Posts Tagged ‘watercolour demonstration’

Spring Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week One!

17/04/2019

I’m back from sunny Mexico to some less than welcoming spring weather. All the more reason to set up a bright and cheerful still-life for the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour students. I had the still-lifes of Paul Cézanne in mind.

Cézanne developed his gorgeous, luminous watercolours with brushstrokes of pure colour over a pencil drawing. I didn’t mimic his process exactly with my demonstration but we discussed it as I painted. I never insist that the students emulate my demo but I did ask them to give it a try, even as a study for an hour or so. Saturday is a six hour class so there’s time to experiment and explore.

Most gave it a shot and a few spent the day pursuing the approach. Not everyone liked it but they’re always willing to consider new ideas.

Sustained Saturday Critique

The Tuesday students worked from the same still-life. It’s a three hour class and, at the beginning, I sensed some interest in the fabrics and folds. My demonstration, as a result, was a simplified study of a section of fabric and they found it helpful.

They don’t have a full day but they really work hard and they’re quite good at selecting and composing. Basically, they selected and zoomed in on an area of the still-life that attracted their eye. Not taking on too much gave them a better chance to resolve their work in the time available.

Don’t forget to click on a critique image to view a larger version!

Tuesday Critique

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More from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!

01/04/2019

Everyone was refreshed from our day of free time as we met in our studio for my morning demonstration on Wednesday. Our plan was to paint inside the lovely Bellas Artes with it’s cool arcades and tranquil atmosphere. And it’s arches. I used my demonstration to dramatize the feeling of looking into a sunlit space through an arch. I kept my palette simple; cools and warms.

For once, we had no shortage of shade. Most of the students were ready to tackle arches.

Let’s see what happened with those arches! Remember to click on a critique image to view a larger version.

Wednesday Critique a

Wednesday Critique b

Thursday was our last full day of painting. Our plan was to leave on Friday morning for Mexico City (more about that later). We had a lot on our agenda on Thursday so I decided not to offer a demonstration in order to give the group an extra hour of painting time. We walked up to Parque Guadiana, a quiet and pretty park in a residential neighbourhood.

At the end of the day, we gathered at our studio for our Final Critique. I started out by looking at the Thursday paintings and followed that with a selection of work from earlier in the week. It was a nice way to look back on our painting time together.

Thursday Critique a

Thursday Critique b

Wait a minute! What the heck is that bird doing there? One of our painters took a metalworking class while she was here and this was her chance to show us the result.

Thursday Critique c

That was it for our supervised painting days and for our stay in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. My next post will be from Mexico City where we will visit the famous home of Frida Kahlo; Casa Azul.

 

 

 

 

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Seven!

10/03/2019

Last Wednesday, I was back at the Dundas Valley School of Art for our seventh class. We should have wrapped up the term by now but our wild and wintery February has us doing makeup classes. Makeup classes, however necessary, can be attendance killers as the students didn’t schedule for them initially. I was very pleased, therefore, when all but one were able to attend. I appreciated, also, that our missing artist called in to say she wanted to be with us but was unable to do so.

I’d promised to discuss painting even washes, with no (intended) variation. I spent a few minutes on that before making a quick analysis of how the various objects received the light.

I continued to stress a sound process involving a thumbnail sketch as well as lots of colour testing and even a few simple studies of the objects. The students continued to work diligently and thoughtfully and their progress is evident. Don’t forget to click on the critique image to view a larger version.

Wednesday Critique

Winter Wednesday Watercolour Class at DVSA – Week Six!

23/02/2019

Ataulfo mangoes from Mexico. That’s what those yellow things are. A few of the Wednesday evening students were unfamiliar with them so I thought I’d identify them right away. They’re delicious.

It was week six at the Dundas Valley School of Art last Wednesday evening. Our Mexican theme was a stark contrast to the freezing rain and icy sidewalks and roads outside. I reviewed, as I often do, some soft-edge and brush-handling techniques. I’m very pleased with the progress of this group of painters. I don’t think they need a lot of new ideas but generally require quick refreshers and time to solve the painting problems posed by the still-life. Teaching art at this level (intermediate) is mostly reactive, not prescriptive. This is not a beginner class with a pre-planned lesson every session. Therefore, on the first evening, I don’t know exactly what I will teach on the sixth evening. I need to get to know the group in order to respond to their needs.

During the three hours of our class, I circulate and keep an eye on things but I don’t constantly hover. They need to think for themselves. Also, I constantly urge the students to pace themselves by stepping back from their work frequently. Painters need to keep their eyes fresh. It’s very helpful to walk around and see what your fellow painters are up to, as well. We learn from each other in these environments. Every class winds down with a constructive critique. The critique is a very important learning tool and critiques have been a key element of my teaching practice since day one, about thirty years ago. Enough about that, here’s the work from Wednesday night.

Wednesday Critique

Winter Watercolour Classes at Arts on Adrian – Week Three!

20/02/2019

The gloves were off this week at Arts on Adrian in Toronto! These strange, sculptural shapes are hockey gloves and they provided many challenges to the Saturday and Tuesday watercolour painters.

The first challenge was drawing. I approach all subjects the same way, more or less. I start with very basic shapes. Take a look at the study at the bottom of the demonstration sheet. That’s what my drawing looked like before I refined it as in the larger study.

Our next challenge was light and it was a real key to this subject. The gloves are black so we had to keep the lightest areas as luminous as possible. This meant thin washes in those areas; lots of water.

Another challenge was black. I mixed my blacks and greys with Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. However, the students were allowed to change the colours, if they so desired.

In my demonstration, I painted the different segments of the glove one at a time. The structure of the glove lent itself to this approach.

Believe it or not, there are Canadians who hate hockey. I found out who they were as we painted the gloves. Everyone dug deep and worked hard to solve this tricky painting problem. There may have been some frustration but, fortunately, no-one dropped the gloves!

By the way, this blog received it’s 245,000th view today. Thanks, as always, for your interest and support.

Sustained Saturday Critique

Tuesday Critique

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