Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 5 of Ted Nutall Workshop

"The Egg Lady"
11" x 14" Watercolor on Arches 300 lb. coldpress paper

The first layers of "Thoughtful"

Ted Nuttal, Artist and Musician

Our final workshop day was very special. Not only did we learn more, paint a bit, and have a critique session, but Ted also sang and played his guitar for us as we painted. Two for the price of one!

I loved some of the quotes that Ted provided in his slide shows. I especially relate to these:
Lucien Freud: "My work is purely autobiographical -- it is about myself and my surroundings."
Harold Osborne: "The real subject of every work of art is the artist himself."
Charles Reid: "Spontaneity is an illusion."

"The Egg Lady" at a farmer's market in the Perigord region in the Dordogne, France is from a photo I took of an elderly woman selling eggs and chickens in a farmer's market in 2007. I asked if I could photograph her -- somehow I am not a very good stealth photographer. She was lovely, said yes, and did not get stiff and pose. I added a few more layers to this painting, especially in the dress and the background. I want to work a bit more on the background, keeping it high key. I did that instinctively and Ted thought it suited the subject. I will also likely paint her again with greater patience and care.

The second piece has a first layer of paint and requires much more work. This is Photoshopped from a snapshot I took of Jamie and her mom sitting on my patio in July when they visited us from Vermont. There is even the clothesline with the wash we had hung out on a gorgeous sunny day.

The final photo shows Ted playing his guitar. It's fun though not real clear.

My takeaways for creating a transparent and glowing watercolor, especially suited for painting people:
Exercise patience
Create a strong design by cropping and removing some elements
Take time to make an accurate drawing
Stay transparent and use lots of water
Build the values in layers
Let the layers dry before painting over them
Develop very small areas and soften the edges
Use unexpected color
Develop the whole painting
Paint the skin into the hair
Pull the paint into the background
Pull the background into the shadow side of the hair

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 4 of Ted Nuttal Workshop

In process - "Baby Bob"

Another great day at the workshop. Ted talked about design and we dissected what works in some paintings by accomplished artists. Ted likes to float his art on mat board, so he showed us how to tear the paper to achieve a deckle edge similar to the one that results from the manufacturing process when the painting will be less than a full sheet.

In the afternoon, we continued to paint. I was waiting to consult with Ted on my paintings, so I continued work on "The Egg Lady." I am finally beginning to be a bit more comfortable with Ted's layered approach and am learning to keep things light. I also began work on "Thoughtful," a painting of granddaughter Jamie.

This weekend I will do a final post after completing the workshop tomorrow. Ted leaves us to fly to NYC to judge the American Watercolor Society show. This evening, about half the class and a few guests hosted Ted for dinner at an Italian restaurant. We had a lovely time. Ted told us he will do 21 workshops this year, quite a gruelling schedule.

This piece actually looks better than the photo with its harsh transitions. Ted suggested one more layer of transparent paint on the background. So far, the first layer was a pale peach mixed from cad red light and raw sienna, and the second layer raw sienna. Ted wants me to try layering a light wash of cad yellow -- he likes the contrasting light colors. He likes the shadows on Baby Bob's romper (how old fashioned is that term?) I actually got to see this very romper the only time I got to meet Bob's parents shortly before they passed away. His Mom had kept it all these years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 3 of Ted Nuttal Workshop

"Bertina on Her Wedding Day"
11" x 14" transparent watercolor

I'm thoroughly enjoying Ted's approach to teaching the workshop. We begin the day at 9 a.m. with Ted setting the tone for the day and giving a slide show. This morning he talked about several artists. Ted's approach to shadows is to darken them with the same color, and he uses warm colors in the shadows. He does, however, tone the darks down at a certain point. He does that using a very thin layer of ultramarine blue. The result is a very lively painting.

I continued to work on my two pieces. I added soft colors into Bertina's cream dress and tried to use "sloppy dots" as Ted describes the bits of broken color he uses in his paintings. I also did a variegated background layer. Ted suggested I finish by enhancing her nose and mouth and adding a thin layer of ultramarine blue over the background and the shadow side of her hair. I was not happy with my application of the final layer of paint, but I am calling this done. I kept fighting with the 140 lb. Fabriano Hot Press. I do like the 300 lb. Arches better. Sometime I would like to paint Bertina again, after I have had time to become more comfortable with the new techniques.

Baby Bob needs a bit more work, but I want to consult the master. I also started painting an old woman who sold eggs and chickens at an open air market in the Dordogne section of France. Tonight I drew my granddaughter Jamie in preparation for another piece.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 2 of Ted Nutttal Workshop

Day 2 of "Bertina on Her Wedding Day"

Today Ted did a great slide show to discuss ways to paint features and body part -- eyes, noses, mouths, and hands. Then he demoed how to begin doing the background. He does many transparent layers.

When I left off on Bertina, I had knocked back the white background with watered down ivory. Today I added some detail on the dress, and did two layers in the background -- first I laid in a thin layer of Cerulean Blue. Later Ted suggested that I do the next layer in it's complement, orange, that had been grayed down a bit. There will be at least one more layer of cerulean blue, and perhaps more. I also need to darken her hair on the left side. Some of you commented on Bertina as a free spirit. She truly was. Bob always says his grandmother stopped hitchhiking in her 70's when she got in a car and the driver with long hair had a deep male voice. I never had the pleasure of knowing her.

Ted keeps advising patience and not putting paint on the paper unless we know what we want to do. Seems simple, and it's not. With layers, you need to allow each layer to dry thoroughly. So I decided to start my second piece, Baby Bob, so I could await my turn for feedback from Ted. I've done this family photo before in Myrna Wacknov's workshop. This one is different and I made a lot of progress.

Jeannie and I were surprised and pleased when Ted told us to pick out a giclee print as a thank you for coordinating the workshop. Go here to see the painting I selected. I was surprised when I got to the workshop and saw that Ted had painted a woman from the same era as Bertina. The artists are always very nice to us and some are downright generous. This is the second painting I've received. The first was a full-sheet demo painting that Gerald Brommer did on a piece of paper I had provided. It was complete with the exception of adding a few darks -- Gerry jokingly suggested I finish it, but I treasure it as is.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ted Nuttal Workshop

Day 1: I begin "Bertina on Her Wedding Day"

Ted demos his approach to painting people.

Family photo source for Bertina

Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society sponsors some of the best and least expensive workshops in the country. We are an all vounteer group, so we deliver workshops for the price of covering the cost of the workshop with a minimum enrollment of 15. This week we are featuring Ted Nuttal, a well-known figure artist. I am assisting the coordinator, which means I am pretty busy opening and closing the facility, keeping the hospitality table going, fetching the instructor's lunch, and caring for participants.
Ted does some beautiful work and looking at it, you see what we often describe as looseness, so we all assume that Ted dashes off these pieces in short order. Not true at all. Ted paints in thin transparent layers, building his final piece slowly. Each stroke is carefully placed with a single touch of the brush. His work is known for what he lovingly calls "sloppy dots." Check out Ted's gallery to become familiar with his work. The class has people from as far away as Michigan and Massachusetts. At least three of our SCVWS attendees are award-winning artists, and Chris Beck has been frequently featured in art magazines. I always enjoy working with such good artists and seeing how they approach the workshop.
I am using a family portrait from about a hundred years ago when Bob's father's parents were married. Bertina left her husband 10 years later at a time when divorce was uncommon, saying if she didn't find anyone better, she might be back. Her husband went on to find a lovely woman whom he married and they celebrated their 60th anniversary before she passed away. Bertina never remarried. Bob's dad and his brother spent time with each of their parents and Bertina was involved with the grandchildren. I find it difficult to fathom Bertina's thoughts in the picture. In those days, people did not say "Cheese."
This afternoon I began the painting and Ted was happy with my progress. He especially liked what I did on her neck. This is the first layer. There will be many more. I laid in a colorful wash, then I began to focus on parts of the picture. Ted worked on eyes, then he might move to the base of the nose, followed by work on the mouth. At the end of the day he demoed how he builds layers. Ted works on small sections using high water to pigment ratio and softening edges. It's important to let each layer dry thoroughly before applying the next. The results are wonderful.
We had a little excitement when the school to which our facility is attached announced a lockdown because a man with a gun had reportedly been seen in the general area. Later we were given the all clear. I heard second hand that the police determined the report was erroneous. At the Salminen demo a few weeks ago an attendee passed out and we had to call emergency. Being on the workshop committee provides some interesting moments. We are up to it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Visiting the City by the Bay and Preping for a Workshop

"The City by the Bay"
Micron Pen on paper

"Beach Blanket Babylon Hat"
Micron Pen on Paper

"A Room with a View: From Parc 55 Hotel"
Watercolor and ink on sketch paper

For Christmas, Bob gave me a trip to the city to see Beach Blanket Babylon, a unique San Francisco experience. This hilarious musical revue is known for it's big hair and hats and political spoofs. The grand finale always includes the hat with San Francisco landmarks, including a cable car that runs up the hill and a TransAmerica Building that lifts to reveal "World Series Champions". We went to city Wednesday by Caltrain and used public transit as we always do. We had a lovely dinner in Italian North Beach. To return to our hotel we hoofed it up a major hill on Green Street to Powell and rode the cable car to the terminus near our hotel. It was about 10:00 in evening and here we were sitting on the open bench along the front right side with the warm evening air blowing in our hair. I had all I could do not to slide down the seat on the steep descents. The city is magical.

Now I am getting ready to assist in coordinating the Ted Nuttal figure workshop beginning tomorrow with a demo and 5 days of painting with a master. He told us to have all our pieces drawn ahead of time so we can spend our time painting. He prefers Arches 300 lb. hot press, and the closest I can come is some Fabriano 140 lb. hot press. None of the art stores in town have any. I will buy a piece from a friend and order online. I had a hard time finding subject matter as I don't create ideal photographs of people. I came up with an ancient wedding photo of Bob's grandmother from the early 1900s, a wonderful picture of granddaughter Jamie "social networking" on my patio, Bob and granddaughter Kelly playing the flute, and an old women in a market in France from my 2007 visit. Still trying to come up with few more. I managed to get 4 drawn on tracing paper and 2 transferred. I'm waiting to get my 300 lb. paper from Jeanne for a few of them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Winter on the California Coast

"Misty Christmas on the California Coast"
Andrew Molera State Park
15" x 18"

Continuing the theme of winter, here is another painting inspired by Christmases spent in the Big Sur area 0n the California Coast. That year we hiked in Andrew Molera State Park to the sea along Big Sur River. I loved this simple scene of evergreens backing dried grasses along the trail. You can see another view of the park that includes the river in an earlier post.

I started and completed this painting during my Thursday night art group. Our numbers were decimated by winter colds, so three of us joined together for a lovely evening of painting. I was hosting and searching at the last minute for art supplies and a subject. I grabbed a 300 pound Arches cold press paper, not my usual 140 pound paper, and a folder of photos of subject matter that emotionally connects with me. Thinking winter, I settled on this scene. I wet the entire sheet, did not sketch out the scene, and used a limited Stephen Quiller pallette, ala Tom Fong's Fast and Loose approach. For the trees, I used Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Orange, and Burnt Sienna. Latter I went back in and introduced a bit of green mixed from Thalo Blue and Cad Yellow Deep. I worked at adding variety in the values. The grasses are Permanent Orange, Cad Yellow Deep, Thalo Green, and Magenta. I scratched in some weeds and added Permanent Orange to some. I had fun doing some positive and negative painting. This morning at critique group, I got a thumbs up on this one without any suggestions for changes.

These California winter scenes are a marked contrast to ones I have painted of winters in North Danville, VT, where son Jeff's family has a small farm with horses. Recently I painted "Winter in the Garden" from a photo Jeff took a couple weeks ago. Having grown up in Vermont, I could feel the cold, crisp air and the bright sunshine in late afternoon. To give you another view of that garden, here is a photo Jeff sent a couple days ago of two of the three horses in the great snowstorm that covered a third of our nation.

"Photo by Jeff Paquet"

The horses' blankets are covered with the snow falling and the hillside behind the trees and garden is completely obscured. The water tub for the horses has a heater to keep it from freezing in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom where I have experienced -42 degrees.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

If it's Good Enough for Kandinsky....

"Let's Do Lunch"
30" x 22" watercolor, 2006

"Sea Battle"
Wassily Kandinsky

Kathy Cartwright, author of one of Donna Zagotta's blogs to watch this year, has an interesting discussion of Kandinsky's book, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art." So I thought it would be fun to resurrect an old painting from 2006 when I took Mike Bailey's class "Watercolor Beyond the Obvious" for the first time. In the course of the class on design, we used the same subject matter to explore the various elements of design in 20 full-sheet paintings. Midway through the course, Mike made an assignment of viewing the works by famous artists. I found that I especially liked Matisse, but I liked this painting by Kandinsky. Somehow I am missing the point, because I find the painting joyful, and let's face it, there is nothing joyful about war. That didn't stop me from doing my own joyful version on a more mundane topic. The still life elements are in there, including a bowl, a spatula, and others. Mike was tickled pink with this one and said, frame it!

This painting sold in 2009 at my Open Studio.