Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frank Webb Workshop: Day 5: The Calligraphic Mark

"Dining Italian Style"
11" x 14"
Watercolor
"Life above the Elevated"
11" x 14"
Watercolor

Calligraphic marks in watercolor was the painting approach of the day. I will probably use this approach rarely, but I have used it before on sketches. Here is Frank's demo. He first did wet-in-wet washes, leaving his white area alone. Of course the paint diffuses and mixes quickly, so he used a hair dryer to stop the flow and dry the paper for the next step. Using various flats and rounds he applied the calligraphic marks. He says it's important to leave open areas and not close off structures entirely. His finished painting is playful.

Frank Webb's harbor scene


I met with Frank and showed him the sketch I did from our room in Chicago looking down on a small section of the elevated train amidst the buildings in the area of the Loop. He liked the painting, made some suggestions on the design for varying the shapes and marks. I wasn't too happy with this painting. I felt I put in too many marks, and Frank suggested that fewer on the buildings would be better. He also noted that my design had more variation in the size of the buildings; my painting has buildings of similar widths.

I had about 40 minutes until until critique and I wasn't happy with my cityscape, so I grabbed a black and white printout of a street in Portovenere, Italy. Of course, after 5 days of learning how important design is, I skipped that step because painting is more fun, and besides everyone was going to see whatever I painted during critique. The upshot is I went oh oh, I almost forgot to preserve some whites and of course, the best place would have been on the awnings. Frank loved the calligraphic marks, but noted that my white "felony" could be reduced to the lesser degree of a misdemeanor by shading a bit of the right corner. Also, surrounding the right canopy with greenery (which it was in the photo) is bad design. I should have left a break in the greenery. Of course, nature doesn't make good designs, artists do.

I intend to make myself a little checklist for reviewing my designs -- variation and overlapping shapes are especially important for me to remember.

Also, I made notes of many art quotes that Frank gave us throughout the five days.
"Art is man-made order."
"We restore the disunity of nature to unity."
"Art is pleasure objectified." (George Santiano)
"We are shape improvers."
"Beauty is the quality that emerges from the deliberate relationship of the parts to the whole."

He shared much more wisdom with us that I didn't capture even though I am a prolific note-taker, as you can tell. I learn through writing, even if I never look at my notes again.

Frank again commented that this was the best organized workshop he has ever done. The Society has many years of workshop experience and those of us who worked on this one have inherited the wisdom and processes.

5 comments:

Margaret Bednar said...

The Italian painting is exciting! You did leave white at the bottom of the page and I can see where continuing a bit of the white through the greenery would help the eye travel. But otherwise... I think you should do this calligraphy style painting - you are good at it. It caught my eye on my side bar and I HAD to check it out. Glad I did!

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, I like the Italian painting. In one of Rex Brandt's books on Watercolor landscape, he did some pieces using this technique. They are wonderful. And, I've seen pictures of Frank Webb's work when he uses this technique. Also, wonderful and festive. I took Frank Webb's three day course a few years ago. I like what you've done in the five day course. You get so much more! Thanks for sharing Mary. Wonderful.

Barbra Joan said...

You know I've said it before Mary, the reason your such an exciting painter is that you are willing to try it all... It becomes a learning experience and that makes for such a well rounded artist.
and you certainly are that.!

Mary Paquet said...

Margaret, thanks so much! You give me incentive to try again.

Peggy, Frank is a wonderful teacher because he loves to teach. I felt I really learned a lot and will apply the knowledge to future work.

Barbra Joan, experimenting gives lots of zest to life.

Joe's blog said...

The second one is thrilling. I like the colors and the energy in it. Great work!