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Creating Art and Friendships: The Georgetown County Watercolor Society

The Georgetown County Watercolor Society has been a family of talented artists and friends for over 45 years. While there are many artist associations across the Hammock Coast, GCWS (for short) is the only watermedia group from the PeeDee to the Lowcountry. Watermedia includes not only watercolor, but also watercolor pencils, gouache, batik, and acrylic.

In the mid-1970s, a group of artists became friends painting together in a Georgetown community watercolor class.  Along with a few established watercolorists, these eight artists met to share their ideas, books, paints, and passion for visual arts.  They would paint outside, or “en plein air,” and when the weather got bad, they would paint at The Rice Museum, with the blessing of its Executive Director, Jim Fitch. 

GCWS became state-licensed and chartered in 1978. Its purpose was, and continues to be, to promote the interest and appreciation of watercolor painting to residents of the Georgetown County area and to help offer its members and the general public more educational and professional outlets for the visual arts, especially watercolor.

Throughout the years, the group has continued to provide access to beautiful art to the Hammock Coast.

  • In 2002, the Society provided much needed art supplies to Georgetown County schools public art programs through donations and purchases of items and supplies.
  • Also in 2002, the Watercolor Society and the Rice Museum partnered to hold a fundraiser called “Inner Landscapes: Artful Homes,” a home tour of beautiful homes from North Litchfield, Pawleys Plantation, Pawleys Island, Prince George and Georgetown.  Each home featured original art and provided a unique peek inside the homes of local artists and collectors.
  • In 2006 and 2016, Georgetown Watercolor Society hosted the state’s South Carolina Watercolor Society annual exhibition in Myrtle Beach, which draws artists from across the country.
  • Locally, the Annual Member Exhibition at the Rice Museum’s Provost Gallery has been highlighting members’ work since 1978.  The show includes awards for paintings selected by an independent guest judge and shows for four weeks.
  • The Georgetown Society held a benefit art show and sale by partnering with SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) in early March. Both groups educated locals and tourists about the importance of protecting the local sea turtles while also offering beautiful artwork featuring sea turtles and their habitat.

Many members of GCWS are featured in galleries across the area: Georgetown Art Gallery, Island Art Gallery in Pawleys, and Seacoast Art Gallery in Myrtle Beach. Most members live right here in the area from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, and some even teach watercolor classes and workshops. When not creating pieces to be displayed, exhibited, and sold, many are giving back to the community using their many talents.

  • Janice Coward is one of the very early members. She has lived in the Pawleys area for 45 years. She served as President of the Georgetown Society twice and once for the South Carolina Watermedia Society. More recently, she was commissioned to paint illustrations for three children’s books; one is a Christmas book about a mouse living in the Kaminski House, and the other is about Colonial Georgetown and its history.
  • Sharon Bogan is President of the GCWS and has been a member for seven years. She lives in Pawleys and teaches the young at heart to paint at The Lakes at Litchfield senior living community.  She also recently taught a batik watercolor class at Island Art Gallery in Pawleys, where her paintings are featured.
  • Kay Rugh lives in Murrells Inlet but spends most of her weekends attending and selling her artwork at arts and crafts festivals including Art in the Park at Market Common, the Wooden Boat Show in Georgetown, and Art Under the Oaks in Pawleys. A retired ER/Trauma RN, she picked up her brush and is following her passion with a quirky whimsical style.  She was just awarded an Artist in Residence with the South Carolina State Parks. She will spend a week at Dreher Island on Lake Murray painting and then provide donated painting(s) to the park system to display.

Monthly meetings are held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church off Willbrook Blvd. Open Paint Wednesdays provide a weekly time of fellowship and painting.  The group sponsors three workshops with local, regional, and national artists throughout the year.

The society continues to thrive and carry on its mission through friendships, education, and assistance to budding artists. They welcome all who wish to expand their knowledge and skills in the world of art and watercolor. To learn more, check out their website at www.georgetowncountywatercolorsociety.com and their Facebook page at Georgetown County Watercolor Society.

Kay Rugh, recently awarded a 2024 Resident Artist with South Carolina State Parks.
Sonya Marsh, one of Sharon Bogan’s students from The Lakes, displaying her Parrot painting.
Janice Coward holding one of the watercolor illustrations for a children’s book about Colonial Georgetown.

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