Thursday, 21 August 2014

2014 all day Workshops

My blog has been really quiet recently but just so you know I haven't been sitting idly around!! I ran the first of my all day workshops at the Boonric Gallery last week but got so involved forgot to take any photos so was determined to remember yesterday!!

The workshop was titled "Loosen Up" your watercolours and was designed to help take the myth out of that loose style we all seem to want to achieve.

I have now been teaching for just over 2 years and I cannot tell you how the teaching has helped my own work... having to verbalise what I am thinking really helps crystallize my thoughts and helps me understand why I'm doing what I'm doing which can only be good for everyone else!!

I usually start my classes, with a run down on how (and more importantly why) I apply the paint to the paper... mixing on the paper and the brush, and it soon becomes very clear to everyone, with the exercises we do, why this way is more exciting and lively.....

We go on to show how you don't need the whole subject for people to understand what you are painting and then do some work on lost edges. I saw lots of light bulb moments in both these workshops... and many comments of how they had never worked this way before....

I demonstrate lots of techniques which when PRACTICED will help someone's painting improve massively... key word there is PRACTICE... remember painting is a skill not a talent but needs PRACTICE to develop!!! I try and show people all the things I was never shown... I think my tutors tended to assume I had this knowledge, when in reality I knew nothing and needed to be taught!! Lesson learned and in my classes I try not to assume anything. The other thing I didn't see much of in those early days was a tutor demonstrating... another valuable lesson for me... I demonstrate everything.... I believe it is much easier to see how someone does something than reading about it.

So the first part of the day involves techniques, tips and hints and then we go on to paint an image which helps put everything into practice.

You may remember I wrote a blog on how to use artistic licence with photos here and this was the image I used for these 2 workshops as it encompassed so many ideas I was trying to get across both in terms of technique and intent.

I explained that when I saw the image (supplied by Ruth Archer from Paint my Photo) I wanted to convey a completely different atmosphere which involved a sunny day and also I was not going to include everything. In my sessions when we are doing a painting I try to encourage the group to use different colours to the ones I am using and often get them to test a combination by using the colour planet idea.

Here are the paintings done by the group... they were all on this course because they wanted to lose some of the detail they were inclined to add and though they didn't all finish, I think they all did terrifically well and really embraced what I was trying to get across. I also need to add that not one person drew this image first... they all went straight in with the paint.. scary!!!

I feel so proud of them all when I see their work together here and have to say the previous group did an equally good job with their paintings too!! As a tutor, what really stands out is how different they all are!! I judge how successful a workshop is, not by how close they are to my work but how different it is!! What I try to do in all my sessions is give people the tools to work on their own, I teach a way of painting which I hope they can incorporate in their own work, in their own way and I encourage them to start by at least choosing their own palette.

In conclusion, I have already had one lady send this to me today......a painting she has done this morning where she has embraced the techniques and worked at it on her own.... how fantastic is that??? Look at this......this is what my sessions are all about, she has used all the techniques and integrated them into a different scene and produced a gorgeous piece. Seeing this,I know this lady has learned enough from the session to incorprate it in her own work... I am so delighted with this, she has done a beautiful job and am sure she is delighted too!!


  1. Look like you had a really busy time. And your students seemed to have learned quite a lot from you. Congrats!

    1. I do hope they have learned something Jean... I think they did!! For me that is what it's all about and because I know it can all be learned it really makes me so happy to see them applying the techniques and skills to their own work....

  2. That must be the best reward ever to see that beautiful painting and to have the lady want to show it to you like that - I love that you encourage your students to develop with their own style while learning the techniques!

    1. It was such a treat to see the painting she did Sharon.... and so soon after the workshop... just how I was having seen Jean Haines demonstrate!! I do think they need to learn the techniques but our brushstroke is as individual as our handwriting and once they have the skill, the way they eventually apply the paint is unique to them....often we are drawn to particular colours which makes our work recognisable, other times it is the way we apply the paint but all starts to contribute to creating our own style..... but, we need the freedom that having some control of the medium gives us and also the confidence of letting the paint and water do the work!! Everyone needs to learn skills and I like to think I add a few tips and tricks of the trade to my sessions which will make their journey a bit easier!!


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