Friday, March 19, 2010

My week with Hazel Soan - Day I

What a fabulous week I've had! I attended a watercolour workshop with Hazel Soan, international artist and author. To say that the enthusiasm and energy from Hazel is electric, would be an understatement. She is bubbling with knowledge and a wonderful person to meet.

Sitting anxiously in my first session, watching as she explained that we are not creating a picture on paper but  a whole array of 'brush strokes'. Shapes are what we must be looking at, not the object that we see. It's all about light and brush strokes!!!

When painting, we need to be looking at tone and light not exact colours.... 'Watercolour' is the reason we paint a subject not the subject wanting to be painted. Do you get my jist? You can take the dullest photo and make it alive with watercolour, as long as the tones and lights are there. Even when sitting out in the fresh air painting a scene,one must look for relative tone. We need not copy the exact colours we see, but paint to entertain the eye!

Leaves: They are not leaves but 'brush strokes'. By adding colour to the leaves brings in life as colour changes according to surrounding and light.

 1 stroke 'brush stoke leaves'

 2 or multiple brush stroke leaves

Flowers: They are not flowers but splashes of beautiful colour!

Practising flowers with just brushstrokes 

 Sunflowers using Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue with Aureolin for leaves

Limit your colour palette and keep it simple, "watercolour is perfect".... less is more as they say in the classics.

Learning wonderful tips from Hazel was so exciting. She taught us about which useful colours we should keep on our palettes, the size of our waterpots...hers were surprisingly small!.... and she doesn't use much pigment when mixing either. Pigment is precious and I was amazed to find how much I was wasting by rinsing my bushes so often.

We also learnt wet in wet work with brush strokes. By adding enough pigment strength on the brush will determine how far your colour bleeds back into the wet background, Fascinating!!!!!

 Backlit  Reeds

You can see the different strengths of pigment by the size of the bleed (middle), as the background dried so the strokes became more crisp (right). But one is able to achieve incredibly thin lines in wet paper if your pigment is strong.

One very valuable lesson I learned was that paper is of utmost  importance. The first few studies were done on really grotty quality paper and it shows. I eventually succumbed to using Arches rough 300gsm for my studies! Sounds incredibly extravagant, but found that you can't achieve the right results if you use poor quality paper.

Thanks Hazel for a wonderful first day!!!

I will be back to fill you in on the rest of the week.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hazel Soan * Watercolour Workshop

Just a quick note before retiring after a full day at Hazel Soan's workshop. Which by the way, is so enlightening and wonderfully informative. I'm taking the easy route for now with an insight from a fellow blogger and wonderful artist Cathy Gatland taken from her blog 'A sketch in Time".

I promise to update you all on her workshop through the eyes of Debbie Schiff soon. But for now.... it's long past my bedtime and I need to be all refreshed for another session of Hazel's workshop tomorrow.

Night night!