Monday, March 29, 2010

Hazel Soan Workshop Day Four

It's been a long time a-coming, but..

Finally, Fascinating Day Four...

Another day allotted to wildlife - we had references for three of the Big Five, elephants, a close up head of a lioness and of a buffalo - once again we couldn't keep up with Hazel's fully packed schedule for the day, so sadly didn't get to the buffalo.

My unfinished lioness - waiting patiently for me to get back to her - some day...








My garishly overworked first attempt at elephants using different palette combinations
My pale imitation of Hazel's painting (see below)

Hazel stressed again the importance of tone over colour, saying one could paint an elephant with any combination of transparent yellow, red and blue - no opaque pigments, as layers of colour are built up to produce the the tonal range.

To show this, she painted three versions of an elephant using three different palettes... the first using yellow ochre (semi-opaque, so used only in very thin washes), ultramarine and alizarin crimson - the second using Indian yellow, prussian blue and alizarin crimson and the third - as an experiment - raw umber, transparent turquoise and quinacridone red. With the size of the elephant again determined by the size of the brush she started each one with the palest yellow wash to form the shape, leaving white highlights where the sun struck their backs, then the second wash, paying attention always to tone, then the third dropped into the shadows. To make the dark tones, she mixed a purple/violet with all three colours, in a drier mixture to add definition.
My first elephants were a bit of a sorry affair, so with the next demonstration I tried to follow her method more closely - and ended up with a pale imitation, but all in the pursuit of new skills.I've assembled a series of her steps showing how gently and subtley she builds up washes, each elephant different, concentrating on tone, not colour the whole way through. The front ellies more defined than the back and their feet fading as the dust is kicked up and obscures them. Using the background to bring out the foreground, she mixed stronger greens from the same three colours for the foliage, mixing wet in wet with hard edges to vary it, softening it towards the ground where it's dusty. Reminding us constantly to see "shapes not lines". The demo was photographed in the mirror angled above her workspace. Here, the right way round, Hazel's finished elephant painting.

For the last demonstration of the day, and of the workshop, Hazel brought out a sheet of the Khadi paper that she loves for brighter, bolder wildlife painting - ideal for the lioness' head full of texture and deep colour. This, she says, is no longer a shape, but a block that you have to work within. The interest is in the features. Once they are carefully placed (in pencil) she works within each feature - each one a separate element. Starting with an ear, yellow ochre with burnt sienna dropped into the wet wash, then Winsor violet into the darks, painting with water to bring back whites and letting it flow and settle... "It's not an ear, it's watercolour!" Dropping in sepia to get jet darks, allowing the paint to spread into the dampened outline to look like soft fur.. where she didn't want the paint to spread so far, she used drier paint on the brush. Colours mixed on the paper rather than on the palette. For the eyes to have soft edges, she wet around their shapes and outlined them with sepia, adding yellow ochre and burnt sienna to the middle of the eye so that it 'punched out' the sepia, leaving the all important white spot of eye light.
Hazel's magnificent finished lioness, photographed under less than ideal conditions so looks more subdued than she actually is.
A few final words on Hazel - her dedication to painting and to her priorities are striking and palpable. When I asked if I may blog the workshop, I naively suggested that it may encourage a few more people to register for future workshops, and she told me - very gently - that actually, she has offers from all around the world to hold them in the most wonderful and tantalising places all the time, and she turns most of them down because, first, she wanted to spend time with her son while he was growing up, and because she wants to paint. When we were discussing the internet and Facebook, and she heard of what could be done to promote her name and work on there, she didn't think long before she replied: but it would take so much time away that could be spent painting. Though I 'know' this is what is necessary in theory, it was quite startling to hear that someone would forego travel opportunities like that, to work on her art and passion. Which makes me very grateful indeed that she was persuaded to squeeze this workshop into her busy life and that I squeezed onto it!
Have you nominated your favourite watercolour books on Katherine Tyrell's survey Which are the best art books about watercolour painting? yet? My newly signed copy of 'What shall I paint' will be suggested there soon, as well as one or two others, just got to find a couple more minutes this week!

21 comments:

Sandra said...

These are so beautiful. I particularly love the lioness! Those beautiful warm colours which merge together here and there. There's so much to learn from this.
Here in the UK we have the Painting and Drawing channel (166). It's on Sky so perhaps you get it too? I rarely watch T.V. but I always make time to watch this one. Hazel often features on it, though I wish she did more. She comes across as such an enthusiastic, sharing person and she's a joy to watch. Judging by your posts, she's clearly a very good teacher!

EH said...

Hallo Cathy,
thank you for sharing your workshop experiences so detailed, absolutely great!

Robyn said...

I had to sneak away from my chores to have a peek. Splendid!! I will be back for another proper look.

Gillian said...

Wow Cath - these are so interesting and beautiful. I'm speed reading the post. Will have to come back and reread and soak it all in. I think I'm starting to understand a little about what you learnt there. TONE not colour, less is more... I'll return after Easter. XXX

laura said...

Great post, Cathy. I love your lionness; the touches of purple really work. ALL the elephants are just great! They all look so elegant, so graceful--and are a great subject with that broad sunlit back and those looping trunks!

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Thanks for posting your workshop experience ... it looks like a class filled with learning. I know i'll need to go back and re-read your post to help absorb.

Cathy Gatland said...

Sandra - I wish we could get channel 166, we only get Sky News. She is an exceptionally generous teacher!

Hi Martin and Robyn - thanks, I felt I had to pass it on as much as I could!

Gillian, have a lovely Easter, hope all the entertaining goes brilliantly. XXX

Thanks Laura - they are a great subject, though I tend to get a bit trembly when right in front of them - don't know if I could do what HS does and paint them in the wild!

It was Nancy - I think I'll be re-reading them too to remind myself of a few things :)

Debbie said...

This post has brought back wonderful memories of her workshop Cathy... thank you for posting. I was so upset that my camera batteries ran out on the last day as a result, I don't have many of her 'work in progress' to look back on, but thanks to you, I can now always look back here to recap if the brain fails me..... wonderful post thank you!

A Brush with Color said...

Oh, I've really enjoyed all your notes on this class--it sounds like it must have been wonderful. Your photos are very good at depicting these things you're describing--thank you for being so diligent for all OUR benefits, too! I've really enjoyed this. YOUR lioness and elephants are quite beautiful, too!

Charlene Brown said...

Thank you Cathy for taking the time to document this workshop so beautifully. This series of posts is a real treasure!

africantapestry said...

Wonderful Cathy! I can clearly see your passion for the workshop, the fun you has as well as the learning coming through. Sometimes that is what we need almost more than the course itself...the desire and the enthusiasm and the inspiration to put shoulder to wheel. I didn't even do the workshop and feel inspired too! Thanks for your great reportage!
Ronell

Liz Steel said...

Hi Cathy,
So glad that through Sketchercise I have found your blog – don’t know why I haven’t been following it before. Thanks for these posts on your workshop – not only is it great to see what Hazel taught but I really loved reading your experiences as you tried to follow what she made look so effortless. I had a similar experience at a single day workshop a few weeks ago. Thanks again for posting – your effort is really appreciated!

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

What an amazing day with Hazel and what an amazing post for us all. So much to learn.

alison staite said...

Wow Cathy - This is wonderfully visual and hugely informative. Thank you so much for taking the time to post it all!

jane minter said...

cathy i'm a friend of debbie's just wanted to thankyou for sharing hazel's wonderful workshop on your blog ..i've really enjoyed looking and reading your posts ..would love to go on her workshop ..will buy the new book

Helen Percy Lystra said...

Oh my, I've missed a bunch this month. I can see I'm going to have to spend more time reading about this workshop, it looks like it was wonderful.

Pat said...

What can I say but WOW! You really took good notes to be able to complete these great blogs. Very informative. Thanks. I will be referring back often. By the way have a great Easter Weekend.
Hugs
Pat

Art with Liz said...

What an incredible post Cathy and thank you to you and Hazel for sharing the experience. You did fantastically well if your paintings are anything to go by. I too think Hazel is special and have a number of her books and dvds.

Teresa said...

I've sure enjoyed catching up on your posts and reading all about your Hazel Soan workshop. Wow... it looks like a fantastic workshop! I have one of her w/c teaching videos. Love her style.

rudi'sketch said...

fabolous job.... !!!! you are the master of water color.

Watercolors By Barb - Barbara Scheihing said...

I'm so glad I saw your post because I went to one of Hazel's workshop last November. I traveled from the U.S. and it was quite a trek but it was so worth it and the best painting experience I've ever had. She was so gracious to me to fit me into the workshop and she truly is a wonderful person as well as painter.