Hal Scroggy (1920-2018)

Hal Scroggy is an award-winning watercolorist and a founding member of the Ohio Watercolor Society. His recollection of the Society’s beginning sets its inception to May 1978 when he and Don Getz were at the Canton Art Museum, picking up several watercolor paintings that had not been selected for the upcoming All Ohio Exhibition. In fact, no watercolors had been chosen.

Joseph Hertzi, the Museum Director was in no position to intervene with the current show but said he would hang a watercolor show in October if they could organize it. On the drive back to Akron, Don and Hal discussed what steps it would take to launch a statewide watercolor organization, and a meeting was later set to coincide with the Boston Mills Artfest. They and fifteen other watercolorists subsequently met in July 1978 to establish the OWS, and its first exhibition was held in October 1978 at the Canton Art Museum.

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Hal Scraggy
(Portrait by Homer Hacker)

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The Thatcher

Hal’s formal art education began with a chance meeting during grade school with Roy Wilhelm, a local artist who founded the Akron Society of Artists and was part of the “New Movement” in watercolor. After several years of study with Wilhelm, Hal was accepted into the Cleveland School of Art (now the Cleveland Institute of Art), but World War II intervened to cut short his studies there.

Returning home after the war, Hal’s career evolved through a variety of creative pursuits in fashion illustration, television and film work, and as a documentary photographer. Making films for the government, Hal twice visited the North Pole and cut through the rain forests of Puerto Rico, just a few of the many places he visited.

When he decided his two young sons needed their father at home more, Hal and his wife Eileen moved back to Akron and he settled into a career at B.F.Goodrich, overseeing the art direction of the company’s many publications.

When he retired from Goodrich at age 52, Hal did not take long to decide he wanted to return to painting, particularly watercolor, which he called “an exciting medium." A self-described impressionist, Hal has painted his share of seascapes and landscapes, but his passion has been figurative works.

Mindful of his training with Wilhelm, Hal’s compositional approach has been to leave parts to the imagination. Areas that remain less than finished create a sense of involvement and mystery that shapes a dialog between artist and viewer. Enriching this
dialog is his philosophy of “painting adjectives rather than nouns,” that is, expressing a subject instead of reporting it.

Hal’s paintings consistently explore and portray the interaction between people and nature. In loose, broad strokes, the subjects speak to the viewer either with a distant look or by association with familiar activities. Palette is also important in Hal’s works; and while each piece is limited in hues, it is optimized by their placement and balance. "My own feelings, my own emotions come with my color selection—that's my input."

Besides the OWS, Hal is a signature member of the American, National and Transparent (formerly Midwest) Watercolor Societies, and he is also a member of the Whisky Painters of America, which started in Akron.

Hal has taught and presented many workshops, classes and painting demonstrations. His awards include the OWS Silver Medal in 1998 for
That’s Pat; and his work has been included in three volumes of Splash (North Light Publications), a prestigious annual monograph that features the best paintings of internationally recognized watercolorists.

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Highland Hardies

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That’s Pat