The success of Women Painters West is its ability to offer equal parts of inspiration and education.
Seventy-four of the 240 artists in the organization are showing their work in an exhibition that opened Friday at Burbank’s Creative Arts Center Gallery.
Its purpose is multi-pronged, but foremost it is to provide one another with support, said Karen Hansen, exhibit chairwoman.
“Being an artist is such a solitary thing, and we support each other by finding venues we can show in, having meetings 10 months out of the year and inviting a speaker,” Hansen said.
“It can be an artist or someone else. Last year, we had a psychologist who talked about how the brain works during the creative process.”
Members have also taken a field trip to muralist Kent Twitchell’s studio, said Hansen, a Burbank resident.
“He painted the huge mural of the Los Angeles Philharmonic members on a building in Downtown Los Angeles,” she said.
Membership is drawn from Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, but there are a few members in other parts of the country. The group also is involved with philanthropic work in the arts.
“We organize fundraisers for scholarships for merging artists — students,” she said.
“We gather art materials and give them to disadvantaged children.”
As chairwoman of the Burbank show, Hansen said she found the venue, produced the rules for submission and secured juror John Zarcone, a life-drawing instructor at Glendale Community College.
This year the submissions are wide-ranging.
Moody abstracts, realistic figure and landscape paintings and everything in between — including oil, acrylic and pastel — are included, she said.
Nine paintings received awards.
Overall, all the paintings winning prizes were original in their composition and use of color, Zarcone said.
Artist Nessa Cooper’s piece, “Red Truck,” won the Women Painters West Award, which came with a $500 cash prize.
“This painting had all those things and a poignancy I responded to,” Zarcone said.
“The red truck is parked on a city street against a background of misty, rainy conditions. Somehow it’s very poetic.”
Before Zarcone was asked to serve as a juror for the exhibition, he said he had never heard of Women Painters West.
“I was surprised by the level of sophistication when I saw the website and when I judged the show,” he said.
“All the entries, I thought, were well done and at a high level of quality.”
For her mixed-media collage, member Lois Ramirez of Burbank received an honorable mention.
“It feels good,” she said about winning.
“It always feels good when that happens.”
The piece called “Scant Traces” is abstract in nature.
There is color and shape but no reference to anything, she said.
Ramirez, who has belonged to the group since the early 1990s, gains a lot of her inspiration from fellow members, she said.
“I’m stimulated by the group by other works I see that other people do,” she said. “It’s just a great group to belong to.”
Member Jane Friend of Glendale is proud that she was able to join the group 40 years ago.
“I’m one of the longest members,” she said. “We are a more than 80-year-old group. It’s hard to get into it.”
Friend has served as exhibit chairwoman and program chairwoman.
“We have had excellent speakers who are all the top lady artists in the area,” she said.
WOMEN PAINTERS WEST EXHIBITION AWARDS
Women Painters West Award ($500): Nessa Cooper, “Red Truck”
Fern Bowen Award ($250): Susanne Belcher, “Sun Dancers”
Ruth Probst Kain Award ($250): Ruth Selwitz, “Collision I”
Jack Richeson Award ($50 gift certificate): Estelle Beigel, “My Hydrangeas”
Jack Richeson Award, ($50 gift certificate): Jacquelyn Blue “After the Storm”
Jack Richeson Award ($50 gift certificate): Debra Hintz, “Carmel Coast”
Honorable Mention: June Phelps, “Aquifer”
Honorable Mention: Lois Ramirez, “Scant Traces”
Honorable Mention: Phyllis Solcyk, “Taste of Home”