I haven't given this workshop in a while ~ since April, actually ~ so it was fun to have a fresh run at it. It was a small class, just four students, so it was quite intimate and enjoyable.
Three former students attended, two of whom brought their own watercolor pencils to use. Normally I provide all the pencils, but I don't mind if students bring their own as long as they keep them separate from mine, since sorting them out at the end of the workshop could be a headache.
After a spin around the color wheel, we made a brief sortie into Right-brain contour drawing to get started on the right track. In this class, we only do a little drawing, concentrating instead on learning how to use the watercolor pencils effectively.
The class has some "coloring book" aspects, since there isn't time to do a lot of drawing AND coloring instruction in a two-day workshop. So I provide most of the drawings and they practice the techniques and processes of coloring them.
Still, it's nice to do at least some projects from start to finish. So our subjects for the contour drawings were seashells, which they later would come back to color with the watercolor pencils after gaining some experience on subjects in the workbook. Here's one of the drawings.
Students often get hung up on finding exactly the right watercolor pencil to use, so I chose their next subject to be totally boring, color-wise ~ a eucalyptus seedpod, dark brown and rather plain. I encouraged them to try mixing opposite colors from the color wheel to get different shades of brown. I also suggested adding touches of unexpected colors for interest, and they took me very literally. Click on the thumbnails here to see the larger images. They're WILD.
Another area which causes either a lot of trouble or terminally boring results is how you shade white items. Gray should be the last resort. When a white subject is near a colored one, the color reflects back onto the white subject with interesting results. You can experiment with this yourself ~ put a white object on a colored surface, and notice how the color reflects up onto the white. In the picture here, you can see the strip of colors I provide to play with these effects.
I gave them interesting white subjects to draw: when I was in Idaho in June I collected a LOT of white bones in the desert, picking them up from where they had been bleaching amidst the fragrant sagebrush plants, crystal-lined geodes and horned lizards. Here's Rachelle sketching a muledeer's jawbone.
What a great job they did on the reflections!
By the way, these were drawn with ballpoint pens, no pencil or erasing.
Then, to get back to a more genteel subject, I taught them how to make dewdrops (or raindrops, take your pick), and we finished off the day by first practicing some textures in ballpoint pen, then going back to color the seashells they had drawn earlier. They could either use the photo for color, or an actual shell from my collection. Here's what those looked like when they were finished:
Fran had to leave at noon to go to her job, so she didn't get to color bones and shells. Fortunately, she was reasonably experienced, and she was able to pick up much of what she had missed by working extra hard the second day.
We started out the second day with another run at the dewdrops. I always do the dewdrops twice because the first time around the results are usually not terrific, and a brush-up the next morning usually produces much nicer results.
Open your coloring books, ladies! On the second day we got into color intensively, learning how to make landscapes, ocean, and water in the first few exercises.
About this time, students who haven't used paintbrushes much before have progressed from just getting color onto the paper to trying to finesse the strokes, so I do an intensive project with a spotted orchid to work on this aspect.
This exercise also teaches a quick, easy, and very effective way to make a background which is suitable for just about any subject. The students produced some nice results, and Gayle used what she had just learned to add a dewdropwith some reflected colors, both pink and green, to her orchid. Be sure to click the orchid below left for a close-up look!
One of the returnees, Marlene, is something of a workshop junkie, and she has learned the value of taking notes during workshops. (It's amazing how much you can forget after leaving the class even with my nice workbooks to refer to later). She incorporated her notes into her journal, along with simple little sketches and paint demos to remind herself of important points.
I wanted to quickly cover fur, tree bark, and sunlight on foliage before starting our final project, so we did our Five Color Bobcat, with students selecting five different brown-orange-yellow-red colors with which to make the fur vibrant (if you watch the hair ads on TV, you'll have noticed how they hype multiple color hi-lights for beautiful hair? Same thing.)
Finally they were ready for their Final Project, for which the local market had produced lovely nectarines. They spent the last hour of class busily coloring their nectarines and practicing ways to add highlights. Don't these make you hungry?
I am proud of this bunch of students. They really rose to the occasion!
My next posting (soon, I hope) will be of the teachers workshop I did yesterday at the North Mountain Nature Center. I taught 13 teachers/volunteers/staff of the nature center how to teach the Observing Nature course, a half-day journal/sketching course for young people. I'll teach it again next week, but this was the first run and I'm happy to say it went without a snag (except that I forgot to hand out my evaluations until half of the participants had already left. A Freudian slip?)
To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here. I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.
My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!