Friday, 20 August 2010

Leaping Into The Unknown

Cockerel Appearing From a First Wash
Demonstration from my Norway Watercolour Workshop 2010
Week One.

No watercolour workshop of mine really seems complete without a cockerel in it. Somehow they seem to decide to jump straight into a demonstration as if they have a right to be there. I ran two watercolour workshops in Norway for two completely different groups of artists. During the first workshop I gave a demonstration on how I build up a painting from a simple starting point. With the cockerel above it was the eye although with many it may be the comb or wattle,the brighter red sections which are more powerful in the composition.

For many teaching artists walking into a different room with a sea of new faces watching your every brushstroke eagerly expecting great results and gorgeous paintings can be a nerve wracking experience. For me it is one of sheer joy  to be able to share my passion for art, my favourite medium and my technique. Each demonstration is completely different as my results are always unique. So I get excited by them too!

In Norway I was faced with a new situation in that many artists  attending my class were used to being given the subject and full preliminary sketch which they can use to add colour in step by step stages in order to build up a complete painting. This means that at the end of each  session everyone can take home a similar result as the composition is already planned and worked out by the tutor before the workshop begins.This is a very popular and succesful way of teaching which has been followed by masters over the centuries.

So if you were unaware of how I work imagine the shock of coming to one of my workshops where pencils and preliminary sketches do not exist. The teaching style difference is so very great in that each student attending has to depend totally on their own instincts, own creative input and own emotions regarding choices of  colour and where to place it.

With each new group I explained my technique and reasons for working this way. I  thrive on magical colour combinations and the power of this  incredible medium. And so we started with simple exercises aimed  at showing how placing the pencil to one side can lead to magical results that are unique and full of life.

It was fantastic to hear the excited comments from those who were thirsty for something new, different and achievable. I felt as though at times I was being drawn into the atmosphere as question after question was raised on how my subjects emerge from simple placement of brushtrokes and colour on a white sheet of paper. I felt exhilarated by such  incredible enthusiasm for more and more subjects to be covered and worked on in the sessions and I met such amazing people in the process of simply sharing my style.

I love my way of working in watercolour and my enthusiasm is always evident every time I am teaching. But I am aware it is hard to jump from one style you are used to in a workshop when the demonstrating artists techniques are so far apart from what you already know. Which makes the thrill even greater when ideas start to click on why a technique works and this is so fabulous to experience. Leaping into the unknown and loving it is part of my daily routine. I don't have set lines in a preliminary sketch to guide me so each journey takes me into the unexpected with often magical outcomes. To take others with me on this journey is such a fantastic feeling especially when teaching you turn around in a class and see such fabulous reactions to each new individual result. 

I also use colour for healing and therapy.So painting in  vibrant red when I had flown to get to the location, stayed in a room that was new to me and needed extra energy was a wise decision. Choosing red for this cockerel  not only acted as a demonstration to the class but also gave me a sense of well being to help add and  rise to new levels in my demonstrations that followed.

I have so much to share and as I need to catch up in my studio I will  gradually add magical moments here over the next few weeks. But I have to say I was  completely taken aback by such a warm and eager reception and now I feel even more enthusiastic to give even more.

Roll on my next workshops which take place  in August and September here. I am so alive and  eager to share my new sense of colour and subjects from Norway, They are going to be amazing!

This "Celtic Angel" as I have been nicknamed is about to start painting for the first time  since I arrived home.


Tusen Takk Norway!



cheryl said...

what a wonderful heartwarming encouraging exciting alive vibrant blog Jean.I can feel your energy and passion and I am so glad this is how for you and your fellow artists they experienced the workshops in Norway with you.What magical feelings and memories and techniques you have given and left behind.So cant wait for sept and hopefully Norway with you next year. Welcome Back.

Jean Haines SWA said...

Hello Cheryl, I know you wanted to come this year and it wasn't to be but next year you may be able to come and if you do you will absolutely love it.Norway holds a very special magic which cannot be described by words alone. You will understand when you see the beauty there,its lovely to see you here and I can't wait for September either!


Roy The Artist said...

Welcome back Jean! We have missed you! I certainly am one who is even inspired by you at the 'distance' of a book and the computer screen. I want to go on one of your workshops at some point. I find it hard to leave the pencil alone :-( sorry! But I have definitely improved my colour. BTW I have got an ad for your book on Paint My Photo.