‘Cool’ award Whitehall artist again honored in national watercolor exhibition
Douglas Wiltraut received a Ruth G. Rosenau Silver Medallion in the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors for “A Cool Sip” (dry brush watercolor, 35 in. x 54 in.).
Wiltraut’s long-time friend, Bob Schaffer, posed for the watercolor near the “Poughkeepsie Bridge,” a 19th-century railroad trestle south of Slatington along the Lehigh River. This is the third time Schaffer modeled for an award-winning work by Wiltraut. The award presentation for “A Cool Sip” was Aug. 4 in Old Forge, N.Y.
“Some of the paintings that I do will be environmental or social statements,” Wiltraut says.
“‘A Cool Sip’ is about the quality of the water today. This is, more or less, a scene that we used to see when we were kids, when you could still drink safely out of a stream. Now you really can’t do that without a big risk.”
Other works by Wiltraut in the same vein include “Old News,” an egg tempera work depicting discarded bundles of decaying newspapers beside a two-step stoop. Wiltraut says it’s “… symbolic of the shift in how we receive our information. That’s how it used to be, and now it’s gadgetry.”
Regarding his egg tempera, “The Silent Ax,” the painter says, “I wanted to make a statement about how I feel about the cutting of the rain forests around the world. Here in this rusted ax blade I saw the symbolism of this feeling ... I thought if all of the axes around the world grew silent, the forests could survive and flourish.”
Wiltraut, a 1973 graduate of Kutztown University with a BFA in painting, is president of the National Society of Painters in Casein & Acrylic, Inc. He has received numerous honors and awards, beginning in 1974.
Wiltraut, who lives in Whitehall Township, works out of his studio and gallery at the Banana Factory which has several of his paintings on display, as well as arrowhead collections, jars full of marbles, ceramic arms, legs and heads of vintage dolls, plus various found objects the artist has dug up while alone or accompanied by Schaffer, his friend of 50 years. Wiltraut finds inspiration in these artifacts for his paintings.
Wiltraut’s studio is open for “First Fridays” on Bethlehem’s South Side. The next “First Friday” is 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Sept. 1.
Wiltraut prefers working with watercolor or egg tempera paint. As with “A Cool Sip,” his paintings are highly detailed with dramatic use of light and shadow.
“Looking at the Moon” is one of the award-winning watercolors that features an image of Bob Schaffer, where he examines a circa 1920s Akro Agate moonie marble that he had just found.
Going on amateur archeological digs is “ … kind of like my ‘think tank.’ You go out alone by yourself and think about the paintings you’re going to be doing,” Wiltraut explains.
Information: douglaswiltraut.com; 610-264-7472