An Irish artist, living in Jamaica, home for a short break, joined us last night (17/01/2024) in the Kilcoole Community Centre to do a workshop on watercolour painting. Fiona is an incredibly accomplished artist as well as a fantastic teacher.
The subject for the evening was a eucalyptus branch. The object of the exercise was to start with simple shapes, a small branch with maybe 3-4 sets of leaves. Fiona clipped the branch to a watercolour pad, then turned on the torch of her mobile phone and set it beside the pad so that a strong light shone on the branch and paper. This facilitates not just clarity in shape, but also gives a much better view of the various tones of the eucalyptus.
She then used the 3 primary colours to mix a very watery mix of just two of the base colours. As a side note, Fiona uses one palette for the paints and a separate one for mixing. Plus a large water container and a large brush (dagger in this case). A smaller brush for details is sometimes used at a later stage.
With loose, confident strokes, she placed the loaded brush on the paper and proceeded to make leaf shapes as she viewed them standing up. Each leaf was carefully considered in terms of colour adjustment, but very little adjustments were made in terms of painting. The vital part was to let the watercolour do its thing and not to ‘fiddle’. (Something most of us find hard to do.)
Whilst the paint was still wet, Fiona then took a pencil and marked some of the lines. This she says, helps when you’re ‘lost’ in the midst of all the shapes, but at the same time it added an extra dimension. A very interesting technique.
At that stage all eighteen of us set to work enthusiastically. Some had never, or not for a long time used watercolour, and it was challenging, but great fun.
Fiona then added the second layer, sometimes to bring in extra colour, sometimes to correct or emphasise shapes. Again using the pencil where she felt it necessary. (It is vital to let the paint dry between layers.)
All in all an extremely worthwhile evening, techniques that most of us were unfamiliar with and the emphasis on ‘letting the watercolours do their work’ is so good.
You can read more about Fiona on her website fionagodfrey.wordpress.com.