Workshop Demonstration

June 29, 2010

Quiet Time, Watercolor on Arches 140#CP 14" x 21"

Activities over the past two weeks have included teaching at two different watercolor workshops. Classes ran three days with sessions running 9am to 4pm. Eighteen plus hours of face time with the students and more than thirty hours getting all the exercises and demonstrations prepped and ready for teaching, finding and duplicating reference photographs, locating past exercise sheets to help with possible questions, organizing my thoughts and teachings, etc. As much as I plan and prep the activities, I still have to keep flexible and have additional pieces of watercolor paper at the ready to help answer students questions via demonstrations. Some answers are best communicated by sight rather than a  verbal explanation.

Based on a few questions during my most recent workshop, I revised my planned demonstration for our last day of class. This meant spending some time at the end of our second day erasing the design from my previously planned demonstration and drawing a design. I also took time to create a couple thumbnail paintings to help illustrate my ideas.

The demonstration consisted of discussing my drab reference photograph of a local farmstead and thumbnail sketches which illustrated some different design possibilities. I also reviewed the thumbnail paintings (approximately 7″ x 11″). These trial paintings are produced very quickly and help  illustrate additional design considerations, reveal possible painting challenges and help give the students an idea of the intended finished product. We discuss my plan for progressing through the painting, possible mishaps which I might encounter and moves to avoid or lesson possible disasters.

During the painting demonstration, students are able to see how I “Outline, Refine and Define” the areas of my work. They are able to see how I hold and maneuver my brushes. How I apply the paint and water. Why I utilize an old bath towel to protect some areas and clean out other spots. They realize that when I slip and utter an “Oops”,  not only would I not make a good surgeon, but that I do encounter some slips along the way. They find out that these missteps are more common than they imagined and that the problems need not be fatal (learn to accept the involvement and input by the gods of art).

After I have my design Outlined, we discuss changes I will make based upon what the painting is giving me. Through the stages of the work, I routinely stop to utilize hair dryers to ensure that my paper is thoroughly dry before I move to the next step. The students ask questions and questions and more questions. Occasionally I stop to address a query which requires finding and relating an exercise worked earlier in the class.  It’s great. Water sloshing, brushes moving in time to the music from a CD, paint flying, and trusting that I can pull off this painting in front of this attentive audience.

In about two hours the painting is fairly complete. The students are able to witness the progression of this work, we did not trip the electric circuit while using the hair dryers and I ended up with only a small spot of paint on my pants. This demonstration went well.

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