Leighton Centre Workshop

I taught a 2 day workshop at the Leighton Centre this past weekend.  It was a wonderful experience.  I have been thinking a lot about my painting and my art career lately and a lot of the ideas I have been working on seem to have become integrated in my working method. From theory to practice. One way that I notice this is in the 2 demos I did.  I think  that they are the best demos I have ever done in a workshop setting.  When I teach I look at my demos as tools to aid my teaching.  This is very good for the students.  The flip side of that is, however, that I pay less attention to the demos as works of art and more as examples to teach.  This time there was a much better balance. I also feel that I was successful in achieving my goals for the workshop which were to go beyond just trying to copy a subject and instead to really express a vision.  To tell the story that inspired the painting.  This was the closest I’ve ever come to reaching that lofty ideal.

Technically speaking I was exhausted at the end of each day because it was very intense and I think I also worked everyone pretty hard.  One sign of a good workshop for me is when the students do a lot of painting.  This workshop was over at 4 pm and on Saturday people were still painting at 4:30 pm and on Sunday we painted right until 4.  I’ve taken many workshops and this is not always the case.

Day 1

The first day was an urban landscape theme.  I based it on this photo of a wet day in Toronto.  The photo was taken by my friend Brian Hindle.

Wet Day In Toronto

Wet Day In Toronto











This is such a made-for-watercolour photo.  The wet street with lots of reflections and the wonderful shape of the building.  This subject spoke to me of mood and mystery and I really wanted to focus on the drama suggested by the 2 vehicles right in the centre so I ignored much of the detail and focused on my vision, the story I wanted to tell.  Here is the thumbnail sketch that I created to express my take on this subject.  You can see that all the detail is subordinated to the overall goal.

Rex Beanland, Wet Day In Toronto thumbnail sketch

Wet Day In Toronto thumbnail








This is my demo of this subject.  I got just over half of it done in class and then I finished it at home.  I had forgotten to leave the bright shape on the right so I did a lot of scrubbing out with a toothbrush in my studio.  This actually made the painting even more interesting.

Rex Beanland, A Wet Day In Toronto, watercolour, 14 x 18

A Wet Day In Toronto
watercolour, 14 x 18











A friend of mine and an excellent painter, Brent Laycock, said on one of his DVD’s that a good painting should have little sections within it that speak all by themselves and I feel that, in this case there are a couple of magical little paintings within the big painting .  Here they are:

Rex Beanland, A Wet Day In Toronto detail

Detail 2










Rex Beanland, A Wet Day In Toronto detail

Detail 1










Day 2

On the second day of the workshop the subject was ‘the figure’.  This is the demo I did.  The original photo taken by my wife, Susan, was drenched in a story of this girl sitting by the pond with her thoughts drifting off.  I call the painting Pondering both because she is by a pond and because she is pondering.

Rex Beanland, Pondering, watercolour,14 x 18

watercolour, 14 x 18












This painting particularly in the jean jacket employs a style that I don’t use a lot, namely lots of layering.  I did 4 light washes to create the texture of the jacket and then a couple more washes to add the dark parts.  If I was doing this at home I could easily have done 8 – 10 washes to get even more texture before adding the darks.  Very time consuming but also very effective.  Also interesting was the use of a 1″ flat brush to create the ripples in the pond.

Finally some shots from the class. Thanks again to everyone for being part of this great experience.

Rex Beanland, Leighton Centre Workshop

Leighton Educational Centre

Rex Beanland, Leighton Centre WorkshopRex Beanland, Leighton Centre Workshop














Rex Beanland, Leighton Centre Workshop










Rex Beanland, Leighton Centre Workshop

Rex teaches (the look)

Rex Beanland, Leighton Centre Workshop

Class Photo

2 thoughts on “Leighton Centre Workshop

  1. Susan

    It was a fun, informative and intense workshop. I really enjoyed doing the warmup exercises of people, crowds and cars for day one and the face, hand and clothing for the second day. Your video presentation of the folds in clothing was very informative. All these fun exercises really prepared me to plunge whole heartedly into the larger paintings. Thanks for a great weekend. Now to complete the paintings. Susan

    1. Rex Beanland Post author

      Thanks for the comment Susan and for your enthusiasm during the workshop. It meant a lot when you said how the warm ups exercises really released any fear and got you involved in a very positive way.


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