Roger Whitlock has been painting in watercolor since 1985. He is a signature member of the Hawai’i Watercolor Society and the Northwest Watercolor Society. Since 1993, he has had over thirty solo shows and has participated in many group shows, both in Hawai’i and on the mainland, and in recent international exhibitions in Taipei City, Taiwan, Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Incheon, Korea. Reviewing one of his solo shows, Honolulu Advertiser art critic Virginia Wageman wrote: “In his ever-shifting focus on subjects, bringing variety to an exceptional oeuvre, Roger Whitlock is one of Hawai’i’s premier watercolorists.”
In 2001, Watercolor Magic recognized Whitlock as one of 15 American watercolor painters “to watch.” In 2008, he was named by Honolulu Magazine as one of “9 Hawai’i Artists to Collect.” Recently, Watercolor Artist featured his art in an article called "Twelve by Two" (Aug. 2010). A native of Seattle, he has lived in Honolulu since 1970. He currently teaches the advanced watercolor class at the Honolulu Art Museum. His work is in many private and corporate collections; it is also in the collections of the Honolulu Art Museum and the State of Hawai'i.
from Honolulu Magazine Dec., 2008 by Jana Wolfe
PHOTO BY: RAE HUO
Was: a professor
IS: A PAINTER
It’s a good thing Roger Whitlock’s book manuscripts never got published … or he might not have morphed from an English professor into one of Hawaii’s—indeed, one of the nation’s—premier watercolorists. Though he always loved both painting and prose growing up in Seattle, Roger didn’t touch a paintbrush for 25 years while he pursued a successful career teaching college-level English—even winning the Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching at UH, where he taught for 31 years. “Undergrads were especially fun to teach; many of my students became friends.”
In a funk about his own writing, Roger signed up for a beginner’s painting class in 1985 that met every Thursday night at the Honolulu Academy of Arts—and he re-took the same class for five years! An art student by night and an English professor by day, Roger began to dream not about stories he would write but about images he would paint. It was when a fellow student asked to buy one of Roger’s early watercolors and, later, when he won top prize in the first Hawaii Watercolor Society competition he entered, that the leap from professor to painter took hold.
After retiring from UH in 2001, he continued to refine his painting skills, studying with Robert E. Wood and financing his travels by selling paintings of places he’d visited. He’s had more than 20 solo shows since 1994, gained national recognition and was recently named one of “Nine Hawaii Artists to Collect” by this magazine (March ’08).
In the face of his success, there’s a humility about Roger and a sense that he can’t wait to get started each morning: “I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I love.” His first love, teaching, has been a through line in Roger’s second career. He still teaches an advanced watercolor class at the Academy once a week and insists that he learns a lot in the process. There’s one lesson Roger will tell anyone who is contemplating a career change: “Don’t wait until you retire to pursue your passion; it will take time to grow into … so start now.”