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  • Writer's pictureHilda Van Netten

Workshop Challenges Overcome

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Teaching acrylic artists to paint in watercolours is something I have not had a lot of experience with. Watercolour painting requires a different process from acrylics.

* You usually go from light to dark with watercolours - acrylics... whatever?

* You can paint 'wet on wet' (paper wet, paint wet) and get wonderful, airy results in watercolours.... not so much in acrylics

* Brush strokes are even different

* Your paper is your white..... no white paint. (Well, there is white watercolour, but you can't use it like you would with acrylics.

So, when I was invited by the Loyalist Decorative Painters Guild to teach a day long workshop, I knew I needed some good tools. One of them was subject matter. When looking for great photo references I usually go to Flickr and contact photographers there, asking permission to use their photos as reference. I came across Welsh photographer, Steve Ellaway and was drawn to an ethereal woodland scene that he'd photographed. Below is that photo. I like how you can figure out many techniques in one photo: wet-on-wet for the hazy trees in the background, wet on dry for the dark trees in the foreground.

One other thing that I insisted upon was that our artists make their own black! Below are some of the results. It's interesting how each artist's style comes out in their painting.

Good example of paying attention to the darkness and lightness of the trees. She just had to use black paint that was more watery for the trees in the background so more of the paper would shine through to make them look lighter.

This artist below did a fine job of saving the white of the paper for the light area. Remember, your paper is you're white.

There were 11 artists at the workshop, all doing great work. The artist below struggled at first. I think she ended with a great painting. I feel like I am in the woods when looking at it. And, isn't that what you would want as an artist? To make the viewer feel like they are there?

In reflecting on the use of Steve Ellaway's photo, I think it really helped our artist to overcome the challenges that they faced using watercolours. It gave them a manageable subject.

Well done, ladies!!!

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