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)