Thursday, August 17, 2017


This hour-long DVD, by Creative Catalyst Productions, shows us a leisurely painting session with Shirley Trevena.  Shirley has a signature style and a way of painting which is different from any other watercolor artist.  She rarely, if ever, draws anything on her paper before painting but looks closely at still lifes she sets up (sometimes taking an hour to set up a still life but this one is not so intense).  While looking, she chooses her colors, laying each one out individually on a white plate (she doesn't use a palette).  

Putting down the first colors (of the deep red amaryllis flowers, she begins at the top right of the paper and works her way down.

If you are a beginner, you won't want to get this DVD as I think it would be frustrating to you.  But if you've got a few years under your belt, you'll enjoy watching it and learning how she looks and sees (always about the shapes), and then paints her interpretation of the set-up.  She rarely names colors, but works in Winsor Newton pigments, so you might be able to guess which colors she's using at any given time.  But she started with 2 reds and I believe a black added to darken the red (she leaves the white the paper for white but doesn't shy away from adding black to a color).

This is just the top half of the painting (it looks like she's working on a half sheet of watercolor paper).  She does prewet and stretches the paper by just wetting it, wetting some tape and then putting the tape around the edges of the paper.

The colors and shapes begin to happen and spread over the paper as she works on the flowers and then the leaves and stalks.  (The full painting is on the cover of the DVD but she is doing this one again and it will be slightly different each time.)

  She creates background color after she has the flowers and leaves and pods down on the paper by making sure the first layers are bone dry and then glazing over and around areas - choosing her colors, not for what is in front of her in the vase of flowers, but for what colors she likes - and she likes adding texture to her painting by lifting with a dry paper towel or splattering paint on with a toothbrush.  

She got this far in the painting and then, choosing another piece of watercolor paper, she started at the bottom of the paper and showed how she created the white lilies.  She did some drawing of the white lilies using a thick water soluble graphite pencil.  She very lightly drew in the lines she wanted, then painted green at the tops of the lilies, letting the color bleed a little down.  By painting over the water soluble graphite, she got  a little of the black graphite in the mix of the color, making a textured look.   

She finished the lilies and stems, plus put in some background color here and there, then returned to the top (the first paper and painting) to the amaryllis flowers and leaves.

You can see where she used a "stick from the garden" to draw out lines from the pigment to the edges of the paper in places and draw in lines of the pods and leaves, too.  

You can see what the finished piece looks like on the DVD cover.  

I enjoyed watching this and watching her work.  She talks a lot about not fiddling with bits, not drawing a lot (because it makes you want to fill in the lines like a coloring book), and looking at shapes, not things.  She also talks about color choices and using your imagination rather than duplicating exactly what you see in front of you.  She's been painting for decades and it shows - she knows her stuff.

Now, to see the second DVD!


Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

good review :) will have to look up more about her, her work is lovely :)

Chris Lally said...

Great review, Rhonda! Yes, she knows her stuff!!

E.M. Corsa said...

I love her work too. I have used a graphite watersoluble pencil for years in conjunction with my watercolors. It adds a nice richness. If anyone is interested I like this one: General's Sketch and Wash graphite pencil.

RH Carpenter said...

Glad you enjoyed my take on the DVD, Jennifer Rose, Chris and Elizabeth (I have the General's Sketch and Wash pencils, too and really like them and how they bleed out a bit with just a touch of water).

More to come!