Dillman’s Artist Workshop Retreat Four-Day Workshop The Disneyland For Passionate Fine Artists In The Great Northwoods Of Wisconsin
I recently had a four-day watercolor workshop at Dillman’s Bay Resort on White Sands Lake in Lac Du Flambeau, WI dillmans.com. The Great Northwoods and Dillman’s is a wonderful place to cultivate your artistic talents. I was honored to be invited to their creative community. This year there were 44 nationally know professional art teachers sharing their vast talents and knowledge.
On Sunday evening Dillman’s Artist Workshop Retreat kicked off the four workshops with a Welcome Reception or as I call it a meet-and-greet which consisted of wine and appetizers. This was a great time to connect with my students and other instructors. Dillman’s owners, Sue and Denny Robertson introduced all the instructors – I was in good company:
Each teacher came-up and introduce themselves talked about themselves and gave a general synopsis of their class and the procedure of how the workshop was gonna be conducted.
We finished the evening with a great catered dinner of salmon, roasted chicken, wild rice, roasted Brussel sprouts, and Caesar salad. This was followed by freshly brewed coffee and a selection of amazing desserts. Sue and Denny and their family Stephanie and Todd sure know how to through a party and make everyone feel right at home!
MORNING SESSION: NO PENCIL DRAWING EXERCISE
We pushed up our sleeves started working on a watercolor painting of a woodland scene that had strong light and dark patterns. It was a photo with pines and a slight haze in the background. I selected this exercise because nature is very forgiving. First, I told the group that we would just start painting. Yes, this exercise was free form—no drawing. We block in to begin the process of building a painting. While we painted the painting I had the student pay close attention to the light and dark masses. These set the foundation for building the secondary masses to apply the detail.
I wanted my students to paint the very first impression of the light and dark patterns of this photo. In the three-step process, I show the students a very simple process on how to build a painting. Once all the large and secondary masses were complete the detail applied.
MEEDEN GIFT: I enjoy sharing new finds with the students. I talked about a set of brushes I received from my wife for my birthday this year. They are made by MEEDEN, Squirrel Hair Cat's Tongue Shape Paint Brushes-3-piece set. This real hair brushes offer a versatile thick to thin stroke and hold a tremendous amount of water and pigment. Here’s a link to my 2019 Popovich's Field Journal blog review about the brushes: If you are interested here’s a link. I gave away a set of these brushes to one of my lucky students, Debra A.!
AFTERNOON SESSION: AUTUMN
Next, I demonstrated with a new paint I was introduced to earlier this year at the Watercolor Society of Indiana. They had a guest speaker, Valerie Allen from Golden Colors talking about their products. It takes a lot to impress me – I’ve been painting for 43 years and I thought I had seen it all. I stand corrected! I have fallen in love with QOR Watercolors.
I did a short talk about QoR brand followed by a demonstration using these quality watercolor paints. To learn more about QoR read my blog post and watch my video review. Here’s a link to my supply list and my go-to QoR paints.
This photo was taken last fall in Marenisco on old rt. 2 along the Presque Isle River, Michigan. QoR’s watercolors intensity was perfect for this particular subject. I painted full force, no graying of color as you can see this was a very intense fall scene and very fitting to show off the quality of QoR watercolor paints.
The second phase I slowly grayed down the shadow areas and added more color to the light areas to pump the intensity.
Final, I put in the extreme darks in the river. Adding intense colors in the water and finally took the position of the trees to support the composition of the foliage.
MORNING SESSION: SNOWY WISCONSIN RIVER
The first painting of the second day was a winter photo of the headwaters of the Wisconsin River. This was taken on New Year's Day a few years back. Marilee and I make it a point to visit this area every year on .the first of January.
During this exercise my students did a very basic line drawing using no more than five lines. Before painting, I explained in the winter white snow or objects appear cooler in temperature near you and gets warmer as it recedes away.
I also explained the temperature differences between ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, and cerulean blue.
I started by blocking in the background with a combination of ultramarine and cobalt blues with a touch of sap green. Then came forward using cobalt and cerulean through the river and bits of the foreground.
The second wash I begin building the tree masses allowing the first wash to show through to help create distance. Then brought those colors down into the river which would reflect all the colors up above in the background.
For the final wash, I approach the painting by going back to the background, adjusted for darker values, putting in details on the bank of the river and worked into the river. I again used combinations of all colors not covering all previous washes allowing them to show through to add depth, texture, and interest.
This particular exercise was also painted freeform meaning no drawing just painting the large light and dark patterns. I started with my usual block in method by painting from background to foreground and large areas to small areas. I washed in the cool gray down colors in the background working forward two more intense and darker color.
When everything was in place and the block in was dry I began placing the masses of trees, forming the shorelines and giving movement to the water. I finished up by placing larger trees in the foreground.
To finish up I added details to the trees, more emphasis on the shoreline and a few accents of color.
MORNING SESSION: FARMSTEAD IN THE WOODS
I’m quite familiar with this is a subject as it is a couple miles through the woods from our cabin. I often wonder the history of the land, the hardworking people that owned it and who works the land today.
I begin this painting by washing in the sky in the background. Then coming through the trees while the sky was still wet and into the foreground grasses. Finishing up with a light tint on each building.
My plan of action for the second phase of the painting was to place a stronger emphasis on the bows of the pines coming down to the buildings separating light from shadow. Continuing on to the foreground I had it textures and defined the road leading to the garage. While the foreground was still wet I speckled it with my toothbrush using all colors on my pallet to help unify the painting.
I finished up the painting by adding the trunks of the trees, accents of color around it on the focal point and shadows across the roofs of the buildings.
AFTERNOON SESSION: OAK TREE
I have to apologize I didn’t take any photos of this painting stages, a grand old oak. I got so wrapped-up in demoing and instructing that I just plain forgot. I once again used Indigo paper. In fact, Denny stopped in with our afternoon snacks. He is also an accomplished watercolorist and was quite interested in this handmade paper. I gave Denny a sample for him to experiment with. If you want to take Indigo paper for a test drive you can only find it online at Dick Blick’s.
I began by blocking in all the foliage of the tree and underneath, the background and then the foreground. I went back into the foliage modeling the dark areas forming some of the leaf patterns and cooling things down in the shadows.
The second phase of this painting was to form the trunk and branches weaving in and out of the mass foliage. Picking and choosing where branches go is according to the pattern in which was created. The tree trunk was moved slightly to the left, smaller branches were added, and I use my toothbrush for a spattering of lighter value color and accents to the darker areas.
The third phase of this painting was to initiate detail in the trunk, darken some of the branches and finally, working on the foreground adding textures of the grasses and ferns.
MORNING SESSION: SNOWY ROAD
I instructed the students to take great care in drawing the road to get the perspective correct. A small building was added at the end of the road and I also added a figure walking up the road. As you will notice both additions were not in the photo but I told my students before you start you must determine not only what story you want to tell, but how, why and with what visual qualities.
I began by washing in the sky gray is blue in the background quickly adding the treetops of the pines coming down to the foliage which has a slight crimson color. Then down to the foreground adding in the warmth of the grasses paying very close attention to the delineation of the road.
Going back to the pines in the background taken care of forming the tops of the pines for better identification washing down into the pines where they overlap taking a little bit less care on the actual form but paying attention to the masses. Then came down to the area below it painting in a gray down crimson color adding blues and yellows towards the bottom. From there I began forming the grasses in the lower right-hand corner allowing the white of the paper to create the snow. Working across to the road again paying attention to the perspective of the road. I added a wash of raw and burnt siennas warming the road as it came closer.
Finally adding details of small trees, smoke from the cabin and a figure walking down the road. I decided to add a wash of shadow across the foreground to indicate the coolness of the scene.
After lunch, Dillman’s had a Farewell Reception and Show & Tell in the lobby. The faculty introduced each of their students and the students shared one piece of work from the workshop. They also received an Artistic License which was a nice token of their this lovely memory. Did I mention we toasted each other with champagne and tasty desserts?
In the afternoon the students chose to have a critique of their work. We meet on the deck enjoying the lovely Great Northwoods late August weather. I surprised my students and gave each one of a demo from the workshop. I enjoy talking to them individually, getting to know them and helping them to truly see the beauty of watercolor. I had fun instructing each one of the students – boy did the time fly. A great memory of a wonderful workshop.
From there we went to the pizza party in the lodge celebrating a wonderful time with all the students and teachers. This workshop was an incredible experience which I hope you can experience someday.
I had six wonderful students from limited ability to advanced ability. My focus in this workshop was painted large areas of darks and lights, learning how to build the painting from the background to the foreground. Details or put in at the very end of the demonstration. Each demonstration I did for about 10 to 15 minutes and would stop allowing the students to simulate I was just demonstrated. This procedure demonstrating is what one would call a paint-along or a step-by-step instruction. We did many types of scenes from autumn, winter, spring, and summer with water, snow, and foliage – all the splendor of the Great Northwoods.
Everybody had a wonderful time during the four days and the class did a total of seven paintings.
Dillman’s is an experience by itself, they made you feel like family. Denny and Sue introduced all the instructors to the students of all classes so you could become familiar with other teachers. You could have dinner with Denny, the teachers, and students every night if wish go. There was an amazing turnout of 25 folks each night. One day at lunch Captain Denny took a group on a noon boat ride on a pontoon. The care that Denny and Sue take with the faculty and the students that attend the workshops was above and beyond any other workshop that I’ve given. They are unrivaled by any workshop I have seen attended or heard about. At the end of the four-days, they had a show & tell for the students and faculty each student received an artistic license which is a nice token of their this lovely memory.
"Over my painting journey, I’ve attended several workshops. Dale Popovich is an award - winning artist, who creates unforgettably beautiful watercolor paintings. Many of my workshop instructors have also been excellent at their craft. But none compare with this instructor’s generosity, individual help, caring, and overall teaching ability.
Dale provided frequent but short demonstrations, supplemented with explanation as he painted. Immediately following each demo, students painted that portion of the scene while it was fresh in their mind. As students painted, he constantly circulated, offering help whenever needed.
Dale Popovich created a positive class atmosphere in which students were free to ask questions (some with light-hearted bantering while they learned}. Each student came away with demonstrable accomplishments and, most important, a feeling of inspiration."
– Marion Wiley
2019 Watercolor Workshop at Dillman’s Bay Resort
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Dale L Popovich IWS
Dale is an award-winning watercolorist and teacher 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 breadth of his holistic approach to painting. You can also learn with this talented and experienced teacher through his workshops, Palette & Chisel, and Popovich Studio classes.