Every time I sign up for a painting workshop I go through a phase of being excited about learning new aspects of watercolour (generally). On the day, the tutor seems to create magical images on the paper with just a few sweeps of the brush and it all looks so easy – until I pick up my brush to start working on the assigned image. That’s when I reach the next phase of emotion – frustration with the fact that the work on my page isn’t capturing the scene that way it should. I have the urge to hide my somewhat sad efforts under my pile of paper.
Then I reach the third stage – the one where other artists in the workshop are also bemoaning the shortcomings of their efforts. And I remember why we’re all here. We’re here to learn. It’s all about developing as an artist. Every artist works slightly differently. They use different paints, different brushes and different papers. Over the years, they have developed techniques that work for them – their own style of working. And therein lies the value of workshops.
Workshops often feel really uncomfortable because we’re in a group, painting a scene we might not have chosen, in a style that is new to us, trying to master brushstrokes and elements of composition we’ve not done before, with a limited amount of time. But that’s all part of stretching ourselves – and that’s often where the fun lies in painting.
In an ideal world, we’d all have a couple of days to try, and try again. Repetition is the key to mastery. That’s not always possible. So we bring home practice pieces and a work-in-progress to remind us. Here’s my effort from today’s Society of East Anglian Watercolourists landscape workshop with Roger Jones.
Roger gave us an enormous amount of information during the day. His demonstrations were inspiring and it was great to have the time to ask him questions about the way he works. The paper he gave us all to use (Bockingford 200lb or Arches 200lb) was lovely to work on. It’s thicker than the paper I’m used to and I’ll definitely scale up to a heavier paper when I buy my next batch.
My thoughts on my work for the day: I think I’ll paint this again to practice the techniques we learned. This is an unfinished piece which doesn’t have any of the finishing touches I would normally put into a painting. But its a great reminder of the day’s lessons.