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Zinging up the colours

Saturdays workshop was one of unexpected contrasts. The tutor  is a very talented woman artist who paints very loosely which in every case that I’ve experienced means very little drawing, or at least it’ s not precise drawing. But her workshop was actually the very opposite as she taught us how to be more specific in drawing buildings in a street scene, and find the three or four most important lines in it andonce they are in, then build up the angles and accompanying lines that make the character of the buildings. I didn’t want to draw the photograph that she was working on, as I like freedom to use my own creativity, and whereas three quarters of the people there did do the same picture as her, there were a few other rebels like me who did something else. Her scene was a shop and awning somewhere in America, mine was a shop and awning and a few more buildings in the South of France from a photo I took in Villefranche sur Mer (just around the corner from Nice and a lot Nicer, ha! I think). She taught us something that I’ve never been shown before, well, not for buildings, I’ve seen similar for life drawing . She showed us how to take the photo you’re working from, and where it has the diagonals of the buildings as they recede into the distance, you take a ruler and place it along that diagonal  in the photo and continue the line of the angle onto the drawing, and you know its right as its the same as in the photo. It was a really useful tip for perspective. Presuming that is you have the two lined up vertically together, and presuming the verticals are vertical of course! She also taught us to start in the middle of a drawing, and work outwards, which I do anyway but hadn’t appreciated its because we tend to stretch things as we draw. Starting in the middle means the important thing is in the right place and the lesser information is around it as filler for the central subject. Its knowing what to leave out that makes a picture as much as what you put in.

Once the drawing was done, and that took an hour or more to get it all correct, we could start on the colours for this watercolour. And here came another useful tip from her, to zing up the colour to create more excitment in our pictures. So whereas I had two pale golden yellow buildings in my photo, and a very pale pastel pink one, she suggested that the yellows should be really bright, probably with a shot of red added to the wet wash, to make them shout out. And the pink should be more of a vibrant pink, possibly with a lime green awning. She also showed us how to stick tissue on with pva glue to add texture, and then to draw with inks and pens, and white acrylic paint to add depth of colour and exciting lines. Even for a six hour workshopA step above (2) there wasn’t enough time to do it all, she knew that, but what she could show us were the possibilities for the work, to add collage, and texture, mixed media, lines of contrast and colour to make the work more exciting. I didn’t finish the painting that day, but it doesn’t matter as its my photo and I can finish it at some future date, making it my painting with my artistic input but knowing the tips I learnt at the weekend. I knew it was a good workshop when I got home because I was mentally whacked for an hour which means I’ve been thinking a lot about what I was doing. Creating art is tiring, it requires a lot of thought!

 And to show you an example of a watercolour street scene I did a few years ago, of a delightful French village in the Ardeche,with some lovely diagonals, here is my painting “A step above” with very few vertical verticals in it, it has a lot of purposely wonky verticals infact, and the colours are muted down not up. I do love it though!

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