Monday, June 28, 2010

A Morning with Richard Rennie

I was treated  through the Watercolour Society of South Africa  (WSSA) to a wonderful morning watching watercolour demonstrations by South African acclaimed artist Richard Rennie. Born in Zimbabwe (formally Rhodesia) and now settled in a little arty town called Clarens in the Orange Free State, Richard is fully adept to painting in oils and acrylics, but because of his impulsive nature, found watercolour his medium of choice. Richard has had too many 'one man' exhibitions to mention and has exhibited his work in South Africa and abroad. Whilst in his quest to expand his range of subjects which include more impressionistic abstract landscapes, he has returned to painting in oils, acrylics and mixed media.

A completed landscape - Richard Rennie

A delightful person to know, Richard kept the class entertained with his keen sense of humour and had us in stitches as he quietly demo'ed his beautiful work. He claims he is too old to do workshops and now quietly paints whilst his class look on and throw questions at him.
 Richard starts his paintings with a Wet in Wet sky before 
moving onto a Wet on Dry landscape
 
I was blown away by his non-conformist "breaking-all-the-rules" philosophies about watercolour.
Firstly, many of the things I've ever been taught in watercolours were totally blown out the window. There must be some truth in his approach to watercolour if his beautiful watercolours are anything to go by! His sky's are out of this world. His colour selection is very unplanned, he told us NOT to ask him which colour he was using as he didn't know. His palette as huge and looked in disarray with colours mixed all over the show. He did happen to know one colour which is a favourite.... Australian Green Gold made by Art Spectrum. I would assume that it's a wonderful colour to use in painting South African landscapes. He uses a lot of Holbein pigments too. He likes the rich colour it produces and waters down well to get a transparent finish.
An abstract landscape Richard completed for us in under 20 minutes.


He believes we need to go and play in the sand with our new brushes.... just to ruffle them up a bit!!!!!
He claims bad brushes produce the best work! Huh? go figure!
He also never refreshes his water pot.  I've never seen such dirty water..... just he way he likes it.!
Richard unconventionally works from the outside of the painting into the focal point as he believes that you can focus on the main focal area last and add to it if needs be.
Richard Rennie with a completed landscape. Don't know if you 
can see but note his brush just sitting in his rather brown looking water bowl.

I thoroughly enjoyed my morning and wonder if I'll be making use of Richard Rennie's beautiful yet unconventional methods of watercolour. I suppose we all as artist strive to learn constantly in our quest for self-satisfaction and gratification.

On the sixth day, God created the artist, realizing no doubt that He had far from exhausted the uses of color. (Robert Brault)

17 comments:

Carol Blackburn said...

Thanks for sharing this, Debbie. He's a very interesting artist I had never heard about before. Look forward to seeing what you do with your new found artistic knowledge. Hmmmmm!

Sandra said...

It's amazing how we learn all of these 'rules' and yet all of the best artists break most of them! Maybe we should all just throw away the rule book and just paint, for the sake of painting!

Cathy Gatland said...

Wonderful post, thanks Debbie for sharing this - I'm kicking myself now that I didn't go, thinking I had too much else on, but this sounds like a mustn't (shouldn't have) miss. I somehow imagined that R.R. would have many rules to produce such stunning paintings... so, are you going to mash your new squirrel brushes into the dirt?;)

Cathy Gatland said...

Wonderful post, thanks Debbie for sharing this - I'm kicking myself now that I didn't go, thinking I had too much else on, but this sounds like a mustn't (shouldn't have) miss. I somehow imagined that R.R. would have many rules to produce such stunning paintings... so, are you going to mash your new squirrel brushes into the dirt?;)

Cathy Gatland said...

Wonderful post, thanks Debbie for sharing this - I'm kicking myself now that I didn't go, thinking I had too much else on, but this sounds like a mustn't (shouldn't have) miss. I somehow imagined that R.R. would have many rules to produce such stunning paintings... so, are you going to mash your new squirrel brushes into the dirt?;)

martinealison said...

Hi Debbie,
Il est toujours très intéressant de s'apercevoir que dans le domaine de l'art tout est permis, les règles peuvent être franchies et très souvent pour des résultats séduisants, à partir du moment où toute votre âme, tout votre être transparaissent sur le support... ce qui est important c'est l'émotion qu'on donne et qui est perçu chez le spectateur, double bonheur. Et merci Debbie pour le bonheur de nous faire connaître ce personnage, cet artiste... A vos pinceaux, laissez-les danser au rythme de votre coeur et de vos ressentis...

Debbie said...

For my Non-French speaking blogger friends.... this is a direct translation from Martine Alison's reply to me.It is always very interesting to realize that in the field of art everything is allowed, rules can be crossed and very often for appealing results, as soon as all your soul, all your being show through on the support what is important it is the emotion which they give and that is perceptible at the spectator's, doubles happiness. And thank you Debbie for happiness to introduce us this figure, this artist... In your brushes, let them to the rhythm of your heart and to your feeling dance...

Martine, I always look forward to your replies and comments on my posts, you exude happiness and always offer such excitement. Thank you so much for these lovely words....and you are so right, we can divert from the rules to bring out the best in our work. sometimes

Debbie said...

Oh Cathy, I'm sorry too that you never managed to see him in action. It was a spur of the moment decision of mine, and glad I just took the plunge in my busy schedule to go.
I'm off now to take my squirrel hair for a walk in the garden!.

Debbie said...

Sandra, Thanks for popping in, yes I think we derive much from a rule book, but it's also fun when we discover that rules are there to be broken, specially when we achieve exciting results along the way.

Debbie said...

Hi Carol, I've admired Richard's work for many years ad always wondered how he achieved such soft fluid stokes.... now I've seen him in action and hopefully practice a few landscapes once my busy life settles down a bit. Thanks for your time & leaving this comment!

jane minter said...

you're lucky to have seen him paint debbie ...wonderful post

Cathy said...

Meeting artists like this is a very good way to learn, isn't it?

Crystal Cook said...

Fantastic post Debbie! His paintings are inspiring, and I always love to see the process behind the finished work. Very cool, looks like a great time :)

Debbie said...

Thank you so much Jane, Cathy and Crystal. I am a visual learner and just love watching artists paint. You derive so much more when you can physically see how a painting is brought together, one step at a time. You extract all the ideas of different artists and add them all in your own work to form your own unique style!!!!

Marie Theron said...

Ah, RR still going strong! I saw his demo in Constantia in the ninetees! Thank you for the lovely reporting, Debbie!

Annaquarel.les said...

Thank you for introducing Richard Rennie to us. It is always interesting to see how acclaimed artists approach watercolour. Your comment on the dirty water reminded me of Ron Ranson. I took a workshop some years ago and I was shocked to find he painted with dirty water but amazed at the results.
You finally come to the conclusion that there are many ways to approach watercolour but you have to find your own voice. Have a nice Sunday!

Shaz said...

Hi,I'm a new girl on the block, Thank you so very much for sharing. I have been working in oils since I've started painting and know next to nothing about watercolors. a group of fellow artists and I are off on a five-day workshop with Mr Rennie, and although I'm going to be completely out of my comfort zone, I'm soo looking forward to leaning a bit about the techniques of this medium. I will gladly share with you too and will post my experiences (and my 'masterpieces') on my blog.