My most recent 2-full day workshop was in beautiful southern Indiana – Brown County Art Gallery, Nashville, IN. Abstract Paintings of Nature in Watercolor was finally a go – because of COVID19, this workshop had been rescheduled! But things started to come back to some form of normal and Jeanne Bennett, Gallery Manager, and I were bound and determined to have it happen. Last years' workshop was so enjoyable I wanted to build on it.
As you can figure all of my events had been canceled earlier this year. Marilee and I were incredibly organized this year with scheduling teaching, workshops, shows, and demos This was the weirdest thing to see it vaporize before our very eyes.
WELCOME TO THE "LITTLE SMOKY MOUNTAINS"
Brown County, IN is a mecca for artists. Known as the Little Smoky Mountains Indiana's beautiful artistic hill country, The drive into Nashville never ceases to amaze me. According to WGN 9 TV in Chicago, Brown County has more artists per capita than anywhere else in the Midwest. Once you visit this area its easy to understand why artists are drawn to its beauty. The rolling hills, lush forests, and winding roads along with picturesque cottages make for a perfect canvas.
HISTORIC BROWN COUNTY ART GALLERY
Here's a little history about the historic Brown County Art Gallery. The gallery has a rich background. The gallery was established in 1926 by the early members of an important regional art colony who began exploring rural southern Indiana in the 1890s. These early artists had been trained in the best art schools of Europe and America and were attracted to the rolling hills of Brown County because it offered both dramatic landscapes and interesting people to serve as subjects for their work.
In 1926, they formed the Brown County Art Gallery Artists Association, which I am a member of and set up a gallery in a former grocery store donated by a patron. For over eight decades, the Gallery has managed to survive wars, depressions, recessions, fire, and relocation, making it one of the oldest galleries in the United States.
The Brown County Art Gallery Foundation has 400 paintings and artifacts in its Permanent Collection. When the Gallery was founded by the early artists in 1926, many of the artists donated paintings and other items to the Gallery to create an ongoing exhibit. And 90 years later, the Brown County Art Gallery is still exhibiting the work of the early Indiana artists.
The gallery's Permanent Collection has continued to expand with generous gifts from donors. A rotating exhibit of the early paintings, along with a number of fascinating historical displays are on display in the Permanent Collection Gallery on a daily basis.
Besides demonstrating the beauty of watercolor I shared my thoughts about materials and the importance of buying the best products you can afford.
I gave a squirt or two of my QoR modern watercolor paint colors to my workshop students who needed them. I also handed out QoR color charts supplied by my friend Valerie Allen, Lecturer and Workshop Leader for the Certified Working Artists Program at Golden Artist Colors. I wanted them to experience the thrill I have when painting a watercolor painting with QoR paints. I can't stress enough the importance of using professional-grade watercolors and what a huge difference it will make during your painting experience.
Here's a few reasons why I like them:
In addition, the same goes for watercolor paper. Only buy 100% cotton. You are asking for trouble if you buy a cheaper grade that contains wood fibers. The paper will pill when you scrub it. I personally love Indigo 300# cold press handmade watercolor paper. I also enjoy painting on Arches 300# cold press watercolor paper. In fact I supplied each student with two-quarter sheets of Arches.
My third must-have is real hair brushes if you can afford them. Otherwise a blend of synthetic/real hair. If you take care of them you will keep them for a long time. The real hair loads a lot of paint and doesn't wear out like synthetic. My 1" 202 Morrilla is over 40 years old. Unfortunately, it's not made anymore but you may find a used one on eBay. I got a three brush set last year made by MEEDEN, Cat's Tongue Shape Paint Brushes-3 Piece Set for Watercolors At that time when I purchased them they said they were made with sable. Later in the year they said they were made of squirrel. Today it reads horse but at this time like so many other things made in China they are out of stock. I haven't tested the horse hair brush to see how they load and flow onto the paper. if you want to try these reasonable priced brush set CLICK HERE. Remember they are currently out of stock.
Okay who hasn't done this with art supplies or something else like hair spray instead of deodorant? Well, I sure have more times than I can count. One of my students came in with her supplies I recommended for the workshop. She laid out her colors and started to paint but one of the colors didn't mix very well. I mean it wouldn't mix at all like it was oil paint. OH! It was oil paint. It had been misplaced at the store and unfortunately she grab it. Lesson learned to always check the label.
If you would like to see my full supply recommendations and list CLICK HERE.
MY TEACHING STYLE
I have a selection of my own personal photos that I gather for a specific workshop. I handout 4"x6" prints of the subject matter to the students. I normally select the reference material because I want to teach specific techniques plus my workshops consist of paint-alongs.
I like instructing as a paint-along because it gives the student bitesize amounts of information. Then they go back and recreate my techniques.
Depending on the complexity of the reference there could be 3-7 steps in my paint-along. Here's my methodology:
I also encourage my students to take notes, photos, and videos if they wish. I share so much information that it's hard to retain it all. I also encourage them to recreate the watercolor painting at home and send it to me for a critique.
,MASKS ON, SOCIALLY DISTANCED IN PLACE, SLEEVES PUSHED UP TO WORK, LEARN, AND HAVE FUN!
DAY 1: MORNING: I started demonstrating right away working from my iPad.
I begin with a limited pencil drawing on the paper. With this 6-color, full palette snow scene I talked about temperature value, color, and intensities of their paintings. The morning painting was a snow scene of the beginning of the Wisconsin River (Land O' Lakes, WI) which has been one of my favorite sites to paint, whether it's spring, summer, fall, or winter. The levels of water change as does the foliage, colors, textures, and the influence of light. I call this river home. In this exercise, I wanted to teach how to handle snow and paint anything white. evaluate temperature and not copy the photo.
I gave them an oversight on atmospheric perspective so they could create a good depth of field. We finish this painting in three steps as a paint-along. Through my years as a professional teaching of watercolor painter, I have found this technique works well with the student. They go through the process which helps the student retain what was created.
DAY 1: AFTERNOON: After we returned from lunch my afternoon demo was a fall scene full of autumnal colors – limited 5-color palette. I wanted my students learned the spontaneity of minimal drawing – just the road and the tree and following the light and dark patterns. One of my students suggested a a cozy cottage in the composition and wanted to get my thoughts. I said it was a great idea and added it to this pleasant composition. See changes can be made while painting, but first think it through.
Two paintings completed and so proud of everyone’s first day of work.
DAY 2: MORNING: The morning painting was of a cabin tucked into the woods. This painting was a limited palette of 5-colors – remember 6-colors is a full palette. In this demonstration I wanted to share my techniques regarding how to keep your edges as soft as you can while painting a highly textured background. This allowed the cabin to emerge from the wooded background.
DAY 2: AFTERNOON: The afternoon I demoed a 5-color limited palette painting was a freeform swamp scene. In this exercise I wanted the students to painting without a drawing.
I started with my usual block in method by painting from background to foreground and large areas to small. I washed in the cool gray down colors in the background working forward two more intense and darker color.
Painting the large shapes and values. to form the finished picture adjustment of the values and shapes. Working smaller values with details. When everything was in place and the painting was dry I began placing the masses of trees. To finish up I added details to the trees and a few accents of color.
One of my students suggested a unicorn in this "Lord of the Rings" looking painting. As you can see the unicorn slipped away before I could add him. ;))
During these two days of instruction, I shared my knowledge with my students on a multitude of things including composition, focal points and how to keep the eye moving.
We covered fall, winter, spring and summer scenes and how to handle the temperature changes through the seasons. This gave the watercolor paintings a more pleasant, authentic look. All the demonstrations were done with limited pencil work and the majority of drawing was formed with the brush.
People ask me why I like smaller classes and workshops. Well, having a small class or what I like to call mentoring workshops gives me an opportunity to focus on each individual student. Working with the student for one, two or four days allows me to gather the exact insight on each student's individual needs in a concentrated manner. I enjoy teaching to truly see, overcome fears and find joy in painting. We all had a good time learned a lot and experimented a lot.
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Dale L Popovich IWS
is an award-winning watercolorist and teacher who is passionate about capturing the raw beauty of the American landscape with the fluid stroke of a brush. As you will see the works selected in his portfolio represent the breath of his holistic approach to painting. You can also learn along with this talented and experienced teacher through his workshops,