Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hazel Soan Workshop Day Two



Nope, sorry - I didn't keep up with my intention of posting every day about the workshop! After trying to absorb all the tons of information - what a generous and totally giving teacher she is - all the concentration and painting, painting, painting for 6 hours a day (plus an hour for lunch) I got home completely exhausted and unable to string two words together.

But now, after a little rest, to continue with...

Phew! Day Two - sketching wildlife - didn't start off well, as I hadn't heard (concentrating too hard on my sunflowers) that it would start half an hour early, and was late. I missed the first demonstration of painting ostriches and didn't have the references printed out, so spent most of the morning flustered, rushing and catching up. In spite of all that, I loved painting these big goofy birds with their shaggy feathers - I think it's a subject I'll go back to when I want to have fun!... I think the lesson was to make the shape of the bird, as with the leaves, using the right size brush to create the neck and legs, and the side of the brush to make the body - dark against light, so just onto the white paper, with colour dropped into the washes.
The next demo was a background wash of ultramarine with a silhouetted shape - in this case, a back lit cormorant - on top of the dry wash using ultramarine and burnt sienna, both non-staining so can be lifted, scraped or touched up with chinese white paint to get back highlights. Again, they were to be "brushstrokes, not birds" - Hazel's were exquisite examples of this - just a flick of the brush across the surface of the paper, and there, perfectly formed, a cormorant poised to dart into flight or to fish....
I'm discovering my washes need lots of work! I haven't been mixing enough paint to cover the whole area, so add water and pigment halfway and cause cauliflowers or cabbages to form... nor have I been mixing it thoroughly, and get streaks and blobs. Too impatient and not enough care!
Then we did a half lit cormorant on a background wash of aureolin and prussian blue(mine far too garish). My second wash was even more blotchy and streaky (though I partly blame - bad workman! - my paper which was old and dry and sucked in all the water). We were to leave a white shape of the highlight on the bird's back, covering all the rest with the wash, then painted the darks of the cormorant over the wash so the shadowed side wasn't separate from the background, then softening into the highlighted area.



Next came painting antelope using a soft yellow ochre wash to identify the overall shape, then laying on burnt sienna, leaving shapes of highlighted areas and dropping in touches of ultramarine in the dark areas. Being these two pigments, again they could be lifted off with a damp brush to reveal more highlights, or the stripes on the kudu - still felt rushed and agitated at this stage and did a rather shoddy job, but here they are anyway! These are all things Hazel paints from life in the bush, in minutes and instinctively, knowing exactly where her colours are and how to render the creature she has in her sights!


Finally for the day, a close up head of a giraffe. You'll see above the stages that Hazel used - I've put it in a separate post so as not to make it look as if I'm trying to pass off her paintings as my own! By this stage I was so tired, willing my giraffe to please, please, not go wrong. I think if it were the only painting I was doing that day, I would have put more into the darks, been more careful with the spots and softened some hard edges, but as it was, I was quite pleased with painting into such a big shape without stuffing it up, and keeping it fairly loose and not overworking anything.
At this point, I think I must remark that, although this may seem like a slavish following of Hazel's methods, they are all techniques that she instinctively uses after her years of experimenting, and her gift to us (I did ask her permission to blog this workshop!) is to take the time and thought to put her natural - though she plans ahead - actions into a sequence that we can use, to paint freely and in our own style once we know a few sound principles and logical steps to produce - as was her aim in this workshop - vibrant, lively watercolours.
Also, some of this I, and I'm sure many of you, do know from our own experiments or reading or lessons, but to have the sequence so clearly laid out when say, presented with a beautiful silhouetted subject on a coloured background, will make painting it much simpler. If you're anything like me you'll be scratching your head thinking, " now, how did I do that last time..?" by which time the bird, or kudu, or whatever, has flown!

8 comments:

Maree said...

Oh my word Cathy, so much to remember! And so much to take in - but if we only even learn and remember ONE thing it will be worth it! Just LOVE the ostriches!

martinealison said...

Beau travail, j'adore la girafe...

A Brush with Color said...

Those dancing, elegant ostriches are to die for! I just love those! I always feel like a total beginner when I head to a workshop--I feel like nothing I do is any good, but I do learn. The things you've shown here are marvelous.

RHCarpenter said...

Oh, my, you're being much too hard on yourself - enjoy, listen, learn, and absorb it all and then practice it when you're home and comfortable and rested. I think these little watercolor sketches of the animals are perfect, and love your giraffe! Thanks so much for sharing Hazel's workshop with us (love her work).

africantapestry said...

I can just imagine how exhausted you must feel...taking in so muh and then still have to do your own versions...But it seems to be worth every drop of sweat! you did great with all your efforts...I'm sure once you get back to nromality with your own thoughts, it will all take shape much easier and with some new touches...and that is what I'm looking forward to!
Ronell xx

Sandra said...

I think these are lovely - Your giraffe in particular. You can really get a feeling of the strong sunlight by your clever use of colour and shadows. I would be really pleased with this! I love the antelope too, so simple yet so effective! And the back lit birds are really dramatic! I wish we had animals like these here in the UK. Unfortunately we have to go to a zoo to see them!

laura said...

I love the ostriches!! Their shapes, and especially their legs, are grand--they just make me smile! And the antelope--you've captured that attentive, but quiet, attitude they have.

SKIZO said...

WOW
good
creations