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History and Statement of Purpose

In 1976, Nora Stevens and Sybil Olson attended an Ed Whitney workshop, discovered a passion for transparent watercolor and decided to begin a society for their region, the Midwest Watercolor Society. The first annual meeting was held on August 6, 1977 at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth, Minnesota where Nora Stevens presided as President.

The first dues paying member and logo designer was Zoltan Szabo who also held a position on the governing board along with Nora Stevens, Frank Webb, Cheng-Khee Chee, Irving Shapiro and Phil Austin. In 1977 the first annual exhibition of transparent watercolors was held and through the years has been juried by some of the most respected watercolor painters of all time. In 2003 the President, Tom Francesconi, recognized that the society had grown from regional to national status and the Midwest Watercolor Society became the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. From a membership of 185 artists the first year, TWSA moved into the new millennium with well over 1,000 members and includes artists from across North America, all with a common dedication to transparent watercolor.

From its inception, the purpose of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America has been to advance the stature and foster appreciation of watercolor as a major medium. TWSA is dedicated to advancing this goal and providing to our ever growing membership of professional, amateur, student and patron members not only an artistic forum but beyond that national exhibitions, recognition, potential for signature and master status, educational opportunities and services as we secure for our society a place of honor in the larger art community.

Modern technology has produced many new "water-based media" products, referring to any medium that is resoluble in water. There are numerous watercolor societies that now provide opportunities to exhibit these new products while TWSA remains dedicated to its original purpose. TWSA recognizes an important distinction between "transparent watercolor" and "water-based mediums," and as such moves forward with its mission, to preserve and promote the unique characterof transparent watercolor as a major medium.