It’s been a while since I went to an art workshop, but, I think, important to do because it opens my mind to new painting techniques, and painting alongside other artists is always good both for the soul, and for learning. Today was a watercolour class, which is a medium I enjoy very much, although I haven’t done much in watercolours recently because I’ve been doing the Fantasy Fannies in acrylic (and although I use them as watercolours, they still react in a different way to watercolours themselves). So, good for me to use watercolours. The subject matter was not one I’ve done for a very long time though. It was ….. wait for it…………… flowers! Pretty flowers – hellebores, to be exact. Mmm…… flowers, not very erotic is it, a bit vanilla. But that’s ok. I can do vanilla. In short bursts. I can cope………
……The tutor was very proficient, and taught us in stages, we first drew out the picture in pencil, then masked out the flowers with masking fluid to protect the white of the petals, then put a wet wash of colour over the background letting the colours merge into each other on the paper. After that had dried we painted the “negative” shapes of the background against the leaves, which made the background colours shine through. I love “lost and found” shapes so my leaves weren’t fully formed which gave the image more interest as the brain can fill out the details. Then we painted the darks in between the leaves and petals to give the image more depth, and make the petals stand out more. Then it was time to remove the masking fluid and paint the shadows on the petals themselves and pick out the yellow of the stamens and picking out any other fine details, like the veins on the leaves and leaf litter below the flowers in their woodland setting.
The tutor wanted the whole class (of 18) to put out their paintings at the end of the days session, leaning them against the wall, so that we could all see what the others had done. She had not met any of us before so she didn’t know our names or standard of worksmanship, but she was pleased at the general result of the group. She went along the paintings as they leant along the wall, giving a few words of encouragement for each painting. Most weren’t finished. The point of workshops is not to expect to take a good finished painting home with you, but to have learnt the techniques being practiced during the day, and to be able to use them in other paintings in the future. So the tutor went along each painting, giving constructive criticism, until she came to mine. She picked it up, and commented on the background washes saying that it had “character” which pleased me immensely. She liked my painting, and made a few comments about it, she liked the “calligraphy” of the artwork, and said that the artist obviously knew how to paint flowers and had probably done the subject matter before, as she was just putting it down to move on to the next painting. There was a general titter in the room that stopped her in her tracks, as I said “Er, can I just say, I DON’T paint flowers, I’m an Erotic Artist, and if I had had time, I would have hidden a naked woman somewhere in the painting!” and she smiled and said quietly (and maybe a little condescendingly?) “Yeh, but not really you wouldn’t” to which I emphatically nodded and said “Yes, REALLLLY!” which stopped her in her tracks as she did a marvellous double-take and said with great regret “But, WHY haven’t you done it today, I WANT to see it!” so I said that when I have chance to finish it, I’ll email her a copy of it so she can see MY version of todays painting. It might not be for a few weeks as I’m working on a commission at the moment, and that will take priority, but I’ll do it, and send her the image.
I can just imagine she’s gone home tonight and her husband has asked her if she’s had a good day, and she’ll say “I had this scary woman in my class today, and you wouldn’t BELIEVE what she’s going to do with my hellebores!”