Friday, August 3, 2012

Watercolor Class Mid-Coast Maine

In my coast of Maine watercolor class with teacher David Dewey I was the wide eyed Junior Dabblerette in the midst of accomplished master painters. I was OK with that (Yay!) & the atmosphere was welcoming. David geared his demonstrations so that I the beginner as well as the experienced painters received a lot of concepts, understanding & inspiration.

Photo of one of the painters

Gray days (the majority) were soft & calm & made certain colors POP! You got to see & paint quiet nuances of grays. David would say "medleys". Warm, cool, light, dark, so many colors can come from so few...

One misty day while the others painted elaborate harbor scenes (oh, such draftsmanship they had!), I set out to create a chart, mixing grays from 3 colors & exploring some characteristics of water COLOR that David had demonstrated. David says, sometimes you plan with your left brain, other times intuition rules. A bit of both, above. David says he still makes color charts... 
(Thanks to Carol G, Paris Breakfasts, not only for introducing me to David's class, but for showing in her blog that it's OK to mess up, or to follow your own direction, integrating what you've learned...)

We had one vivid sunny clear day, sea winds galore! So wonderful to watch kayaks, canoes & sailboats, instead of the motor traffic of my city's harbor... Above is a photo of more or less the scene that David painted as a demonstration. Oh, but his painting was gorgeous & I learned so much: anchor your painting, keep colors & shapes simple, create multi-toned luminous shadows, drop in color so it releases, saturate your brush, pay attention to pairings of tones & values, create patterns & repetition.It's less about the scene, more about the painting, though he depicts a scene beautifully.

We had Weather. One day we had to pack up & RUN because of a storm that brought buckets of rain, lightning & thunder! Plein air painters are a hearty bunch! I realized how I had started out totally disorganized, having to make multiple trips from my car, not experienced at outdoor painting. Day by day I pared down my stuff & repacked. It's OK to be a Greenhorn. 

I didn't come back with large finished paintings. But I did come back with tons of new learning. Above a thumbnail that is in a style with which I'm comfortable...Fast, Quick & Sketchy! Totally intuitive.
I did come back with a little sketchbook journal filled with notes & terrific David Expressions & Explanations & quicky line drawings. I'm using them now to practice. My new learning involves using my (weaker) left brain: conscious choices, planning based on learning principles of color & the medium.  Above, a thumbnail of a boat, but don't think about the boat as much as shapes, lines, rhythms, says David.
A value study. I have rarely done those. They are invaluable I now see. 
Partly finished painting using the thumbnail, value sketch & a photo reference... Color as structure, patience, discipline, slow, conscious selection & planning...
My finished painting, though I still call it a sketch...I had the feeling that there'd be a learning curve in this class. Yes, indeed! Lots of learning & wonderful fun!


  1. Terrific lessons here. You really got David's messages - there are many, yet they are simple and clear. Love your loose thumbnail and the photo on the clear day is heaven. Hope you'll go back for more - he really feeds you doesn't he - both brain and eye.
    Thanks cg

  2. Sounds like a wonderful class - I'm jealous! Sounds like you learned a lot too. I LOVE your color chart.

  3. Thank you for sharing your class with David Dewey with us! I love his "medleys", wonderful lessons that are as valid for photographers as they are for watercolorists. So much to learn!

    Your finished painting is beautiful, as are your sketches and the color chart.

    A wonderful weekend to you,

  4. Sounds like an exciting week in Maine.
    btw your comment about Portland not being 'rural'. I live outside the city in the country, hence my rural comment on my blog. Where was this class? Wher might I get info on the classes? Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  5. Il est probable que mon jugement va à l'encontre des autres. Oui, la dernière peinture du tableau a davantage de couleurs, on voit qu'il fait jour, soleil même. mais la représentation de ce bateau en blanc et gris bleuté est tellement plus chargée de romantisme, tellement plus poétique. On peut imaginer que la lune déverse une lumière douce et bleutée sur la campagne et sur la mer et qu'une grande douceur baigne la nature.

    My judgment is probably quite unorthodox. Yes, the last painting of the boat is more colorful, one can see it is daylight, even sunny, but the representation of this boat in white and bluish-gray is so much more romantic, so much more poetic. One imagines the moon shining its soft blue light over the countryside and the sea and a great softness enveloping nature.

  6. Looks like you had a great time and learned a lot. I am very bad at drawing, but recently I took a photography course. I love learning.
    P.S. Rita, thank you for all your recent comments on my posts. I will be replying to some of them directly under your comment entries on my blog. Best regards.

  7. I *love* your sketchbook/thumbnails/ !! Where was this class? (I will scroll down to see if you've mentioned it earlier.)

  8. Birdman told me to come visit your blog. Great, great drawings.

    Yes, our state of Maine is FULL of inspiration. Too bad the dang winters are about 6 weeks too long, but, oh well. Sketch on!

  9. I read with great interest as I started painting in the 80's. Being a complete novice I chose watercolor. Whew that was hard. I lasted a few years then had to drop my lessons. I still love the loose lovely effects in watercolor paintings. I love your work and that little Paris street scene has my heart.

  10. What does he mean about 'Bite the paper'
    that's a new one for him...
    intensity of color?
    More color swatches PLEASE!!

    1. "Take a good bite out of that paper," said he. Meaning, saturate your brush, saturate your paper. I take it to mean, use the paint freely verses timidly...He said it about a bold red that he was laying in on his boat, yes, intensity of the color at once rather than many glazes. He had so many great ways of phrasing things & expressions. "Jazz it up!" when he dropped some shell pink into his rusty red. Or in between analytic descriptions of how he was using color theory, when he'd just dropped in a color that was doing great things to another color he'd pop in: "Oooooooooh yeah!!"
      Happy swatching to you, Rita

  11. I absolutely love your blog!!!From the juice barista at mojo!

  12. I found you from Carol.G parisbreakfasts.
    I love her blog & I'm so pleased she mentioned you in her lastest post, I'm struggling trying to blob paint, I feel I have a long way to go, to even achieve anything like your sketchs or Carols, & you are both still going to classes to learn more. Your sketchs are fabulous & using very little paint. I'll be back to learn more from you.


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