Author Archives: rswblog

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.

Summer Showcase of Watercolours Returns to Ayr

Our 4th Open Annual Summer Exhibition, featuring leading and emerging Scottish artists,  returns for a second visit to The Maclaurin Art Gallery in Ayr this summer.

RSW President, John Inglis said “We’re delighted to have this opportunity to return to Ayrshire, a part of Scotland which has influenced and inspired many artists.  We hope visitors to the exhibition will enjoy this vibrant showcase of watercolour painting.”

The Dark Pool, Janet Melrose RSW

The Dark Pool, Janet Melrose RSW

The RSW is unique in Scotland as it is the only Society specifically for the promotion of watercolour painting and it has a distinguished history.  It was granted Royal Status by Queen Victoria in 1888, and Members have included artists such as William McTaggart and Sir William Gillies.

The first RSW Annual Summer exhibition was held at the Maclaurin Art Gallery in 2012 and since then has visited Perth Museum and Art Gallery and The Meffan in Forfar.

4th Annual Summer Exhibition
Maclaurin Art Gallery, Rozelle Park, Monument Road, Ayr KA7 4NQ
26 April – 25 May 2015.  Open Mon-Sat 10am to 5pm, Sun 12 to 5pm.
Admission Free

An Imaginative Response in Words to Paintings

No-one Knew by Alice McMurrough RSW

No-one Knew by Alice McMurrough RSW

Words on Canvas
Thursday 29 January 2015
5.15pm – 6.45pm

Take your imagination on a journey in an evening of poetry and prose inspired by the paintings in the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour 134th Annual Exhibition in the Royal Scottish Academy Building, The Mound, Edinburgh.

Travel from one gallery to another, meeting a new writer in each room who will read a poem or prose they have written inspired by one of the paintings in the room.  Meet 7 writers in 70 minutes and enjoy viewing the exhibition.  Tickets £5 include a glass of wine.

Book by visiting or calling the Sales Desk in the exhibition on 0131 624 6479.

About the writers who are all part of the group Words on Canvas:

NORMA BROWN               
Inspired by artist Stanley James Bird

I’m blessed to live in a most beautiful part of the Scottish Borders surrounded by a wealth of talented folk.  I came late to writing but have always loved the sound of words.  Quoting Paul Klee, ‘taking a line for a walk’ across a blank sheet of paper is always an adventure.  It is a privilege to be a member of the Words on Canvas group and to enjoy looking at and writing about art.  To quote Klee again, ‘one eye sees, the other feels’.

SUSAN GRANT                  
Inspired by artist Darren Woodhead

From the days of ‘The cat sat on the mat’, poetry had me hooked.  Years in journalism meant the emphasis was on prose, then a career in education was spent transferring skills.  Retirement brought a re-awakening to poetry and Word on Canvas has been such an inspiration for me.  As well as a deeper insight into Art I have learned so much from our writing tutors and enjoy the camaraderie and support of other members of the group.

Inspired by artists Emma S Davis RSW and James Spence RSW          

Henry Marsh was born in Broughty Ferry and now lives in Midlothian.  He has had five collections of poetry published and has worked with the Australian artist Kim Needle to produce poems for exhibition catalogues.  His themes recently have been taken from Scottish history and has written widely about his beloved islands – particularly the Uists.  He has read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and will be reading at STAnza, the St Andrews poetry festival in March.

Inspired by  artists John Inglis RSW, Ann Ross RSW and Christopher Wood RSW

LesleyMay Miller started writing when she was studying as a mature student for her degree in ceramics and printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art.  Since then she has exhibited widely, creating a sculpture garden in the Borders and putting her words on ceramic panels and leaves.  She makes artists’ books combining her interests in visual art and words and is now working in soundscapes.  She gives readings of her poetry, including for the Poetry Association of Scotland.  A member of Dunbar Writers, she enjoys the Words on canvas Group.  LesleyMay will be exhibiting at Aikwood in Selkirk in September 2015.

Inspired by artist John Inglis RSW

Mary Johnston writes poetry in the dialect of the North East of Scotland known as the Doric.  She has been published in several magazines and was the winning poet of the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2014. She has produced several pamphlets of her poetry, each accompanied with a C.D. to keep the sound of her grandparents’ dialect alive.

Inspired by artist Ann Wegmuller RSW

Kirsteen Scott was born and brought up in Mid-Argyll where story telling and song were an important part of her early life. The land and the language strongly influence her writing.  She describes herself as a ‘lazy’ writer, enjoying the taste of words and snatching at ideas that flirt with her eye or her ear.  She has been published in Cencrastus and New Writing Scotland.

Inspired by artist Alice McMurrough RSW

I have been travelling with poetry for seven years now.  Poetry allows me to play with words and poetic forms while I try to make sense of ‘life, the universe and everything.’  Both of these are stimulated by the inspiration that comes from engaging with visual art works.  Although I am a long standing member of Words on Canvas, this is my first chance to collaborate with the RSW and I am looking forward to see where this step on the journey will take me.