Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Frank Webb Workshop Days 3 and 4: Painting Patches and Drizzling Paint

"Memories of Ghost Ranch"
15" x 22"

Frank Webb's demo: Mixing Color on the paper
Sugar House
Arlington, VT

Frank has demoed a unique approach to watercolor each day. Let's start with Day 4, as I felt more successful. Frank calls this drizzling paint on the paper. He told us to bring a table easel or he would show us how to use a folding chair. I like an easel and have had one at the workshop all week. We would be placing our paper at a 60 to 70 degree angle. I usually work on an angle, usually about 45 degrees.

Frank first laid the board flat and put on a cool blue wash, making sure it was plenty wet and painting around his whites. Then he placed the board on the easel and brushed on other colors. At this point he dried the underpainting so he could continue. From there he worked on various sections, mixing the colors on his paper, not on the pallete. I could especially relate to this painting as I grew up in Vermont and I'm familiar with Arlington, the long-time home of Norman Rockwell who painted his neighbors.

I am still feeling inspired by my visit to New Mexico in the past few weeks, so I referenced several photos and created a design. The cliffs are reminiscent of Ghost Ranch and Georgia O'Keefe, as is the dead Pinon tree in the foreground. I totally made up the pueblo-style home, and made vegetation in keeping with that desert area. I then met with Frank to review my 4" x 6" sketch with value patterns. He made a few suggestions in which I enlarged the house to get better overlap with the trees. I had envisioned the cliffs at a distance from the house, but Frank said cliffs rising right behind the building would be much more effective. I am so impressed how each day he meets personally with each of us to discuss our design.

Frank emphasizes saving our whites, but I felt the cliff was too large a blank to leave totally white, so I modeled it in very light washes to suggest white. I worried that Frank might say I had committed a venial sin, but he totally liked this painting and deemed it very successful. He noted my whites in the cliff and the left side of the house. I felt like I had gotten an A for the day.

'Taos Pueblo, New Mexico"
15" x 22"

Frank Webb's demo painting: Patches of color
Spanish church south of Phoenix, AZ

The demo on Day 3 emphasized painting patches of color. Frank said this is a real good exercise for learning to keep the values the same using multiple colors. He talked about warm and cool colors as he did his demo. What strikes me about his painting is how fresh and painterly it appears. The key is to lay the colors down and gently blend them by touching the edge of the previous color.

I decided to work up a design using photos I took in 2008 while visiting the Taos Pueblo, one of the most intact pueblos in the US. However, I had none in the configuration or the orientation I wanted. The wall is an entry to the Catholic Church in the pueblo, and I wanted it in the foregrounds. So I managed to draw pueblo buildings and the wall at angles so I could play up the light and shadow areas.

Frank did not mention any errors, but I know that I did not achieve the same degree of freshness as he did because I put my brush back into some of the patches. Paint to water ratio is key to success. I like the composition and want to try it in a Day 4 or a Day 1 (layers with mother color) technique. Perhaps I'll even do patches again. Patches was an excellent exercise on values.


Charlene Brown said...

I've been to workshops with this sort of detailed technique content -- but haven't gotten nearly as much out of them as you have. Your descriptions of the processes and feedback are going to have everyone wanting to take a Frank Webb class! And your paintings are turning out beautifully.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary,
Thank you for the interesting summary of your workshop with Frank Webb. Your paintings are festive and well done. Go Mary!

Marie Theron said...

Oh, how I wish I could paint like that! Thank you for sharing with us, Mary.

hwfarber said...

Your Taos Pueblo jumps off the page. Beautiful.

Mary Paquet said...

Charlene, Frank Webb loves to teach is so wonderful. He speaks of design, and I he put actions to words, which will help me remember some elements of design that I easily forget.

Peggy, thanks. I like festive. Having just been to New Mexico, I was inspired to paint these subjects.

Marie, thanks for checking in. You paint like you, which is wonderful!

Hallie, thanks for the encouragement on the Taos Pueblo picture. Painting patches of color is an interesting challenge. Really good for separating value from color.

Margaret Bednar said...

The Taos Pueblo totally mesmerized me. I was sure it was the teacher's. It seems quite fresh and alive to me.

Mary Paquet said...

Margaret, I have to take a fresh look at this one. Sometimes I think we can't see it after working on it. Good to put it away a bit. Thanks for the compliment.