Day One of the Christopher Leeper workshop went well and there was a lot of really good information for us. We listened to Chris give us some "rules" about working with watercolor and he gave us a nice handout (in case we weren't taking notes or wouldn't remember later). Then we got to watch him demo.
The most amazing thing I found was that Chris starts with warm colors - lots of yellows and oranges or pinks before he puts any greens or tree trunks or anything else down. He wants to play on the transparency of watercolor to let the glow show through. Now, he doesn't just wash a yellow wash over the whole paper, but looks at his reference and tries to find where the glow of warm colors will help the painting glow overall.
Unfortunately, I thought of everything but my camera the first day. But I did take a photo today of the painting Chris completed yesterday. Look closely and see where he lets the warm colors shine through. He said you start with warm colors because, if you want to cool something later, you can go over the warms - if you start with cool colors, you can't warm them up well without getting muddy colors.
I really want to learn how to do this and start paintings with warms, then add in the cooler colors. This painting is just stunning and the variety of colors throughout is a treat to someone who loves color. Chris is not a purist - he uses more opaque pigments here and there to give some dance to the spattered light of a forest floor or to just add in some jewel tones here and there in more opaque colors. It works when you don't have a heavy hand with them.
The first assignment for us was to take an 1/8 sheet of watercolor paper and, using a photo reference or sketch, paint without drawing on the paper. Just paint - using a brush a little larger than we felt comfortable with - putting in the warms and seeing the whites, middle values and darks. It was NOT easy!! But I felt like it was teaching me to see and get those big shapes in with color and value before trying to fiddle with the smaller shapes and details.
Painting without drawing makes for a very loose way of painting (which I liked - but which did stress me a bit). I am showing my efforts - but understand, they are just efforts to learn and incorporate what Chris was talking about and teaching. None of these are going to be pretty paintings! ha ha
If you want to see pretty paintings - and beautiful landscapes, you'll have to view a few more paintings from Chris (see below for the painting Chris did the first day + 2 beautiful snow scenes).
Oh, and in case you can't tell - I highly recommend Christopher Leeper. If you can take a workshop with him, do it!!! You will learn a lot and you will have fun and laugh and enjoy it and the time will go by so quickly - two days gone and only one more to go and I feel like I could spend a week, at least, getting the hang of this.
I'll post more tomorrow.