Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hazel Soan Workshop Day One

I'm halfway through the Hazel Soan's workshop already, and apologise once again for being AWOL for so long. Yesterday I got home too worn out (in a good way) to sit at the computer and record the whole experience, but today I realise if I don't write it up as it finishes, I might never do it, or at least not be able to recall with any clarity each day's activities.
So here, in a nutshell, is what we did on Wonderful Day One:

For this we had to bring an array of various leaves and flowers, as well as some reference photographs that Hazel had specified - reeds back lit against the sky - dark against light, and sunflowers with light coming from the side, so some lost and found edges, background and foreground. Starting with the leaves, she did a demonstration using different sized brushes according to the size and shape of the leaf.

Where Hazel gets her energy I don't know - she had just got off a plane from teaching a workshop in Kenya the night before, and was as fresh and eager to pass on some of her vast knowledge of watercolour as if we were her only students this year. I'm going to be rather disjointed, and just write down little sound bytes of what Hazel said as she demonstrated and walked around the students helping and giving advice, as I am just too tired to organise it all into a comprehensive summary just now.
•Watercolour is perfect, the less you do, the better it is.

•The subject is the excuse to use watercolours - not the watercolours in order to paint the subject.

•Leaves are brushstrokes - we're not painting leaves, we're painting brushstrokes.

•Vary your colours and strokes - entertain the eye.

•Become a slave to TONE - relative tone is the secret of painting - forget matching colour exactly - colour changes according to light and surroundings.
•Paint beautiful patches of watercolour, not 'flowers'
•Order your palette and keep it simple - a warm and a cool - red, yellow, blue. *A note from me - I'm amazed at how spartan her equipment is. We students came with case-loads of tubes and pans, huge water containers and mixing receptacles - she had a paintbox and a tiny bag of tubes to refill it, her brushes, three little water pots and a small bottle of water to replace dirty with clean, and that's it! For all the leaves we used just Aureolin and Prussian blue. For the flower page we added touches of Permanent Rose and Dioxazine Violet. The sunflowers were Indian Yellow and Ultramarine, with Burnt Sienna and Sepia, and a bit of aureolin to vary the greens.
I finally pulled out my stash of beautiful watercolour paper that I've been collecting and hoarding for years, waiting for the time that I could paint well enough to warrant using it, for this workshop and Lo!.. it actually helps one to paint better! Watercolour does what one is hoping it will do a lot more often on lovely paper. My reed painting though, was a total failure - partly because my reference photo was front, not back lit, but my wet-in-wet didn't work, my dry brush didn't scumble, not even the Arches could save it. Ah well.

I'm so pleased to find a fellow Johannesburg blogger, talented Debbie Schiff of Debbie Does Art (love that name!) at the workshop, which reminds me that she and Maree of Art & Creativity passed on the Sunshine Award to me some time ago, and I haven't even acknowledged it here yet, let alone passed it on. Thank you both so much - life has been overtaking me lately - I hope to catch up soon!


Ramblingroses said...

Hi Cathy. Your sunflowers radiate life - peering around before lifting their heads. Just "beautiful-and-amazing" as my two-year-old grandson would say.

Debbie said...

Hello Cathy....
You are such a good girl, filling people in about Hazel's workshop on your blog...and you are so right in everything you say about not being able to recall all the information by the time Hazel's workshop is finished. She really n quite inspirational!

Your sketches are beautiful and much more beautiful in real life! This reminds me NOT to put my sketches in my blog as they will embarrass me! But I'll have to mention a bit about her workshop as a lot of friends are eager to hear all about it.

Thank you for the acknowledgement on your blog.... you are too kind and looking at your style... are totally deserving of the award.

All the best, see you tomorrow....

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

You lucky, lucky lady - I adore Hazel Soan's work and how she finds it all so simple. Just watching her hand move the brush is like magic. Her comments you passed on to us are all so sensible and if only we could put them into practice, we would be marvelous with watercolour!
Your work looks lovely and clean and fresh keeping the colours so pure and the brush strokes so lively evoking movement. Well done. Enjoy your second day.

Robin said...

Your workshop paintings look great!! I have her books and would love to take a class from Hazel. Especially love the sunflowers!

Cathy Gatland said...

Hi Jill :) Thank you - your little grandson talking such long words already!? I enjoyed painting them!

Hi Debbie - well I'm writing as much down as I can during demos - would never remember all that! You are way too modest! - do put your sketches up. I love in the group the different styles all going for the same goal - its all interesting!

Aren't I, Joan! She does produce the most perfect brushstrokes with seemimngly little effort, but when you see the thousands of paintings she's prodiuced, you know it's been a lot of practice and hard work!

Thanks Robin - I wish every watercolour painter could take a class with her - but the books are great compensation if you just can't!

Art with Liz said...

Wow Cathy, these are wonderful! Hazel is absolutely incredible and thank you for passing on these gems of wisdom from her.

Sandra said...

I love Hazel Soan's work - particularly her African Wildlife. She really is a talent. You are so lucky being able to take part in one of her workshops!
Your paintings are beautiful - though, looking through your blog, it seems that you really don't need any help! I am in awe!

Cathy said...

Thanks Cathy for sharing all this! I must say I envy you! I never seem to hear about workshops in this country!
This workshop really seems fascinating! Your sketches are fabulous! And thanks for sharing her advice, it is all very interestig. Have a lovely day two (and three?)

Gillian said...

Hi there. The Hazel Sloan class sounds wonderful - a great shot in the arm, no doubt. I personally think YOU should teach a class or two. Enjoyed your post, looking forward to more...

Robyn Sinclair said...

Oh my, such accomplished and beautiful watercolours, Cathy. I find your leaves particularly gorgeous. Which brushes, I wonder. And you deserve the best watercolour paper - always!!

Thank you for sharing and I look forward to the next update.

A Brush with Color said...

Sounds like a great workshop. I love hearing her advice. It "SOUNDS" beautiful and easy. I know well that it's not as easy as it sounds. Your results are lovely! I know what you mean about paper--I often use older paper because I feel somehow "not worthy" of the good stuff, and I never like results on poor papers...(and of course, then I feel even un-worthier!)

Anonymous said...

Cathy...your flowers are Stunning!! I adore your sunflowers! It sounds like a great workshop and even better when meeting a fellow artist you connect with. They always say ''if you want something done, give it to the busy person...They are inspiring, these people always on the go...no? You are one of them, you know..

Anonymous said...

Kathy, your flowers are wonderful and I'm so happy that you have gotten to go. I have liked hazel for such a very long time. I've watched someof her video clips and she shows the brush work so you can understand(at least for me) I to have good paper but wont use it till I get better:) funny isnt it. Anyways aquestion to you what videos of hers would you recommend. She has a flower one which looks like its great?
Time for you to take a rest and thank-you so for this its like we went to I wish,

Cathy Gatland said...

Liz - there's more to come - stay tuned! (When I can gather the energy to write it down...)

Hi Sandra - we're doing some wildlife too - a first for me, so lots to learn, always!

Cathy, it is hard to hear about workshops, they seem to get booked up before you're aware of them - I only got in this one through a cancellation, and the Watercolour Society... lucky! It's four days long - tomorrow the last :(

Hi Gin, it's such a shot of energy and enthusiasm - just hope, hope, I can keep going afterwards!

Robyn, maybe later I can post more explaining about brushes etc - but really, it's small ones for small leaves, big ones for bigger, so you don't draw outlines and colour in - just one stroke per leaf.

Suzanne, we 'unworthys' know how to keep ourselves down, don't we! Time to use the good stuff and shed the sackcloth I think!

Hi Ronell! I almost emailed you to ask if I could get a bigger photo of your beautiful sunflower references for this workshop, then I saw you were off to Oslo - I am so inspired, it's wonderful!

Linda, I haven't seen any of Hazel's videos, but I'm pretty sure anything you want to learn more about in watercolour, she'd have something valuable to share. As for your paper - use it! It doesn't always keep forever, and your work will be the better for it! (I say this from new found experience!)

Maree Clarkson said...

Beautiful art class exercise sketches Cathy! And no better time for using that expensive, good paper! I know how tired one is after the class, but looking forward to your up-dates on the rest of the course!

Debbie Drechsler said...

Cathy, thanks so much for posting so much information about the workshop! Your paintings are wonderful -- it seems that you capably were able to absorb the lessons very well. I love how much you've captured in spare brush strokes and the color is so clear and bright! I'm inspired!

laura said...

Oh no, I "commented" on this before, but I guess I didn't wait around for my verification because I don't see the comment, which was, to re-create, something along the lines of Wow! I love pages of "practice," samplers. The leaf one is lovely--all those sinuous and fat shapes--and the flowers show beautiful handling.