The workshop I am coordinating is "From Line and Shape to Complex Surfaces." Today Gerald Brommer explained that we should treat the two elements of design, line and shape, as independent of each other. We should not be outlining the shape, nor should we be filling in the shape we've created. Both would look like a coloring book. Instead, we either put down shapes in light to mid-tone values and then draw our image over the shapes, or we draw our image and add shapes. We finish with some overpainting, but again avoid filling in the lines with color. We were told not to erase anything. We could draw in pencil and then in ink, not following the pencil line exactly. We drew on quarter sheets from our own reference materials.
We selected one piece for critique (I actually did 3 quarter sheets and started a fourth). I choose Cinque Terre wildflowers, done from a photo taken when pal, Joan, and I went to Italy for a watercolor workshop in Western Tuscany. First we spent a few days in a tiny town just south of the Cinque Terre, where we relaxed, hiked, and sketched. Gerri liked the piece and made two suggestions for improvement, which I haven't done yet -- balance the right corner with a small shape of strong color on the lower left, and add more line to the two plants that reach above the sea on the left. He was enthusiastic about my cypresses, though I didn't put it up for critique. Gerri is such a wonderful instructor, and loved by many. We have a fabulous group of people taking the class, including Myrna Wacknov, so it's really neat to see the art they produce. It's also like old home week for my France trip in 2007 with Mike Bailey -- Myrna, Carrie, and Lisa are all in the workshop! We ended the day tearing pieces of rice paper, staining them with various shades of a couple colors, and allowing them to dry overnight. Tomorrow we begin the collage process.
Yesterday's demo went well, the first I've coordinated. The room was full, probably 75 to 100 observers. Gerri said he couldn't demonstrate collage on the spot and what we would do in class were small pieces. So I brought him a full sheet of Arches 140 lb. paper and a support so he could demo his design and painting process. Like all masters, he made it look so easy, and the crowd loved it. Gerri gives you permission to do anything in art -- no, a watercolor must not all be transparent; yes, you can use opaque white and colors; you can move things around; you can eliminate what you don't want and add something you do. You can do many variations from one simple sketch or photo.
I am learning the mechanics of being a coordinator, quite a bit of work as we provide a nice series of snack morning and afternoon during the workshop and for the demo on Sunday afternoon. So far, I've been to Costco twice, and the farm stand once. Then there are the various vagaries of the locks for kitchen, water supply, classroom, restrooms, and atrium. All is going smoothly and I am having fun. I have a terrific assistant, Irene, who has jumped right in on setup, cleanup, and ordering and picking up the instructors lunch.