Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My week with Hazel Soan - Day 2 and 3

Day 2... ANIMALS.....

I was quite eager to see how Hazel painted her animals. Her wonderful Book, African Watercolours is a book I purchased a while back and have been itching to find out how she achieves her wonderfully loose strokes with minimal effort and yet so vibrant.

We started by watching as she effortlessly painted her Ostrich without preliminary sketch.... a light Yellow Ochre wash as her base and then dropping in colours to the neck and into the body whilst still wet.

This is my version...... (note: elongate figures to create better balance).... something I learned from Hazel which as you can see I forgot to do.....

Short fat Ostriches

This is what they should have turned out like.....courtesy Hazel Soan!

Note the lovely broken highlights on the backs!

She then did demo's of animals with backligting and sidelighting. In her first demo of a backlit animal she painted a wash for the background, no preliminary sketch as the subject is darker than the background, and just needed to be filled in with darker colours. The Cormorant was her subject for these.

 Laying down the first wash 

While that was drying she started the side-lit Cormorant which had a sketch drawn just to pick up where the highlights were going to be placed. She carefully placed her background washes around her subject, concentrating on where her dark side was and strengthening the colour on the high-lighted side.

Adding an Aureolin and Prussian wash.
(note the distortion, the pics were taken looking at an overhead mirror)
Back to the dried Cormorant, she then added the shapes of the log and bird using Y Ochre and Burnt Sienna mixed with FUM Blue.

The other Cormorant needed form so this was added once the wash had dried. Leaving wonderful highlights on his back and the log. The highlights were softened to blend in with the background.

Shapes are filled in using Aureolin, Prussian and Sepia.

Hazel's completed pair...... (below)

                                    My attempts

 We went on to Antelope next... this was exciting and we watched as she effortlessly added stokes to create gorgeous Springbok. A funny story she related to us was how she paints in the wild whilst driving....  she has her sketch pad resting on the steering wheel as she slowly drives past the animal. Now you can imagine how quickly she needs to sketch down all that information onto a piece of paper, before the animal bolts off. I admire people who have the ability to paint like this, knowing instinctively where to place her colours at a moments notice, from life.

She produced well proportioned animals without a pre-sketch, but I suppose if you have been painting for so long it comes naturally. Something I need to work on. Her confident, vivid bold colours are wonderful to see.

For our antelope we used a light Ochre wash as a base and added Burnt Sienna to the shape leaving a bit of Ochre and white paper to indicate light. FUM Blue was dropped in to the shadowed areas while still wet. Areas were softened with a tissue or soaked up with a clean brush.

On to Giraffes....... On our last and final Animal of the day we explored a Giraffe. Here we did a preliminary sketch first to preserve lights. For time constraints I'm going to suggest you visit Cathy Gatland's blog for a step by step of Hazel's Giraffe. I was quite happy with the way my Giraffe turned out.

Here's my version

On to Day 3.....

We were introduced to painting figures... not my strongest point, but felt I needed to plough in all my energies for this demo as I have painted so few 'figures' in the past, in fact, I don't think I've ever painted figures in landscapes before. I was very attentive to the demo she did...I was laughing so, at some of the forms that were taking place on my paper making me realise that I have a long way to go with figures. Firstly, My paint was much too thin, secondly the paint dried to quickly and lastly I forgot to 'elongate' my people. Again Hazel make this look so easy... a few blobs of paint here and there, and there we go, a wonderful figure in just a few minutes!!!

 Too wishy washy

My strokes of colour should have looked like this.........

Our next exercise was to paint people with objects such as umbrellas, bags or just painting with the arms crossing the body. Again painting with Blobs of paints to form Head, arms and legs, letting the pigment blend into each other but remembering to allow for  highlights on these things. At this stage I was ready to give up as I felt really useless. Her effortless application to figures as she explained along the way took on a wonderful painting ready for the frame.

The top row of figures in the next slide of Hazel's figures were people with props, the bottom row was an example of how Opaques and Transparent's interact with pigment already applied to paper.

If you look closely to the lady in the turquoise skirt, you will notice that an opaque yellow like Cadium Yellow was added for a floral effect on Transparent Turquoise pigment. The yellow pushed the turquoise away, leaving a lovely yellow on the paper. In the skirt example on the right, Hazel added Aureolin which is a transparent pigment to the turquoise and it changed the turquoise to a green. This, to me was fascinating, although it was logical and I had mixed the two types of pigment before in the past,  I wasn't aware that one could create wonderful effects like this. Something else I learned was......mixing opaque and transparent pigments in your palette will make 'mud'. Wow, now that was something I didn't know!!!!!!

Now you can see why I was laughing as I was painting this lady.

Staying with figures, Hazel painted a demo of two cricketers on a green field. She was explaining how to achieve reflected light on whites. Her colour mix surprised me as I would not have thought that Aureolin and Prussian Blue would be used to create reflected light on white. Fascinating!!!!!!!!

I did not have the same picture to emulate this painting, so I used one of my own.... a picture from a magazine.


Our last demo exercise for the day was a larger figure in strong light. Here Hazel had a wonderful reference. I was so taken with this demo as she again effortlessly added colours and mixes that just made this painting come to life before our eyes. I was specially taken with the way she made Coke-a Cola - Burnt Sienna and a splash of Violet at the bottom of the glass. Simple but so effective.!!!!

This is a similar painting I did as I didn't have a print of her version. Mine is a photo of my Dad with simmilar strong light on his shoulders.

We had worked HARD all day and at this stage, after all the concentration, we were feeling mentally exhausted. Just before close of day, she asked us to come up to her table to watch another demo of strong light on large figures. Here she used strong dark colours using a lot of Sepia to get the strong colours of the clothing as the light was almost creating a back lit effect. None of us attempted this as it was time to lock up the hall and drag ourselves home. Thought I'd post it hear just to show you how it looked. (done in just a few minutes) But worth attempting at a later stage...... if I remember the colours she used!!!!!

Apologies for the distorted view, a photo taken from the reflection of the overhead Mirror.