Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

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

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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 Six!

19/11/2018

The pomegranates made their way from Toronto to the Dundas Valley School of Art just in time for the Wednesday evening class. I’ve been focusing on basics with this group and some of the students requested a demonstration of even, ungraded washes over larger areas. Good idea!

Nothing is intrinsically better or worse in a watercolour painting. There are roles for both crisp and soft edges. Graded washes can be very attractive but a flatter, even wash may be appropriate at times. At the very least, the watercolour painter should know how to do it.

There was a lot to talk about for such a simple looking thing. A wash of a single pigment is easier to apply than a wash comprised of two or more pigments. Lighter washes (more water) are easier to apply than darker washes (more pigment). I discussed how to plan the direction of the wash and follow the bead. Mix enough paint so you don’t run out partway through. Don’t dip your brush in the water as it will dilute the wash and often create blossoms. Float the paint on gently and don’t grind your brush into the paper. It takes practice and thought.

It was a challenge but everyone will improve gradually. Overall, the students had a very strong evening of painting and I was pleased to see the progress. Technique will get better; again with lots of practice. I’m seeing much more confidence in the handling of values and colour than even a few weeks ago. Well done!

Wednesday Critique

Fall Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Three!

15/11/2018

It’s pomegranate season! I’d been keeping an eye on quality and prices for the past week or so and the creativity stars aligned in time for our Saturday and Tuesday classes. Cézanne loved to paint pomegranates and that’s good enough for me.

I talked mostly about colour selection on Saturday. The study on the upper right shows cast shadows on three different surfaces; a green plate, a gold fabric and a white fabric. Notice how the colour of the cast shadow relates to the colour of each surface.

I discussed the lessons from the Saturday demonstration with the Tuesday students, as well. In addition to that, I did a few studies and varied the washes using soft edge techniques.

The students paid attention to my offerings but didn’t need me for inspiration. Maybe, they channeled their inner Cézannes. They certainly made the most of our annual still-life of juicy pomegranates.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Five!

09/11/2018

This pile of old ball caps was our painting subject at the Dundas Valley School of Art last Wednesday evening. We’ve already painted ceramic and metal objects as well as fruit and vegetables. Why not these soft, crumpled forms that take the light so nicely?

Several of the students had upgraded their watercolour paper to something more absorbent and of a better quality and I’m glad they did. I reviewed soft edge techniques again and stressed simplification. It’s not necessary to paint every single wrinkle!

Last week, many of the students struggled. One reason was the usual and quite normal adjustment to new techniques. The other reason was trying to overcome the hurdle of cheap paper. What do I really think about the importance of using an appropriate paper? I promise not to mention it again.

There was a happy atmosphere during our critique at the end of the evening. Gaining competence with these techniques will continue to require lots of practice but the work looked great!

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Four!

07/11/2018

It was our fourth evening at the Dundas Valley School of Art and we’re already at the midpoint of the fall term. It was also Halloween although I didn’t choose a thematic still-life. Instead, I went for these colourful metal objects. I wanted to discuss soft edge techniques again and these seemed to be an appropriate subject.

I reviewed and elaborated on a few ways to create the gentle transitions of a soft edge. How wet is the first wash? How dark is the second wash? Timing! There was a lot to talk about. The bottom right study, by the way, was an example of how not to do a wash. You had to be there.

I also stressed the importance of using the right paper for the job. My material list suggested absorbent papers such as Arches, Winsor & Newton and Saunders; all 140lb. and cold pressed. Unfortunately, many of the students disregarded this and purchased cheap, non-absorbent paper. I’ve watched them struggle with it for a few weeks and brought it to their attention again last Wednesday. We’ll see what they turn up with tonight.

Everyone worked hard and gained experience and that’s the important thing. However, we’ll see if better quality paper makes a difference over the next few weeks. It should. That’s why they make the good stuff.

Wednesday Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week Three!

25/10/2018

I employed the KISS rule yesterday at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Keep it simple, student! Last week, you may recall that very few of the paintings were finished at the end of the night. I don’t really care as to whether or not they’re finished but I do think it’s important to go through the whole process. With that in mind, I suggested a few options; smaller paintings and/or less objects in the painting. In addition to that, I opted to use pears, always a classic subject, with some simple pots to set them off.

My demonstration sheet below is of the ‘you had to be there’ variety. It doesn’t look like much but I used it to discuss basic ‘soft edge’ techniques. The demonstration plus our discussion clicked somehow.

I’d like to take a little bit of credit for the results but I didn’t paint these watercolours, did I? Overall, the students really pushed themselves and were much more satisfied with their work than they had been last week. I’m also pleased that the less-experienced watercolour painters have shown improvement every class. See you at DVSA next week!

Wednesday Critique

Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian This Week!

17/10/2018

Fall term began last Saturday at the Arts on Adrian studio in the west end of Toronto. I set up a similar still-life to the one I used recently at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Pumpkins, squashes and gourds; very seasonal and fun to paint.

My demonstration for the classes focused on the relationship between drawing and linear composition. In addition to that, I discussed the pattern that is created by a tonal/value understanding of the subject. I also touched on colour mixing for some of these objects.

There’s always lots of creative energy in these classes and the work was impressive. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back at Arts on Adrian in two weeks!

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Afternoon Critique

Wednesday Watercolour at DVSA – Week One!

12/10/2018

Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend, the leaves are falling and it’s time for Fall term at the Dundas Valley School of Art. I was back in Studio Two for an evening of intermediate watercolour painting on Wednesday. It was nice to see several familiar faces and to meet a bunch of artists for the first time.

Where does one start with a new class? The first evening gives me a chance to see how everyone likes to handle the medium and for the students to get to know me. I discussed the basic guidelines of a sound process; ‘light to dark’ and ‘big to small’. I didn’t focus overly on technique; just a step-by-step picture-making process. I worked on my demonstration in front of the class for a while before they got to work. While they painted, I continued with the process and showed them the study as I painted each step.

I also kept an eye on their paintings over the course of the evening. Generally, the work was quite competent but I noted a few things that I’ll discuss with next week’s demonstration. Click on the image below and you’ll see a larger version of our first Fall Wednesday Critique.

Wednesday Critique

Vermont 2018 – Our Last Day was Friday at Glover!

09/10/2018

One more to day to go and the weather was beautiful! One more demonstration, as well, and I decided to offer two basic approaches to painting clouds.

In my first study, all the shapes were drawn in pencil first. I left a fair bit of paper white on the puffy clouds but used an off-white wash in the ‘background’ clouds. Washes were allowed to dry before new ones were applied. The puffy clouds were painted one at a time. I started them with either clean water or a pale wash and touched in the darker values while wet. Very step by step and it took about fifteen minutes or so (using a hairdryer sped things up).

My second study took about four minutes. Cloud shapes were loosely indicated with light pencil marks. I wet the sheet with water overall but left dry patches for the white of the clouds. The light blue went in next and the darker cloud values followed.

The two different basic approaches were appreciated by the group. Of course, there are probably as many ways to paint clouds as there are actual clouds but one has to start somewhere.

Our painting site was the town of Glover and it was full of Vermont character with a wonderful general store and Red Sky Trading. A short stroll took some of our painters into the rural countryside. The colours were out in their glory and it was another fulfilling and creative day.

A shady spot

A not so shady spot

Feeling the Bern!

All good things come to an end, as they say. This was our last day and we had an evening itinerary. First, however, we returned to the Ski Hut Studio to look at our work from Friday. Remember to click on a critique image to view a larger version.

Friday Critique a

Friday Critique b

Friday Critique c

On Friday evening, we enjoyed a fine Farewell Dinner at the Highland Lodge. Heidi, Chad, Brittany, Arnold and the whole team had looked after us very well all week long and our dinner was a great way to wrap up. There was musical entertainment, as well, and Heidi sang a song to our group of watercolour painters. It was the John Denver classic, ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’.

After dinner, it was back to the studio for our Final Critique. Each artist selected three works to show us and it was a nice way to summarize and recall our endeavours together. Several of the group stayed on Saturday and explored even more of the Northeast Kingdom but our workshop was over.

Thanks go to all of our participants, the staff at Highland Lodge and the very friendly Vermonters we encountered every day. Thank you for following! Next stop is from March 21-31, 2019 in beautiful and safe San Miguel de Allende. Care to join me for a painting adventure in Mexico? Click here to view all of the details!