Posts Tagged ‘Studio Classes’

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Five!

15/02/2019

Two wintery weeks had gone by since our last class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Class had been cancelled last week due to a snow day and it was a close call again this week. Fortunately, Wednesday evening was a go and everyone was able dig out their vehicles and get to the school.

I kept it simple and fairly brief to start off the evening. I offered a quick review of soft-edge techniques and a few thoughts pertinent to our still-life. Painting time is what this group needed; time to solve the problems and enjoy the process.

The students made excellent use of the extra few minutes. I was very pleased with their progress and told them so. One of the students remarked on the overall improvement since week one. I agree and it’s a result of their attentiveness, thoughtfulness and hard work.

Wednesday Critique

 

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Winter Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Two!

07/02/2019

We’ve had some weather! Currently, we’re suffering our second day of traffic tangles and school and business closures due to an ice storm. Last week, a blizzard forced me to postpone my Tuesday afternoon class in Toronto until this week, barely ahead of the ice and freezing rain. Last night, my Wednesday class in Dundas was canceled and a makeup will be scheduled. Anyway, this post from Arts on Adrian is overdue.

I found these decorative violins at a thrift shop last December and I couldn’t wait to include them in a still-life. The Sustained Saturday students got first crack at them. This is a capable and experienced group and, rather than discuss techniques, I talked about colour. Often, I find a small colour sketch useful to plan and harmonize the palette for a painting. My demonstration illustrates our discussion.

All of the students considered their colours ahead of time and most completed some sort of small study. I was particulary drawn to the simplicity and effectiveness of this one by George H.

Watercolour study
by George H.

The day went very well. I did notice, however, that drawing the violins was a challenge to all and it took a lot of time to do so. With that in mind, I gave the Tuesday students a quick refresher on a sound approach to drawing using basic shapes as a starting point in addition to a brief chat about colour.

Everyone enjoyed the still-life and I think it shows in the work. Stay safe and warm out there and thanks, as always, for your likes and comments. Don’t forget to click on a critique image to view a larger version!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Critique

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Four!

31/01/2019

The bottles were empty for the Wednesday watercolour students at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Not even half full, unfortunately. Spirits were high, however, and we used our bottles to continue practicing soft-edge techniques. I did a quick review of the basic approach and then applied the techniques with a few studies.

The bottles were first painted by adding dark values to the lighter overall shape while still wet. When the first washes were dry, I added the smaller, darker shapes. These are very clear in the green bottle on the left where the darker shapes all have distinct, crisp edges. In the two brown bottles, I ‘feathered’ some of the edges of the darkest shapes, using a damp brush. This varies the edges of the small, dark shapes and gives the bottle a somewhat more natural appearance. The blue studies, bottom centre, illustrate the feathering technique.

This group of students all work thoughtfully and follow a sound process. Practice swatches, small studies and colour testing all lead to more successful watercolour paintings. Have a look and remember to click on the critique image to view a larger version.

Wednesday Critique

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Three!

25/01/2019

Our colours were complementary and our focus was on soft edge last Wednesday evening at the Dundas Valley School of Art. The ability to create soft edges is a key element of watercolour painting. I showed the students how to ‘inject’ a darker value or colour into a lighter wash. Both washes are wet when they touch each other and timing is critical.

I painted several swatches, including some examples of what not to do. Then, I applied the basic technique to a few studies of oranges and the blue pitcher. This was review for some of the students and new to others. It takes a lot of practice but it’s a very important tool in any watercolour painter’s toolbox.

Practice and process. Repetition. Everyone worked hard and thoughtfully. We’ll continue to explore soft edges in the weeks to come.

Wednesday Critique

Winter Watercolour at DVSA – Week Two!

20/01/2019

Hats were our subject at the Dundas Valley School of Art last Wednesday evening. We’d focused on value for our first class and worked with monochrome washes. This time, we were more than ready for colour but I still discussed value to start off. You can see my pencil study on the upper left of the demonstration sheet.

My little notes on the sheet mean: Light to Dark, Big to Small and Soft to Crisp. These aren’t hard and fast rules but are good watercolour guidelines. I suggested that the students focus on observation of value and shape. They worked wet over dry and didn’t concern themselves with soft edges. We’ll be discussing soft edge in our next class.

I liked the results of our second evening together and look forward to the weeks to come.

Wednesday Critique

 

Winter Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week One!

16/01/2019

I was back at Arts on Adrian this week. These old lanterns were the subject for the Sustained Saturday and Tuesday afternoon classes. I had a plan. The students are often quite literal/optical about the colours they use in their work. Also, they’re often stymied as to what to do with their backgrounds/negative spaces. We discussed this tendency and I laid out some steps of an exercise:
Step 1) Draw one lantern.
Step 2) Adjust the frame of reference/rectangle with masking tape. I didn’t want huge amounts of negative space so the compositions were tightened up in this manner.
Step 3) Wet the sheet and randomly touch in primary colours to create a preliminary wash. This was done only on Saturday as those students had much more time to paint.
Step 3) Break up the negative space with pencil lines into simple, arbitrary shapes; geometric or organic.
Step 4) Select a colour for your lantern. It doesn’t have to be the colour that you’re observing. Mix three or so colours for the negative spaces that enhance the colour of the lantern.
Step 5) Paint the negative spaces. Try to vary the washes.
Step 6) Paint the lantern. The lighting on the actual still-life may be difficult to understand in places so consider the underlying forms as you paint.

That’s more or less the process we followed. I strayed from it a bit as I demonstrated because I wanted to show different ideas without taking the time to complete my painting. Here are a few stages of my demonstration. In the image on the left, you may be able to make out the faint preliminary wash in the ‘white’ areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our exercise had a few goals. We attempted to harmonize our colours and to be more interpretative with colour. We sought to establish an effective figure/ground relationship by painting all negative spaces first and not last as is too often the practice. Varying the washes added visual interest and, combined with trying to understand the basic forms of the lanterns, gave the paintings a more natural quality of light.

I was pleased to hear that the students really enjoyed our project. They certainly worked hard and with enthusiasm. Have a look at their work and remember to click on a critique image to view a larger version.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Winter Watercolour at DVSA – Week One!

11/01/2019

I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art on Wednesday night with a new group of eager watercolour painters. Mostly new, anyway. It was an even balance of students who’ve taken the course in the past and those who I was meeting for the first time.

As you may glean from the still-life, I went back to basics and discussed value and simplification of form. This course is based on observation of the still-life so the importance of value cannot be understated.

I was pleased with the work of the students. One of the challenges they deal with is the lighting of the objects. You’ll note that some of the paintings are dominated by light and others by shadow. This reveals where the student sat in relationship to the still-life and lamp. As such, I strongly suggest that the students select a different seat in the studio from week to week. It pays off to vary the visual experience as much as possible!

Click on the critique image to see a larger version.

Wednesday Critique

Fall Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Final Week!

01/12/2018

Eight weeks ago, I met this group and, bit by bit, identified what I thought they needed most in terms of process and techniques. The handling of soft edges has been near the top of the list and I’ve demonstrated several times with that in mind. Every Wednesday evening, I tape up the demonstrations that I’ve done to that point. This gives everyone a chance to review previous lessons.

Last Wednesday evening was my final class at the Dundas Valley School of Art for the fall term. Why not finish off with another shot at those soft edges? First of all, I needed a still-life that would suggest softness and the teddy bears were ready to go. They love getting out of the box once in a while.

I painted the bear one shape at a time and tried to create a soft edge, wet touching wet, within each shape. It’s surprisingly difficult to do and takes a lot of thought and practice.

I’ve enjoyed the last eight weeks with this hard-working bunch of artists. I’ve seen improvement and growing confidence in their work. Some have signed up for another round of classes with me that start in January and I look forward to working with them again. Care to join us? Check the DVSA winter calendar for details.

Wednesday Critique

 

Fall Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Four!

28/11/2018

I wanted to combine some interesting shapes and textures with rich colours for the final still-life of the fall term at Arts on Adrian. Saturday is an all-day class and I always keep that in mind with my demonstration. The still-life featured decorative patterns in the tea tins and the fabric so I discussed colour selection for those elements of the subject. The black box was started with soft-edge washes before the suggestion of texture. Do candle flames have a crisp or soft edge? Both options were considered.

The students did well with the flames although one individual snuffed the candle out. I don’t know if it was a philosophical statement or not. Either way, it was a very creative day.

Sustained Saturday Critique

I started off the Tuesday class with a review of the Saturday demonstration. I suggested that the students simplify the patterns of the tins and fabric as they have only half the painting time of the Saturday class. Also, I took a look at the wicker basket on the wine bottle and pointed out it’s underlying volumes and how they receive light. The texture is more meaningful when the volumes are well-understood.

More time, please! The still-life had it’s challenges and most of the Tuesday students would have appreciated another hour or so of painting time. I like the way these paintings are going, though.

Saturday and Tuesday classes start again in January. I’ll have my Winter Calendar posted on this site soon. Thanks for following and liking our fall classes at Arts on Adrian in the west end of Toronto, Ontario!

Tuesday Critique

 

 

 

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Seven!

23/11/2018

I like these geometric objects as a watercolour subject as they can be broken down into their component shapes. Each shape can be painted with a soft-edge transition; wet touching wet. Soft-edge techniques have become a major theme of this Wednesday evening class at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Why not? These techniques are fundamental to the medium and were, once again, the focus of my demonstration.

The students have been working hard. Some are doing homework and it has paid off. They are becoming increasingly confident (although you wouldn’t know it from listening to them) and I like their progress very much. We have one more class to go this term. See you next week!

Wednesday Critique