The Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour (CSPWC) Symposium was held this past week at The Gaelic College in St. Anns Cape Breton. Since my cousin lives only a hop skip and a jump over Kelly’s Mountain, I imposed on her goodwill for room and board and decided to get out of my comfort zone.
It was a solid week of learning from some masterful artists. Not only did I paint some decent waves but I finally clued in to some of the finer rules of perspective.
All are original works done on site with the exception of the two painted in Ron Hazell’s class where I tried to copy his examples with varying degrees of success. I even attempted a life study, Bill Rogers daughter was our model, which was a first for me! As Ron kindly put it, “these are just studies for a better painting later.” Still testing my limits.
Today, while the group was honouring Maud Lewis by reproducing her paintings, I headed out to Houston’s Beach to practice some winter sketching at high tide. The sketch could have been entirely done using raw sienna, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue. And, while I tried to keep my palette muted, I couldn’t resist throwing in some bright reds. Maud might have approved.
It’s been a couple of years since our trip to Ireland. I finally did this painting of the fishing fleet to use in a brief demonstration I agreed to put on for our group. It’s mixed media but mostly watercolour. I chose a fairly monochromatic palette to accentuate the light. The boats are at rest but there is still so much going on. Can you feel the tension between busy and quiet?
Back to boring old watercolours (kidding about the boring). Today we are painting on our own for the last day of the retreat. This is one of many views from the deck of the cottage where we are staying. I simplified the background and by eliminating about one half of the lobster traps on the wharf reduced the amount of detail. From the look of the trees and water, I was still inspired by the yupo lessons of yesterday! The house on the hill is a bit of an odd duck in the scene but is actually there. I may yet remove it but it makes me smile when I look at it… kind of a deus ex cabina.
When I said in my last post that things got weirder, I couldn’t imagine mixing spackle and white glue and then painting on it with watercolour. We prepared our papers in the morning. By the end of the day we had also experimented with methyl hydrate, alcohol, rinse-aid, and hand sanitizer. This last painting doesn’t incorporate all of those techniques but the experiments were fun and eye opening! This may actually be my favourite one of the day!
After lunch we worked with acrylic, treating it like watercolour. Watercolour paper was primed with flat white house paint. I was pretty impressed with the ability to manipulate the materials. Rules were broken. Working from light to dark and dark to light — all options were doable! The day was about to get weirder.
I watch the tide daily and when our instructor gave us this assignment, I felt I would be in my element. Even though the lines and subject were simple the subtle shades were easy to under/overdo. The sandstone cliff took three tries. I’m okay with the result but I didn’t want it to be a focal point. What I liked best was the wet sand where the shore and water overlap.
The challenge was, do I treat this like water or like sand? To achieve the desired effect I overlaid a bit of colour from each at either edge and traced (dry brushed) it into the space between. Standing back it has a nice effect and captures the feel of many places along the Fundy shoreline.