Eugen Chisnicean’s Watercolour Workshop

Eugen Chisnicean’s first UK watercolour workshop took place on the weekend after Easter. Attending artists had three days of fantastic attention from a very patient and accomplished teacher.

All of the artists on the workshop were experienced watercolourists, and all were pushed (willingly) out of their comfort zones at some point during this watercolour workshop. We all realised how easy it is to get stuck in the ‘easy’ groove of doing what comes comfortably. Sometimes its really valuable to examine our methods of working to see whether we are still true to the rigour of theory and principle.

watercolour workshop - painting on The Lawn in Whittlesford
Eugen Chisnicean – preparation for plein air painting.

The weather wasn’t perfect for a plein air watercolour workshop session, but we braved the breeze and dodged the rainclouds to spend the first afternoon painting on The Lawn.

There’s always a level of discomfort at the idea of people coming over to watch what you’re doing. Every one of us acknowledged that we know we should do more plein air painting. Somehow doing it as a workshop group made it feel a bit easier than going it alone. It was also fascinating to see how a view we wouldn’t normally see as a painting can provide inspiration for a solid composition.

 

“…has dispelled some of my trepidation at working ‘plein-air’. It was also useful to attempt subjects I wouldn’t normally consider.”

watercolour workshop with Eugen Chisnicean. Demonstration painting
Demonstration painting by Eugen Chisnicean. Whittlesford Lawn

Eugen Chisnicean’s UK Watercolour Workshop – reactions

Rather than writing more about the workshop myself, I’ll share some of the words emailed to me by the artists who attended:

“I loved watching a master at work. He was very generous with his tips & already I find I am going through the check list before starting a painting.”

Palette envy. I definitely want one like this.
Palette envy. I definitely want one like this.

“Eugen’s workshop was great fun. I particularly liked the mix of theory and practice, and the way Eugen combined them in his demonstrations. The tasks he set us were challenging – but that’s as it should be – and ensured that we didn’t remain too embedded in our cosy comfort zones. As a result I already feel that I have a much better understanding of what I’m trying to achieve, and am looking forward to seeing the benefits in my future work.”

Preparation is key. A reminder to put in the ground work before going to work on the final piece.
Preparation is key. Eugen reminds us to put in the ground work before going to work on the final piece.

And a last few words:

The three days that I was there, I can not pretend that I was not struggling. I could not understand why I was finding it so difficult, as I am usually quietly confident in how I haphazardly paint in watercolour.

Each evening, I would get back home and was eagerly questioned by my family on how I was getting on with the painting course.I could only reply, that I had never experienced so many difficulties in putting my pencil and brush to paper!

The answer was simple really. I was not just attending an art workshop, I was attending a MASTERCLASS art workshop!

I so appreciated the time he gave to us, showing us simple ways that would improve our watercolour techniques (and his patience when I could not get it!) and the demonstrations were truely amazing! How he transformed an ordinary landscape scene outside the memorial hall into a masterpiece…. was outstanding!

I learnt so much and not just that, Eugen in his quiet manner taught me not to be afraid of my own weaknesses(I have been so afraid of the easel, but now I have finally bought one, which I am surprisingly, using all the time! )

A true Master ,Eugen, Thank you so much for all your help”.

As for me: my brain was stretched by three days of intensive working with Eugen. And hosting the workshop meant I had a wonderful opportunity to go on an exhibition visiting day to London with Eugen. We stopped in at The Mall Galleries to see the RI Watercolour exhibition, went to the National Gallery to look at some works of the masters, and finally, had the enormous pleasure of discovering by chance that the National Portrait Gallery had an exhibition of Sargent’s portraits (the highlight of the day).

And I managed a painting I felt quietly pleased with in the course of the workshop. Onward and upward. Loads still to learn and loving the process.

VMW092 - Summer Day in France blog

Flow

And then I did a proper grown up painting on Day 2 of the workshop.

Flow (acrylic painting 40 x 50cm)
Flow (acrylic 40 x 50cm)

I’m rather pleased with the way this turned out. The planning and execution all went the way it was meant to.
Acrylics are definitely firmly on the agenda.

Deep roots

Deep roots (watercolour sketch)
Deep roots (watercolour sketch)

The RI exhibition’s theme for this year’s exhibition is Trees and Landscapes. The society chose this theme to cast a light on the plight of the UK’s shrinking woodlands and tree species under threat.

I had some studio time late last night and sat down to play with colour to get my painting  mojo starting flow before the weekend’s painting time. This little abstract emerged while I was thinking about trees. Somehow the concept of deep roots appeared on the page.  I’ll be putting this on the wall to remind me to explore the idea further later.

So many ideas – so few hours in every day.

On a different subject, yesterday David suggested he introduce me to Catherine de Ryck who is one of the organisers of the International Watercolour Biennial in Belgium. Unfortunately, time ran out and I had to leave to catch my train back to Cambridge. By coincidence I came across Catherine on Facebook today and we connected.  I had one of those big smile moment when she said in her comment, “I already know your blog”.  [Waves to Catherine]

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