Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tom Fong Workshop: Day 3 of "Watercolor Bold and Spontaneous"

"High on a Hill ... in San Francisco"
15" x 20 "

Instructor Tom Fong's Partially Complete Demo
Coit Tower, San Francisco

First, apologies for somewhat crooked photos of the paintings -- best can do with my primative process. My piece is also missing about an inch on the right side. I failed to get a photo of Tom's finished cityscape.

On the final day of Tom's workshop, I was especially busy and we finished early so our wonderful volunteer setup and takedown crew can do their job at the Historic Hoover Theater where we rent space. I was busy with the assistant coordinator duties, which include ordering and fetching lunch for the instructor and some attendees, setting out the hospitality table items for morning and afternoon, cleanup, and fulfilling Tom's request to set up a raffle for end of day. I got to mostly complete one painting. Most folks did two.

Tom is very good about asking for feedback each day and inviting requests. Some of his work is city scenes, so we asked him to do one. They are more time consuming, because they require some drawing. Tom used a light grey paint to draw the Coit tower scene with his No. 8 round brush on dry paper. Using a stock photo, he created his own impression of the city. The buildings are neither duplicates nor as dense as in the photo. They are representative of the block shapes so common in San Francisco. Even Coit Tower was modeled mostly from memory. He began applying paint, starting with yellow, to selected buildings. He wet the paper as needed. Notice how Tom lets the paint flow across lines and below buildings. He then came in with darks, creating the Cypress trees around the tower and interspersing darks with lights. Some of the landscape is suggested with bold brush strokes of color that he repeatedly modifies. The finished piece included shadows on the buildings, and paint on the Bay and in the sky area. Tom left some white in both. Tom's work shows the influence of his friend, Henry Fukuhara, a wonderful artist who died this year at 96 , painting to the end in spite of losing his sight. Use Google to check out images of Henry's work.

We were in San Francisco on Wednesday with my son's family, showing my teenage granddaughters this lovely city, so the sights, shapes, and colors of the city were fresh in my mind. I selected a photo of the skyline that includes the Transamerica Building (the pyramid shape). I made up the curvy downhill street and following Tom's example, created shapes in the foreground. You can see my grey drawing lines. The piece was sopping wet and incomplete at critique time. Tom said the painting is successful. His suggestions included adding shadows and not to represent every window on the buildings, which I very well know and forget when I get caught up in the process. This morning, I put in the shadows and softened some edges, and some windows. This is a very fun way to do city scenes and I will do more.

On the first day Tom also demoed doing florals in his loose and wet approach, which I didn't get time to tackle. That will be next, and then I will show you his demo and my results. I want to make some of my knowledge more intuitive (I believe intuition has a lot of learning and experience behind it). While painting I must remember to keep some white passages if I deem them appropriate, to lead the eye through the painting, and alternate lights and darks. Of course, the darks make parts of the painting really pop, so I can't be timid.

Tom is very generous and stated that he's been fortunate and does not worry about making a living from his art. He raffled off two nice brushes, three sets of paint, and his first demo painting, a real treasure for the winner.


Barbra Joan said...

Oh Mary, I love your watercolor, you did so well with this workshop.. I especially liked all of this as the Transamerica building is still fresh in my mind from when I lived out there... Your instructor is fabulous,I love the idea of drawing in with the gray paint.. I'll have to try it.. Keep up your good work..

AutumnLeaves said...

Mary, I think your piece is amazingly well done! I find myself wishing Tom had not left so much white! LOL Thank you, friend, for sharing your story with me and helping me to realize what really is important.

Gary Keimig said...

You are doing just fine, Mary. Great job.
Thanks for the comment on my art blog. In answer to your question, I start [occassionaly]with acrylic just to use as an underpainting and to cover the canvas. It dries fast and I can get right into my oil detail. I simply call the paintings Oils as the acrylic is completely covered.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary, It sounds like you had an exciting workshop! I liked Henry Fukuhara's work. It's interesting to leave so much white. I like the interplay of line and intuitive, organic shapes. AND I like your work. Great for workshop work! Thanks for writing about the workshop.

Mary Paquet said...

Thanks, everyone. The picture I showed of Tom's work was incomplete, so there is more white showing at this stage than when he finished. Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of the final piece. He had color in the sky and water and left some of the buildings white.

If you want to learn more about another interesting workshop, check out Myrna Wacknov's blog. Right now she is attending a collage workshop with Gerry Brommer. I coordinated his workshop for SCVWS last August and he is just a delight; in his 80s, and still teaching upwards of 20 workshops a year! He's an awesome instructor.

hwfarber said...

You are doing some interesting things, Mary--and doing them well. There is a lot to remember when painting--lights, darks, paths, etc. I usually think of these things after I've finished a painting.

Mary Paquet said...

Hallie, you are so right. I want these things to become a part of what I think of when I'm designing and painting!

Anonymous said...

It's good to do courses with artists who have differing styles. One learns a lot. Can't wait to see the loose florals. That is something I have tried without success. Your cityscape is lovely.