Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Workshop

As if I'm not far enough behind already - our internet connection has been 'down' for the last four days. I did promise to report back on the other workshop I did the week after Easter - ages ago!
This was a 3 day watercolour workshop with Don Andrews, who came all the way from Alabama with his wife Martha for a family celebration, and was persuaded by Barbara, the chairman of our watercolour society at the time, to squeeze in a couple of workshops while they were here.
I had watched one of Don's DVD's and was fascinated at the way he layers wash upon wash to create richly coloured, granulated washes to enhance his figure studies. I'm not going to go into detail about his methods and excellent good-humoured advice on how to achieve a compelling and focused figure painting - but if I'd only remembered at the end all I'd been told from the beginning I may have produced better final results. The paintings just got worse and worse as I moved on to better and better paper.
We first tried the many colour washes onto wet paper, working from photographs for reference material, exciting to see the various colours and granulations that emerged. When those were dry, we went back in with dark shapes and washes, and were raring to go back the next day to apply this to painting from live models.
We first worked on cheap sketching paper to do some shadow painting, quickly putting down the shapes we saw on the strongly lit models, first in one colour only, then adding another. These quick exercises jumped off my brush in the loose spontaneous strokes I should have strived for later... (apologies for the bad photographs, these are all large A2 or bigger sheets, and very warped and wrinkled) ...a lesson to not fuss over initial facial features and shadow shapes, the two faces below left, were my favourite results of the week, and were done so quickly then left alone!
But as I pulled out my more precious sheets of paper - some of which have lain under my bed for far too many years, and got 'foxed', or lost their sizing -
I became progressively tighter and more precious with my brushstrokes until my final painting, which should have been the culmination of all the good advice and teachings of the week was just, well, ble-urgh. I also was getting very mean with the amount of pigment I was using in the washes and in retrospect, should have painted much smaller for these experiments. Don uses a lot of paint, buying large tubes of the American Journey range from Cheap Joe's, which he generously allowed us to play with. I haven't had a chance to go back and try this all again, but it's on my to-do list After Lisbon... which is coming up at great speed and for which I need to get back to sketching in earnest.

8 comments:

Robyn Sinclair said...

That's a gorgeous riot of plant life, Cathy. I'd love to see this IRL.
My favourite of your figures is the girl in the navy singlet top - I think that is beautiful. If I had brought this collection of life paintings away from the classes I did last year I'd have been extremely pleased with myself. I look forward to you having a chance to get back to exploring this technique.

Where does the time get to, that's what I'd like to know! ;)

Katherine Thomas said...

Wow! This is all so beautiful! I want to take a workshop now! You have done a wonderful job with these paintings!

Penny said...

I think your faces got better and better and the skin tone on the arm of the last one is great.
Something to work on in your own time and come to grips with then.

Watercolour Society of S.A. Johannesburg Branch said...

These are really wonderful Cathy....! Now why did I not make the workshop!? I wished I did, Darn! I agree with the others...your figures do just get better and better. Well done! Thanks for sharing!

Debbie said...

Sorry Cathy.... the above message was actually me (singed in as WSSA)!!!! :'

Cathy said...

Wow! You seem to be complaining, but I find your work remarkable! Your figures are fantastic! I love them all (except maybe the wrinkled ones)

josé said...

he quedado perplejo maestro, muy gráciles tus pinceladas y sus texturas, arte, arte, un abrazo

Art with Liz said...

It's amazing how hard we are on ourselves. I watched the trailers on YouTube and he is incredible with those colour washes. I too, love the girls, but the first two on 'cheap paper' are awesome.