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!
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.
•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.