benevolent Association Award.  She graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh in 2017, and her painting ‘Anthea’ is part of a personal project motivated by the history behind a chinoiserie wallpaper that her grandfather smuggled to England.

Alison Gray with her award winning painting

Alison Gray, who graduated from Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University in 2017, won the £300 RSW Student Prize. The winning painting ‘Lost Land’ was inspired by her appreciation of the unspoilt beauty of the Caithness landscape. Now based in Glasgow, she said “The barren land holds many secrets to our past with archeological finds and peat bogs that perfectly preserve any objects consumed. The painting has been built up through thin layers of paint and scratched away in parts, mimicking the action of the crofters digging for peat, reclaiming the past, and highlights the special relationship man has with land. “

Hannah Mooney (below), who graduated in 2017 from Glasgow School of Art, won the House for an Art Lover Award for ‘Looking Towards the Ferry Home, Evening’ which is based on a plein-air sketch completed beside the Lough Swilly in Co. Donegal, Ireland.

Hannah Mooney with her award winning painting




137th RSW Open Annual Exhibition Celebrating Scottish Watercolours

The 137th RSW Open Annual Exhibition opens 5 February at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh presenting over 180 new works by established and emerging Scottish watercolour artists.  It was open to all artists in Scotland and runs until 8 March 2018.

Enclosure Janet Melrose RSW

A new work by Janet Melrose RSW features on our catalogue, poster and newsletter,  Over the past two years she has been visiting archaeological sites around Scotland, interested in the way we connect with an area of landscape and use it as a meeting point or as a burial site. The lichen growing along a branch is more likely to be the catalyst for a painting rather than a “view”. Her new painting, Enclosure, came about from making a connection between marks on the surface of a rock and the bigger landscape.  She uses lines and arrows to describe and record wind direction, sunlight or the flight of birds.

We are also delighted to be holding several free demonstrations and events when a selection of RSW Members will be in the Galleries working on paintings to demonstrate their work and will be ready to answer questions on materials, techniques and methods.

Sat 10 February 2018: 11am – 1pm
Portrait artist Aine Devine RSW will demonstrate her technique by focusing on how she paints an eye.
Sat 24 February 2018: 2 – 4pm
Artists Angus McEwan RSW RWS RGI and Jean Martin RSW will be demonstrating how they work with sketchbooks and materials to develop ideas.
Thurs 1 March 2018: 5.15pm – 6.30pm – Words on Watercolour
Writers from the group Words on Canvas will read poetry and prose inspired by different paintings in the exhibition.   When possible the artist is also there to talk briefly about their inspiration before hearing the stories the work ignited in the mind of the writers.  It is a fascinating way to tour the exhibition.

The exhibition in the Lower Galleries, Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, Edinburgh is open Mon to Fri 10am to 5pm and Sunday 12 to 5pm, and admission is free.

Award Winning Artists at 136th Annual Exhibition

Eighteen awards were presented at the RSW 136th Annual Exhibition opening and here is our first selection of winners.


Wei Shu Xin, 22, won the £3000 Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award for the best painting submitted by an artist under 30 years old.  She was born in Hong Kong and is currently a postgraduate student at Glasgow School of Art.  She said “I am really happy that my work has being selected. Since I have a very strong interest in my motherland culture, I would like to investigate the differences in the western and eastern culture, as a way for better interpretation of my experience of the Chinese ideology.”  Her painting ‘Facing the City – Dream’ is a series of paintings based on a scene where her friend Alex closed his eyes and fell slightly asleep while sitting on a bench in a park next to a very busy street which inspired her to create the journey between the city, forest, reality and dream.

ir425134The £300 RSW Student Prize, selected from work by graduates during the Degree Shows in 2016 was won by Gray’s School of Art graduate Katie Watson, currently on a year residency at Leith School of Art.  Discussing her painting ‘Walled garden with wheelbarrow’ she said “I am fascinated by the abstract patterns and structures human beings impose on nature in order to control it and had been looking at some really old diagrams of early botanical and Baroque-style gardens.  This painting is loosely based on the early botanic garden of Leiden in the Netherlands. This type of garden was symbolically divided into quarters; each quarter represented a ‘corner’ or a continent of the Earth, and was filled with plants collected from these places.  These gardens are the result of human beings travelling far and becoming ‘masters’ of the Earth.”

ir425236-ann-rossThe City of Glasgow College Award was won by Edinburgh artist, Ann Ross RSW for her work ‘Aviary’ which will be purchased by the City of Glasgow College Art Foundation for the college collection.  Discussing the painting she said “I think people have enjoyed the company of birds throughout history for food and communication, but also for the beauty of their movement, song and colour. My aviary paintings are inspired by memories of various birds and their ‘houses’ – simple or elaborate shelters for garden birds or bright budgerigars and parrots, racing and fancy pigeons or beautiful pale doves. Some have been grandly designed as part of elegant gardens; others colourfully made with any material to hand. All an endless delight to view.”

ir424789Artist Chris Bushe RSW won the Walter Scott Award for his painting ‘White Tide, Pale Rocks, Saligo Bay’.  He said “The painting is of one of my favourite places on Islay, Saligo Bay. I have painted many different locations on the island since first visiting it ten years ago but I keep being drawn back to Saligo Bay. It is a westward facing bay where the Atlantic continually seems to pound in, crashing over almost otherworldly rocks no matter what the season.”

ir424968Sandi Anderson won the £1000 House for an Art Lover Award for her diptych ‘Hofsos Basalt 1&2’ which was made in her Icelandic studio during a residency in 2016.  She explains “The landscape is breath-taking around every bend.  Familiar – yet more dramatic than home. Something that always stopped me in my tracks was basalt. It is a mystery and a wonder. I spent hours seeking it out and staring at it. Wandering over it and photographing it. Drawing it and sighing at it. Out of all the basalt outcrops I stumbled across, the most unusual by far was a small black cluster on the shoreline at Hofsos, where the hexagonal columns had circular cores and this diptych is a response to its unusual characteristics.”


michael-clark-rsw-with-suzanne-hay-ruthven-gallery-and-his-award-winning-paintingMichael G Clark RSW won the new Ruthven Gallery Award presented by the gallery in Auchterarder. Talking about the painting, ‘Paris in the Rain’, he said “Paris has inspired me since I first visited as an art student in the 1980s. I prefer Paris in the Autumn or Winter when the trees are losing their leaves and you can see the buildings. The painting shows a fleeting moment – just a hint of a woman heading to a cafe…  Paris for me is life to be lived and watercolour is the perfect medium to hint at wet streets and moody skies.”

The 136th Annual Exhibition features work by over 120 leading and emerging artists from across Scotland and is open daily from 10am-5pm until 28 January 2017 at the Royal Scottish Academy Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh and admission is free.

January Opening for 136th Annual Exhibition

Picture Copyright Chris Watt  Tel -  07887 554 193 Invited American artists Bruce Bobick (left) and Mark E Mehaffey AWS-DF NWS (right) in front of their work with RSW President Jim Dunbar

Artist Jim Dunbar, who was elected President of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in October last year,  presented the awards at the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour 136th Annual Exhibition which recently opened at the Royal Scottish Academy Building in Edinburgh.

The exhibition is open until 28 January 2017 and features over 120 new paintings by both established and emerging artists from across Scotland with works by new graduates from the 2016 Degree Shows and invited American artists (pictured in front of their work with RSW President Jim Dunbar) Bruce Bobick (left) and Mark E Mehaffey AWS-DF NWS (right).

There is a free programme of events in the exhibition at weekends.  On Sat 21 January RSW artists Gregor Smith & Jim Dunbar will be explaining their methods and answering questions from 11-1pm, and Jim is also there from 2-4pm.  RSW artist Douglas Davies will be discussing his approach and techniques on 11-1pm.

136th RSW Winter Annual Exhibition
Upper Galleries, RSA Building
The Mound, Edinburgh
9 – 28 January 2017
Open daily 10am-5pm
Admission Free

First Visit to Stirling by RSW

The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour is visiting Stirling for the first time with an open exhibition at the Stirling Smith Gallery from 8 Oct to 20 Nov 2016.

The exhibition, which was open to all watercolour artists in Scotland, features paintings by RSW Members alongside works by talented artists from across the country including the city of Stirling and Stirlingshire.  One of the Stirling artists is June Carey RSW, and her work The Messenger features in the exhibition.


Talking about this painting she explained “”The Messenger” was part of a new series of work which was inspired by a visit to Holywood Palace in Edinburgh. I came across particular piece of jewellery which fascinated me. It was a brooch in the form of a pelican. The bird had pierced her breast to feed her young. The Angel in the painting is carrying “the brooch” and he is the messenger.”

Over the years the RSW has exhibited in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh, Forfar, Glasgow and Perth.

RSW President, John Inglis said “We’re delighted to have this opportunity to visit Stirlingshire, a part of Scotland which has influenced and inspired many artists.  Some of the contemporary works in the exhibition would astonish the RSW’s early members: by their scale, range of pigment, and the imaginative use of what now is termed water-based media.  We hope visitors to the exhibition will enjoy this showcase of exciting and original watercolour painting.”

The exhibition is supported by James D Bilsland and the Scottish Government in conjunction with Arts & Business Scotland.

RSW Autumn Open Exhibition
Stirling Smith Art Gallery
Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK8 2RQ
8 October – 20 November 2016
Tues – Sat 10.30am – 5pm Sun 2-5pm
Admission Free

Summer Watercolour Showcase Returns to Forfar

Our 5th Annual Summer Exhibition has returned for a third visit to the Meffan Museum & Art Gallery in Forfar.  The exhibition, which was open to all watercolour artists in Scotland, features over 180 new works by some of Scotland’s leading artists alongside talented young artists from across the country.  A wide variety of subjects and styles of painting means there is something for everyone to enjoy.

And he was king of the golden mountain (Ben Vrackie) David Forster RSW

And he was king of the golden mountain (Ben Vrackie) David Forster RSW

The featured painting in this exhibition is And he was king of the golden mountain (Ben Vrackie) by David Forster RSW.  Explaining the inspiration behind the painting he said “In my early paintings, I became fascinated by the way in which nature creeps back into the urban space, and the way in which we model parks and planted spaces to evoke an idealised sense of our relationship with nature.  As my work has moved out of the city, this balance has reversed, with the man-made now often but a tiny element dwarfed by the wild.

“In this view from the flanks of Ben Vrackie near Pitlochry, the frozen loch in the valley is artificially dammed and footpaths thread the hill behind. I like the denial here of the sublime delusion of pure wilderness, with its reminder that the highland landscape is itself an artifice created by the ancient felling of the Caledonian forest, and that there are towns and roads nearby.

“Because I like to test our common culture regarding such places, I take the titles of my work from Grimm’s Fairytales, with their shared inheritance landscape description. Finally, of course, the title in this case also serves as a memento of the splendour of such a climb.”

RSW 5th Summer Open Annual Exhibition
Meffan Museum & Art Gallery
20 West High Street, Forfar
30 April – 29 May 2016
Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm
Admission Free

Royal Support for Scottish Watercolour Painting Continues

HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay has extended his patronage of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) until April 2020.

The RSW was founded in 1878 by a group of artists who wanted to encourage and promote watercolour painting in Scotland.  Queen Victoria granted Royal status in 1888 and continued these Royal links, with HRH The Duke of Rothesay taking over as Patron of the Society in February 2003, following the death of The Queen Mother who had been Patron since 1938.

President of the RSW, John Inglis, said “We are the only Society dedicated to promoting watercolour painting in Scotland and are delighted and honoured that HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay will continue as our Royal Patron.  We pride ourselves on our distinguished history and in our forward looking approach to encouraging watercolour painting.  Our annual open winter and summer exhibitions are key dates on the Scottish arts calendar bringing together leading and emerging Scottish artists.

“In our 2015 Winter Annual Exhibition we showcased works by 10 Chinese professional artists and a selection from the International prize ‘Marche d’Acqua’ Fabriano Watercolour 2014 along with invited works by recent graduates from the Scottish art colleges.”

The RSW 135th Annual Exhibition will take place in 2016 showcasing new work by artists from across Scotland and presenting awards including the £3000 Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award which is presented for the best work submitted by an artist under the age of 30. In past years it has been won by young artists from Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.