Frequently Asked Questions About TnWS Programs

How does the Tennessee Watercolor Society (TnWS) define watercolor painting?

In today’s world, watercolor societies are actually watermedia societies that teach, promote and exhibit work using water soluble paint on paper in an aqueous manner. The simple explanation of aqueous is “no lumps.” Paint is applied in thin layers but may be traditional watercolor paint or acrylic. Many of our artists work in watermedia on surfaces other than paper. While we may not accept some of those alternative surfaces in our Biennial Exhibition, we have recently agreed to accept them in the online show. We sometimes have awards for “totally transparent watercolor,” which means no opaque paint even though water-based. Water-based media is continuing to evolve, and new products put our standards to the test with every exhibition, so we try to balance our mission to preserve the “Beauty of Watercolor” and the desire to embrace the evolution of the medium.

What are the major sponsored events of the TnWS?

The TnWS holds two major juried exhibitions, held in alternating years: our Biennial Exhibition, held since 1972, and our Online Exhibition, held since 2013.

Who is eligible to enter TnWS Exhibitions?

  • Our Biennial Exhibition is open to any Tennessee resident, 18 years or older – even if not a TnWS member. Nonmembers, however, pay a higher entry fee.
  • Our Online Exhibition is open only to dues-paying TnWS members.

Who can become a TnWS member?

Our organization is open to anyone 18 years or older who resides in Tennessee or who works or resides in a greater metropolitan area bordering Tennessee’s state line. Members who move to another state can maintain their membership by continuing to pay dues each year.

What’s the cost of membership?

Dues are $35 annually, payable by January 1, for an Associate, Active or Signature Membership.

What’s the difference between an Associate Member, an Active Member and a Signature Member?

When you join the TnWS and begin paying dues, you are an Associate Member. After acceptance into one juried TnWS Biennial Exhibition, you become an Active Member. After acceptance into three TnWS Biennial Exhibitions, you gain Signature status.

What’s a TnWS Patron Membership?

Patron members in the TnWS are individuals who make annual contributions of $50 or more to the TnWS. You don’t have to be a watercolor artist to become a patron. Patron members are not eligible to vote or hold office but can receive TnWS publications and attend meetings.

What benefits will I receive if I join TnWS?

As a TnWS member you become part of a lively community in Tennessee dedicated to advancing watermedia as an art form. If you are a TnWS member, you can submit works to the TnWS Biennial Exhibitions at half the entrance fee and are exclusively eligible to enter our Online Exhibition (held in odd-numbered years). Members can also attend TnWS business meetings and vote for officers; get first placement and member pricing in TnWS-sponsored workshops; are included in the Members Gallery on the TnWS website; can exhibit in non-juried shows organized through our different regions; and receive all TnWS publications (Medium, ArtBeat, and full-color Biennial Exhibition catalog).

Where are Biennial Exhibitions usually held?

Our Biennial Exhibition and its opening events are rotated geographically among our five Tennessee membership regions: Region 1-Memphis, Region II-Nashville, Region III-Chattanooga, Region IV-Knoxville, and Region V-Tri-Cities. In months following each exhibition’s opening, a juror-selected collection of paintings is then rotated to other exhibition venues located in our five membership regions. The works are exhibited for about a month at each location.

When are TnWS Biennial Exhibitions usually held and what special events surround their openings?

Biennial Exhibition openings are usually held in the month of May and include two or three days of activities for TnWS members and patrons. These activities vary but generally include social gatherings for member networking, a watermedia workshop conducted by the juror, product demonstrations and a TnWS membership meeting. Opening activities change from year to year, based on each show’s location and recommendations made by the TnWS Exhibition Committee. Some activities require prior registration. Our members are also often involved in opening events for the general public, such as watermedia demonstrations by TnWS members and a Members’ Market Place that features art items for sale by TnWS members and friends.

Can I register for Biennial Exhibition opening activities on the TnWS website?

Yes, registration forms for opening activities will be posted in late winter on our official website. Our jurors, who also teach a workshop associated with the Biennial Exhibition, are chosen from among top-ranking U.S. watermedia artists. These workshops are conducted for TnWS members at a price far less than found at other venues. Also, registration opens earlier for members. Online is the quick and easy way to register for the juror-taught workshop and other opening activities using PayPal or your credit card. Or you can register by mail and send a check.

What steps do I need to take for entering a TnWS exhibition?

Rules, instructions and forms for entering any TnWS exhibition will be posted on this website under “Exhibitions.” Watch for a call for entries via the website or in Medium or ArtBeat publications.

What kinds of art works are eligible for acceptance in TnWS exhibitions?

  • Only original work in water-based media, executed in an aqueous manner, on paper or paper-mounted board may be entered.
  • Any work executed in an instructional workshop is not eligible for entry.
  • Collage elements may only be hand-painted papers.
  • Copyright materials, photographs, machine or computer generated images are not eligible.
  • All paintings submitted must have been completed during the past three years and not have been shown in any previous juried TnWS exhibition.

Please define “original painting”?

It means you have to use your 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.

What are the general matting and framing requirements for TnWS-sponsored exhibitions?

  • All entries must be under Plexiglas (no glass) and in good condition sized for the frame.
  • Mat board must be acid-free, white or off-white core with white core.
  • Multiple mats must be the same color. No color liners or fillers.
  • Framing should be simple in design – wood or metal – in good condition and constructed well enough to withstand shipping and handling. Frames must have wire hangers with the ends taped (no saw-tooth hangers).
  • Framed paintings shouldn’t be larger than 48 inches or an image size no smaller than 10 inches in any direction.

Can collage be used within my submitted paintings?

Watermedia must be the dominant element. The only collage allowed is paper, hand painted by the artist. Photographs or printed materials as collage are not allowed.

How can I participate in sponsoring exhibition activities or donating money for TnWS Awards?

Businesses, organizations, suppliers and nonmember individuals wishing to inquire about sponsoring an award may contact any local member, the chairperson for the exhibition or any officer or board member by using contact information provided on this website. The minimum stand-alone award is $250, but smaller amounts can be combined with other awards. All sponsors are recognized in our Biennial Exhibition catalog.

You can also assist our organization and further the arts in Tennessee by sponsoring TnWS exhibition events, regional shows and other activities.

ArtBeat Newsletter