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!

4 comments:

AutumnLeaves said...

Mary, so interesting to read and see the in-process pieces that both of you are working on. The varied colors already in place in the skin tones leave me awed. I can't wait to see what happens next! As far as Bertina goes, it sounds as though she never found anyone better but apparently your husband's grandpa did! Rather poetic justice, eh? LOL

PAMO said...

What a free spirit Bertina was! I can see why you want to paint her. Ted Nuttal must be a strong teacher and it sounds like you are learning tons from his technique.
I envy the artists in your area-- they get to attend workshops developed by you and all the other competent committee members.

hw (hallie) farber said...

You selected a great photo, Mary, and the painting is looking very interesting--a woman with a mind of her own. Thanks for pointing us to Ted's Gallery.

Mary Paquet said...

Sherry, thanks - the varied skin tones are built in sections in layers. Grandpa did find a wonderful wife and I suspect Bertina never really wanted to go back.

Pam, she was a free spirit. Ted is a great teacher. We are very lucky to have this society that engages the the best workshop instructors.

Hallie, I loved this wedding picture, originally framed in a large oval frame with domed glass. Ted's got me thinking about other old family photos. I am amazed at the will Bertina must have had.