There are times when an image crosses your desk, and it captures your attention, despite its rather ordinary composition. In this instance, that image arrived in the form of a small photo depicting an artist standing at the edge of a cliff, looking rather pleased with himself as he grasps the familiar leg of an easel holding his plein air painting. There was nothing particularly striking about the photo itself, and at this first meeting, I merely logged it as interesting, but moved on to other pressing matters. It was the second time the photograph caught my eye, as I was perusing the Whitaker image archives, that I felt compelled to pass it along to the Foundation board, along with a query asking if anyone knew the gentleman in the photo, or could provide any contextual information about why this image might appear in the Whitaker photo archives.
As it so happens, this smiling gentleman, clad in a jaunty angled fedora, was none other than famous watercolor artist Roy Mason. Roy and his wife Lena were longtime friends of the Whitakers, who they met in 1940s while both couples resided in New York. When the Masons moved to La Jolla, CA in the early 1960s, it would be a combination of their warm influence and the enchanting culture and climate of La Jolla, which would persuade Fred and Eileen to join their friends by moving to the area in 1965. Over the coming decades, the friendship between the Masons and Whitakers would continue to grow as both couples flourished within the elite artist community of La Jolla and San Diego. Fred and Roy’s paintings were even featured alongside each other in the late 1960s as part of a group exhibition celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the La Jolla Art Association.
In Roy and Lena, Fred and Eileen found kindred artistic souls, as reflected by the words of Eileen Monaghan Whitaker in the book Contrasts that Complement, where she remarks that
“It was natural to fall in love with Roy the instant you met him – everyone did…Roy was a bright man with broad interests, and a fine painter as well! There was never a more attractive couple than Roy and Lena. It was wonderful for us to have the Masons, such good friends and stimulating people, so close.” (Jennings, 53)
Whether it was hosting a social gathering for the arts, exchanging advice, introducing one another to collectors and patrons, or inspiring each other to continue to refine their skills and achieve new heights of personal and professional success, the legacy of the unique, decades long friendship between the Whitakers and Masons would be the enrichment of both their contemporary artistic community, as well as future generations of watercolor artists.
Meet Jacob Garcia, a junior at University of Houston, who is majoring in Fine Art. We would like to congratulate Jacob on being selected as one of three recipients of our Fall 2016 Honorable Mention Commendations for a Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Foundation Scholarship:
At the University [of Houston] I hope to gain a better understanding of what makes artwork great. So far, I have been learning the fundamentals as I just transferred from a Community College. I have learned important lessons in my classes on how to make artwork stand out in excellence. I learned about composition, and using it to make the piece interesting, dynamic, and to even help guide your eyes around the artwork…
Watercolor seems to be under-appreciated as a medium because I’ve had people look down on me for using them as if I was a child playing with paint. For me watercolor is more than that because it can create beautiful artwork with various techniques and have a transparent look that may be harder to achieve with other paint. After I finish my studies at the University I would like to get a job where I’m able to paint on a daily basis and use watercolor of course. It could be any job ranging from designing hallmark cards with watercolor or working on designs for a film company. I would also like to work from commissions, not only because it’s a guaranteed paycheck but because I know people will ask me paint things I haven’t before. It would be beneficial in that regard because I don’t always get a chance to paint some random texture like wood grain or some things I haven’t thought of yet.
I know my skill is only going to get better because I practice almost every day. I push myself really hard to get where I want to be and even if it’s a little watercolor sketch of a flower or a full figure study that takes a few day, I try to paint every day…It takes many hours to finish a watercolor painting and I want to dedicate my time to my art.
Art students entering today’s professional art and museum world are expected to have rigorous training and a diverse educational background. The Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Scholarship Program was established in 2014 to assist art students whose undergraduate degree includes an emphasis on watercolor or art history/museum studies, in meeting those demands.
Over the course of the application process, students will demonstrate their knowledge of Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker’s paintings and history, by submitting a short essay or the applicant’s own watercolor paintings.
Upon evaluation, scholarships will be awarded for FALL 2016.
DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES IS MAY 31st, 2016
Win a copy of ‘Contrasts that Complement’ by Jan Jennings. This beautiful hardback book chronicles the Whitakers’ life together and their joint passion for art.
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