Tag: Brenda Swenson

Watercolor Workshop, Day 3

Today was the last day of the workshop with Brenda Swenson.  She is a fabulous teacher who takes time with her students, with a personal quality that is positive and constructive.  I learned a lot from three days immersed in watercolor, and I think I turned a corner in how I handle color.  Besides being a good teacher – meaning her critiques and advice are sound – she also opened my eyes to a number of different things.

One lesson:  paint the same item 6 different ways.

Another lesson:  Use Canson pastel paper for painting!  The colors are good, the paper is 70% cottong, and those two things work well together.  Brenda brought in donuts for our first project.  Mine is below.

For the remainder of the day, we worked on vignettes.  I knew that vignettes were little images with white surrounding them.  So?  Well, it turns out that there is a real art to vignettes.  Making the image cruciform – in the shape of a cross – with portions of the painting touching the top, bottom, and sides (1 or all 4), but not flowing into the corners, makes for a vignette.  Key to an interesting picture is that each shape is in each corner is different than the others; additionally, work some of the white of the corners into the painting itself.  I was surprised to find myself rather calm today, rather than flighty and unfocused like yesterday.

Mine worked out fairly well.  A valid criticism was to make the lower windows somewhat greenish and warm, rather than a cold blue, to reflect the light of the unseen grass in the yard.  A glaze was suggested.

My second painting was supposed to be a vignette, but failed on the middle side portions.  I may go back in to fix it later.

Brenda provided all of us with incredible photos from her travels to use in the workshop, which in addition to unique items like plastic frogs and pecks of fake fruit, made for a really good experience.  My weekend was only too short!

Watercolor Workshop, Day 2

Another day just painting!  What a pleasure to be able to do it!

Today we did two different things.  Actually, three.  For warm-up, we returned to the quick three minute sketches, which eventually morphed into a still life with three objects.  Mine were a piece of dried corn, a plastic mushroom, and a plastic artichoke.  I was not particularly nimble this morning, but here is one I produced.

From there, we moved on to landscapes, but I will hold off for a moment on those.  We did an exercise which I found fascinating:  take one object and paint it 6 different ways.  I chose a really lovely fake pear – golden and red, reminiscent of autumn.  Take a look  . . . they are in a gallery format, so click on one image to be able to scroll through them larger than they are here.

This was a lot of fun to do – nothing I ever have considered as an exercise.  And then . . . we moved on to landscapes from photographs Brenda took, laminated, and brought to class.

The idea was to take a photo and modify it.  This one is in the wine country of Northern California.

This one is, I think, in Carmel, but I don’t recall.  All the speckles are from the fact that it is a ghost image from a wet painting.  Truthfully, I was surprised it was a success at all.  All day I felt restless and unfocused.

Finally, this one.  I think it is the best of everything I did today.  The mantra for the day was draw, frame, paint.

Watercolor Workshop, Day 1

I was lucky enough to get a spot in Brenda Swenson‘s watercolor workshops in the Los Angeles area.  I was waitlisted and got unwaitlisted.  Now I am thoroughly enjoying myself!

Today was the first day.  We started out with loose, continuous line drawings.  Start and stop, but never lift up the pen.  The point of the exercise is to create “lost edges” – leave out a line and let the mind fill in the rest.  While not the first exercise, we did this one to compare and contrast the interest that comes with lost edges.

The study on the left is an upside-down plastic frog.  Drawing all the outlines and then some – not too exciting.  The second one, while not especially great, gets the point across:  lost edges give you something to participate with in the drawing.

More studies followed.  I did a clove of garlic, a packet of string, and a David Austin-esque rose.

I like all of these, but the rose is my favorite.  We could only spend three minutes for each picture.  Something to think about:  how much time do you have to do a drawing or a painting?  I must say I never considered that.

From drawing with lost edges, we moved on to painting with lost edges.  We did ink sketches and then used watercolor.  In watercolor, the lost edges work their magic while the paint is wet, and the artist judiciously touches one wet color to another, allowing the colors to bleed into one another.  In particular, Brenda pointed out how this works for shadows, especially for reflected light, form shadow, and even (but lesser) for cast shadows.

She said she pays a great deal of attention to shadows . . . I never really thought about shadows quite so much!  Below are two I did.  The one with the apricots worked out well, I think; we did three 3-minute sketches of the same object in ink or whatever, and then penciled in the shadows prior to painting.

Finally, while I was rather impatiently waiting for areas of this image to dry, I did a casual sketch of a carrot, working to create lost lines and bleeds.  I just did it freehand with a brush over a line drawing I had done earlier in the session.  Serendipity sometimes works in your favor!

Tomorrow, painting from photographs . . . and a critique.  Eek!