A Lake For All Seasons: Abstract Compositions





Grand Lake in Winter                                                           Grand Lake in Summer

I experimented with tissue paper, paint, and Elmers glue on butcher paper; mountains, snow, brilliant colors from the sun appeared as I worked.  The resulting paint skins lifted from the butcher paper after the glue dried serve as stimuli for collage paintings in my Grand Lake series.  I see motion and contrasts and feel the excitement and mystery engendered by the mountains and Grand Lake.


Green Progression A Non-Figurative Abstraction


Green Progression A Non-Figurative Abstract

Final Texas Paintings!

I poured, brushed, scraped shades of green and purple paint(water based) on a cotton surface sealed with media.  As I worked a clear green progression appeared, linked with its “friend” purple.  A study in color and shapes?  I started painting with no end in sight. As I worked, lines and shapes moved throughout as if something (my art trance) outside my conscious mind was moving my hands toward non-figurative abstraction. . .  Perhaps fueled by the Texas heat.

Should this be a diptych?


Reds and Blues A Non-Figurative Abstraction Perhaps?


Reds and Blues A Non-Figurative Abstraction

Final Texas Paintings!

I poured, brushed, and scraped red and blue water based paints of many shades with random movements and no end result plan.   Shapes and lines appeared on a sealed cotton background; depth comes with the many (10+) layers.  I see vaguely defined figures perhaps from my drawings of petroglyphs but there was no conscious effort to paint or draw specific shapes.   These timeless figures are firmly implanted.  While I worked, I moved out of my consciousness into a spirit world…difficult to quantify and perhaps fueled by the Texas heat.  My husband calls this my art trance.  Finished?  Advise.

Trinity 3rd Annual Art Show, September 26-28, 2014, The Woodlands, Texas

Semi abstract abstract, layered

          El Dorado: Snow in the Andes


Media:  Mixed Water media, alcohol inks, cold wax sealer, papers on on board

Size: 24 ” x 30″. Mixed water media, alcohol inks, on canvas with handcrafted frame

Price:  $ 475.00

This drawing was done while traveling in Palo Duro Canyon and painted on paper heavily textured with sand and media.  The sun filters through the fog in the morning hours.  I used sgraffito, scratching to reveal color and shapes in the layers below, resulting in unpredictable yet exciting results with strange color juxtapositions and rich textures.  The ancient nature of these canyons is revealed.   Such is the power of art.  Painting speaks louder and more powerfully than words.


El Dorado: Snow in the Andes

Media:  mixed water media, alcohol inks, cold wax (sealer) on canvas,

Size:  24” x 30” (with hand crafted frame, approximately one inch)

Price:  $475.00

The drawing started in the Big Bend of Texas one cold day and continued in the Andes in Ecuador.  The ever present fog filtered strange and brilliant moon lights.  The mysterious presence reminded me of the never found El Dorado and treasure of Atahualpa, tragic Inca emperor.   As in a palimpsest (a manuscript overwritten), surfaces were sanded, scraped and painted again, with traces of older shapes and textures showing.  This process accumulates overlapping layers of partially erased shapes.  My art is an adventure in an illusory world free of constraint and external rules.



Media:  Collage with Mixed Water media, alcohol inks, cold wax sealer, papers on canvas

Size: 8”x8”

Price:  $ 175.00

This collage came together when texturing a canvas.  Shapes emerged floating around a center circle and cruciform shape.  The idea of in the beginning was the word and the word was . . .  comes to mind I speculate what word means in the context. Can word be presented visually?  In order to portray the mysteries of the creation more than 50 layers were painted, sanded back; more shapes were discovered. With multiple layers the final piece has the look of faux encaustic.  Painting speaks louder and more powerfully than words.

Margaret Watts

2014 Society of Layerists in Multi-Media Exhibition

The 2014 SLMM Exhibition at the Hays Art Center, Hayes Kansas, August22-October 5 features juried works by full and associate members. My pieces, Art is My Home, and Home after Katrina were juried into the show.


Art is My Home,  

Media:  mixed water media, alcohol inks, cold wax (sealer) and papers on watercolor paper on board

Size:  22.5” x 14.75” (with frame)

Price:  $675.00

Art is literally my home.  Recently I moved from my residence of 50 years taking my art with me.  In this journey process, I realized that art is really the center of my consciousness.  Memories of my home and travels of a life time leave varied visual images.  In this piece, North and South Native American symbols abound in two loosely interconnecting circles.  In my new and so comfortable home, shapes, lines, colors, and symbols (including shoes) abound.  A sole child’s shoe floats on the left facing side and a cowboy boot and a high heeled boot support the circle facing right side.  Strange creatures perhaps artists move throughout the piece creating motion and depth in the 20 plus layers.  As in a palimpsest (an overwritten document), surfaces were sanded, scraped and painted again, with traces of older shapes and textures showing.  This process accumulates overlapping layers of partially erased shapes. My art is an adventure in an illusory world free of constraint and without external rules.

Watts3homeafterkatrina framedslmm

Home after Katrina

Media:  Mixed Water media, alcohol inks, cold wax sealer, papers on vinyl on board

Size: 18.75” x 18.75”

Price:  $ 575.00

During the hurricane season of Katrina, Rita, and subsequent tornadoes, we expected rain and winds but not the damage that hit my home 200 miles north of the coast.  In a wine dark sky, winds took off my roof and uprooted a 200 year old cedar tree missing my back wall by inches.  My piece shows flying tree parts with bursts of thunder and lightning.  The roofless home seems vulnerable as rain pours in torrents.  Shapes intersect to denote motion and 2 disintegrating shoes appear in the right facing side of the piece.  I started with black and white paint; in finishing I used very little black paint.  In order to emphasize the blackness (presence of all color), I layered reds, turquoises, blues and spots of yellow to enrich the darkness.  The addition of red and purple alcohol inks created a sense of warmth in the foundation of my home which did survive.  In layering, I used sgraffito, scratching to reveal color and shapes in the layers below, resulting in unpredictable yet exciting results with strange color juxtapositions and rich textures.  Completing this piece was cathartic even many years after the events; some emotions are best rendered visually.  Such is the power of art. Painting speaks louder and more powerfully than words.

2014 SLMM Conference


Society of Layerists in Multimedia

2014 SLMM Conference

October 1-5 in Hays, KS

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express, 4650 Roth Ave., Hays, KS Call for reservations: 1–785–625–8000

2014 SLMM Dual Exhibitions

Hays Arts Center

August 22nd – October 5th

Theme: There’s No Place Like Home

Closing Reception: Friday, October 3rd

The exhibition will be the feature show for the annual fall art walk.

Full & Lifetime Members will exhibit in the main gallery


Margaret Watts – her piece “Therapy” (on first page of this newsletter) won 2nd place at the Watercolor Art Society – Houston (WAS-H) Show in April. Judge

Trudy Askew called Therapy “an elegant painting full of exquisite design and nonobjective imagery. It is a painting that one could look at for a lifetime. It reminds me of Nelson Rockefeller’s thoughts on why he preferred abstract, nonobjective paintings to realistic art. A painting of a tree, for instance, remains a painting of a tree forever. However a nonobjective piece changes with your moods, and with time. Congratulations!” “I include her comments because they are so relevant to those of us in the abstract realm. The poses were all from the same model and I added special movements reminiscent of my recent painful but successful physical therapy. I am also looking for members in the Houston area who might be interested in painting together.”


West: ● Zentangle Inspired Art Project

“This pencil and ink work is a group project of three members of the West region of The Society of Layerists in Multi Media. It expresses the holistic premise of the society by cooperation, sharing, and learning from each other, as well as the many interconnections which join all parts together into a unified whole. The top three tiles were drawn by Win Ratz, the middle three by Margaret Watts, and the bottom three by Cynthia Ploski. Each one of the artists learned new skills, gained new insights and fresh ideas from this experience of working together. After exhibiting the work it will be donated to a suitable organization.”





The Liz Hill Workshop May 2014

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Liz, a fabulous artist in the Houston area, presented a great collage workshop with models at WAS-H in Houston.

I am quite interested in collage especially since I use whatever makes my paintings work and experimentation is my driving force. Collage is often badly attempted tending to put me off a bit. However, Liz raises it to the high artistic plane. She particularly emphasizes that collage must be integrated into the piece. It doesn’t stand alone!

So this was a good experience for me, drawing with charcoal and using collage to create exciting pieces. I consider one finished, My Favorite Tee Shirt; I painted directly on my drawing adding images. I did not use any texturing so I used the transparency of the paint to emulate depth. She appears to be moving through the piece. What fun! The figure could be contemplating her wealthy lifestyle but using a tee shirt (with an intriguing image) in the title adds irreverence!


My Favorite Tee Shirt

18”x24” Mixed Water Media on paper

The next three pieces need finishing but they are close to done.



15”x22” Mixed Water Media on watercolor paper

The Penseur stared getting complicated as I got involved in her intricate apparel. I wanted to emulate movement within and a sense of depth so I kept adding. As I added I had to integrate collage (tissue paper, pieces of my paintings and designs, dried grasses). Some artists are able to create wonderful pieces with static figures. My right brain kicks in and movement has to happen. She appears to move forward and back into the piece. Hopefully the finished piece was happen tomorrow or someday soon. What is she thinking? What is her next move? The viewer may decide.



15”x22” Mixed Water Media on watercolor paper

 The next piece I call Josephine, after the famous African French dancer. I will calm down the background somewhat and define her figure more closely. The lacy collage came from some drawing stencils I made of snowflakes. The red figures on her hat are dried dyed grass pieces from our Texas summers. She is holding a face (cameo) cut from one of my old paintings.   Much irreverence here. . .



15”x22” Mixed Water Media on watercolor paper

Cybele, the current name, reminds me of an ancient goddess. This could change. I like the transparent area on the left hand (facing piece). Her robes need embellishment and then I think done with some attention to the face and skin. More, Soon

Watercolor Art Society – Houston (WAS-H)

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Juror: Trudy Askew

Friday, April 11, 2014

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Free Admission ~ Wine and Appetizers

Gallery hours: Tues – Sat, 10:00am – 3:00pm

Additional parking in the Menil lot on W Alabama 


Watercolor Art Society-Houston is one of Houston’s
leading art education and exhibition facilities.
Check our website for the current schedule
of classes and workshops.

Our gallery is free and open to the public.
Visiting hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-3pm

Therapy 2nd Place

Margaret Watts




I was delighted with my prize at the April Gallery show. The judge’s comments praised my “bridging the gap” between abstract and figurative. She also mentioned my texture, color, and depth treatment. Her helpful comments concluded with praise for the motion, mystery, and title of the piece. The poses were all from the same model at our Wednesday sessions; I added special movements reminiscent of my recent painful but successful physical therapy.


WAS-H reception

And the judges decide….