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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Carla O'Connor Workshop

Last week I took a watercolor workshop from Carla O'Connor.  Carla uses both watercolors and gouache (pronounced gwash like in wash).  Gouache is a watercolor that has chalk added to it to make it opaque.  The unique thing for me was to paint on hot press paper. The focus of this workshop was abstract figure and design.

Carla is a spunky, vivacious task master who makes use of every moment in the workshop.  Three of the five mornings were spent with a model.  The only painting demonstration we saw done was at the Tuesday evening meeting of our local watercolor society or if she came by and changed something on the painting you were working on.  Carla did demo some quick sketches and also showed us how to make a print.   Carla repeatedly said that we don't learn by watching her paint.  We only learn by painting.  Personally I like a combination of both.  Rather than demo in the morning we would draw very quick sketches of the model.  Did I say quick?  It was more like the speed of lightening.  5 seconds and she would say "change" which meant the model was to quickly take a new pose and we were to do a rather fast gestural drawing using the same paper.  Eventually we got to 30 second gestural drawings and even a bit longer.  I know the purpose was not to torture us although she seemed to delight a bit in that, but to get us to not analyze things and slow ourselves down but to go with the flow and just quickly get down the movement or body language of the model's poses.

The first day we each pulled a word out of a box that expressed a human emotion.  We were not supposed to share what our word was but paint the word in a non-representational way - a non-objective abstract which basically meant you could not put anything in your painting that looked like anything. You had to express the emotion with color, line, movement etc.  My table partner got rage while I got sensual.  Need I say more?

Some of our quick sketches were to be done a watercolor paper then we applied paint after the model left.  None of our paintings were done with the model still there which was a challenge in itself.

I never expect to come away from a workshop with a finished painting but tools that I may use in later paintings.  These are some of the things I did in the workshop.

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