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Spring Hill Artist Named Among World’s Top Watercolorists

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A Hernando artist has been named one of the top watercolor artists globally, with her work being captured in ‘just the right light’ on the worldwide art scene.

Karen Heidler of Spring Hill painted an image of her cat that has achieved international acclaim in the arts community. This painting, “The Master’s Light,” has been selected as a First Prize Winner to hang at the auspicious universal art exhibit known as the International Watercolor Master’s Exhibition. Of 2,755 entries from 105 countries, only ten artists were chosen in this competition as first-prize winners–handpicked to hang their paintings along with the top watercolorists in the world.

As a part of Heidler’s exalted honor in the IWM2024 Contest, “The Master’s Light” will be exhibited along with the world’s greatest watercolor masters at Lilleshall Hall in Shropshire, England, May 15-24, 2024, for a historic exhibition. The event, organized by David Poxon and judged by 24 jurors, will include workshops and demonstrations. Poxon is a watercolor master artist, author, juror and curator.
Heidler is thrilled and honored to be chosen as a distinguished winner in this exhibit. “As a watercolorist who loves to paint in high realism, I’ve been entering national shows and studying other artists who paint that way as well,” she said. “The more aware I am of what can be done with watercolor, the more I push myself to see how realistic I can get with the medium. As I enter national shows, I love going to the exhibits and meeting the other artists.”

And when it comes to this esteemed competition, Heidler has painted her way to the top. “I found out about the biennial International Watercolor Masters Exhibit from other artists who participated in it. In addition to their exhibit, they also have a contest for watercolorists to enter,” she said. “There’s a top 200 award that I received in 2022. There is also a First Prize Award for the top 10 artists selected. Those ten artists are invited to hang their paintings along with the watercolor master at the exhibit. This year, I was among those honored Top Ten!”

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Heidler counts this honor as the pinnacle of her artistic career. “I have never been so elated to receive an award!” she said. “It was a surreal moment when I realized I had achieved something I have been working toward for many years: to be a top watercolorist in the world. This is the highest honor I have ever received in my art career! Now, not only do I get to hang my paintings along with the top artists in the world, but I plan to go and meet them as well! What an honor that will be to meet so many amazing watercolorists from all over the world!”

Heidler’s winning portrait is a very personal work. “My painting that was accepted, “The Master’s Light,” is of my cat, Maggie,” she revealed. “I caught Maggie lying on a pile of clean laundry as the light was streaming in the bedroom window. I grabbed my camera and began a little photo shoot. The bright light and the contrast of the dark background created a chiaroscuro effect. I knew that would make a great painting. The whiskers on the cat were masked out, as was the horizon line, as I painted the background in several layers. Once the background was dry, I removed the masking fluid and tape and painted the foreground.”

“I love bringing the scene to life as I painted it,” Heidler continued. “It’s a lengthy process but a gratifying one.”

2024 promises to be another banner year for this award-winning artist, who last year was a featured artist in The 46th Annual Southern Watercolor Society’s Member Exhibition. Her artwork, The Last Stop, was selected along with 103 other artists by the Southern Watercolor Society, chosen from 313 entries. Those members can reside in the District of Columbia or one of the following southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia or West Virginia.

The 46th Annual Southern Watercolor Society’s Member Exhibition ran June 9-June 29, 2023, at Panama City Center for the Arts, Panama City, Florida.

“The Last Stop” depicts a large piece of driftwood about 6 feet tall on the beach of Little Gasparilla Island. The driftwood is adorned with shells, feathers, styrofoam buoys and other found objects.
“The mystery of the places the driftwood has traveled is what Karen found intriguing and inspired her to paint it,” read an event description. “Karen won a Sapphire Award, which was 1 of 11 cash awards.”

View the exhibit online here:
https://www.southernwatercolorsociety.org/copy-of-45th-exhibition
For more about Karen Heidler’s work, visit www.karenheidler.com.

Karen Heidler's "The Master's Light." [Courtesy photo]
Karen Heidler’s “The Master’s Light.” [Courtesy photo]

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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