Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I spent yesterday catching up with things, doing some laundry, unpacking my art materials, replying and sending some emails, downloading and sorting and sizing photos from the workshop, etc.  And resting without having any demands on me at all.

So I can share a little bit about the 3-day Carol Carter workshop we had here in Cincinnati over the weekend.  It was sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society and I coordinated it for them.  

It was fun to meet artists who traveled from outside the area - one flying from New Jersey to attend (Laura Starrett who is a pleasure to be around with a great laugh, easy smile and attitude).  

And poor Carol drove for many hours from St. Louis to the Cincinnati area to get here Thursday night through terrible thunderstorms and hit-or-miss tornadoes!! (The life of a full time working artist is not easy.)

Day One was all about color and shaping objects with very few colors, making those few colors work like powerhouses to do extra work as they blend and merge.  Carol's paintings are known for their inner glow and she showed us how she gets that glow in the orb demo by using just 3 pure, transparent colors (the yellow, red, blue primary colors) to make 5-6 colors that shaped the orbs.   Using our masking tape rolls, we traced 3 orbs on our watercolor paper (Carol prefers Arches 140 or 300 but she does like Fabriano, too).  Then we started from the middle of the orb out, painting a base color and using the other 2 colors to go around and blend and shape the orb. One orb began with a base color of yellow (Carol uses Aureolin); one orb began with a base color of red (Carol uses Alizarin Crimson); and one orb began with a base color of blue (Carol uses either French Ultramarine Blue or Prussian Blue).  She prewet the entire orb and painted in the base color - everything is about working wet-in-wet with Carol's style so you never paint into dry paper.  You then paint the other 2 primary colors around the outer edges of the circle, top and bottom separated.  So you'd have a yellow base circle with a red top and blue bottom (example).  

Because the subject (the entire orb) is wet, the colors bleed out and into each other, but you keep the middle area clean by manipulating that paint a little more - still while it's wet.  If you want until it's dried, you get brush strokes and lines.  In the end, you want to see all 3 colors pure and then mixing towards the middle and no mud.  This sounds so easy - but it's not!  Try it and see for yourself.  In the above photo, you can see the orbs Carol did and the pears she did, using the same technique.  Look at those pears!!!  They are neon glowing powerful pears, aren't they?

You really need to SEE Carol paint to know how she does this and how she works.  (So if you can, do take a workshop from her - you will be happy you did.)  
But, as she says, there is no secret or mystical element to it - it's just how she applies the pigment into very wet areas at a time.  For the pears painting, we painted from the background forward (which is how Carol always paints) using just 2 colors.  Yep, just 2 colors - Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine Blue.  The 2 merge towards the middle to make a greyed color behind the pears - which makes them pop even more when those colorful pears are put in front of the greyed area.  
I do have to tell you, those of us who were using Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna were not happy with our more brown results - the Winsor Newton Burnt Sienna (which is what Carol uses) was a prettier and livelier color and did not look so dull brown.  

After the background was done, we prewet the area underneath the pears and painted in the same 2 colors, leaving a few areas for pure pear colors (which were Aureolin Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and Cerulean Blue).  We painted the pears the same way we painted the orbs - color from the inside out within a very wet shape, leaving areas dry that will be the white of the paper to shape the pears.  Carol uses a lot of little white areas to help her control her wet washes and to give her some visual pop in the paintings.

Carol babysits her washes as they are drying so she will know how a wash is drying.  If something is going in a way she doesn't want, she has time to change it without going back in when it's dry.  And she weights down the edges of her paper (even if it's a small sheet of paper) so there are no large buckles or ridges forming in the paper or with the pigment puddling, etc.

So just 5 colors make those glowing paintings of pears - of course, you have to know how to do it and practice practice practice!!  I wasn't so happy with my orbs or my pears but I wasn't going to tell Carol that - no negativity allowed!!  We had to say, during the end of the day when we taped up our paintings for everyone to see, what we liked about our painting or what we learned that we didn't know before.  

With this much color being used and talked about, there was a lot of excitement during the 3 days!!  And this was just Day One!!! ha ha

Here are my versions of the orbs and the pears.  The pears didn't get finished and they may not be (still need to soften the white edges and put in the stems), but I did learn and will try to incorporate this way into my paintings, perhaps choosing different color combos but remembering to use pure, transparent colors most of the time, especially when trying to get good clean - and colorful - mixes.  (I added some red into the Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna to make it prettier but then that ruined the cleaner look, I think.)

If you want to see more from the workshop, check out Carol's Facebook postings - she has photos of the group, the paintings, her demos, and even the Cincinnati skyline on the evening she arrived.

I'll share a few more photos from Day 2 and Day 3 later - I really like my Day 2 painting of the Datura (something I've tried to paint several times and never gotten something I'm pleased about but this one makes me smile).

Thanks to Carol, 
to those artists who traveled from out of town, 
and to those GCWS members who made this a fun and exciting workshop!


Maggie Latham said...

Sounds like you all had a very good time. ...and thanks for sharing, Rhonda.

Studio at the Farm said...

Rhonda, thank you for all this information about Carol's workshop - fascinating and inspiring!!!v

Debbie Nolan said...

Wow Rhonda - this sounds like the best workshop...so much to learn and inspire one. Thanks for sharing - hope you will tell us more about day 2 and 3. Have a great week.

Debbie Nolan said...

Wow Rhonda - this sounds like the best workshop...so much to learn and inspire one. Thanks for sharing - hope you will tell us more about day 2 and 3. Have a great week.

Lorraine Brown said...

thanks for sharing your workshop experience. I knew it would be a fabulous one

CrimsonLeaves said...

What gorgeous colors throughout this post. I think your work looks lovely, Rhonda. Don't sell yourself short; your colors are beautiful!

RH Carpenter said...

So glad you all are enjoying my take on the workshop and the paintings shared!

http://carolking.wordpress.com said...

Wow, wow, wow! your pears GLOW! Thank you for the detailed description of the day's work. I can't wait to go home and try it.

RH Carpenter said...

Thank you, Carol :) Do try it - it's fun and it takes a few tries to get something you really like, but it's worth the play and practice time :)