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Author Archives: Rex Beanland
This year the CSPWC’s Symposium will be held in Cornwallis Nova Scotia. I was extremely pleased to ask to be one of the instructors there. It’s in a fabulous location and promises to be an exciting week devoted to watercolour painting. My wife has already signed up to take part in the symposium. I highly recommend that you consider taking advantage of this opportunity if it is at all possible. The comments from all participants at past symposia has be excellent.
Here is a great deal of information about the symposium. For further details check out the CSPWC website.
I was in Toronto for the AGM of CSPWC on May 2. I still find Toronto a fascinating city and look forward to going each year at this time. It’s so full of energy, creativity and wonderful architecture and some fascinating neighbourhoods.
This is a short video clip of some of the sights and sounds from Toronto. It’s unfortunate that the audio is so poor for this mediation event because the music was absolutely wonderful. I was moved by it and so pleased to have experienced it.
The AGM is held each year in the historic Arts & Letters Club, a favourite meeting place for the Group Of Seven.
I was thrilled to receive the President’s award for outstanding service to the society. I’m still now sure what I did to receive that but I was very honoured and very surprised.
These are selected images by the 7 new members juried in this year.
I taught 2 workshops this past weekend at the Paint Spot in Edmonton. Saturday was an Urban Landscape workshop. Sunday was a Landscape workshop. I didn’t get either painting finished during the workshops so I’m posting the various stages in the life of each painting. Neither is completely finished and at some point I’ll take them further. In each case Day 1 is the way the painting was at the end of the workshop.
The first one is a very interesting view of the entrance way of the Hotel MacDonald.
This subject is one of my favourite views of the foothills near the Leighton Centre.
I’ll be back at the Paint Spot for an Experimental Watercolour workshop on Saturday May 30 and a Plein Air Workshop on Sunday May 31.
I’m very excited about both these workshops. Plein Air has, for me, become one of the most important practices that I have. The Experimental Workshop is one I’ve just developed and it is the most fun that you can have with water that I’ve seen. Plus there is so much excellent learning that happens in this process so it will be helpful no matter what style of painting you do.
If you’re in the area I hope to see you there.
This past weekend I taught a workshop for Nancy Lynn Hughes at Kensington Art Supply & Instruction in their beautiful new location at 6999 11 Street S.E. Calgary.
Here is a short preview clip that shows some of the techniques taught in this workshop.
This was a fairly new workshop for me. At first the title, Experimental Watercolour seems a little daunting. “Experimental” carries a lot of connotations but really what it is is using water in a much more intentional way for all the many effects it can create.
I just got the first stage of each demo completed during the workshop and I wanted to show the various stages of the way I finished each painting .
This first painting is a very loose interpretation of a tree I photographed in Glenmore Park. This painting is a lot of fun to do. Everyone had a great time doing it. I think because it’s such a different approach to painting that everyone had to just let go and let the water do it’s thing.
The next painting is of a favourite location. It’s a small creek at Elbow Falls just directly across from the falls. I like the zig zag pattern as the creek disappears into the trees. This painting was done with a lot of masking and a lot of throwing of paint.
This is the painting after the workshop. You can see that all the snow is masked out.
This was after the first time in the studio. I used some tree stamps made out of matt board to begin the main trees.
Day 3 with the masking removed.
And the final version.
The next painting is a demonstration of a method to create water by painting bands of colour and spraying them until they blend. It was also an introduction to using masking fluid.
I used a sharpened stir stick dipped into white gouache to get the fine line of the fishing pole and line.
I really enjoyed the paintings of Loreley. I love her version of the Glenmore Tree. Gorgeous colour, fascinating lines, and a great sense of light.
It was a wonderful workshop. A great group of friendly and enthusiastic students. Thanks to all.
Don’t forget that I’m offering a Plein Air Workshop at the same location June 13 – 14, 2015. Call Nancy if you are interested.
I was thrilled to hear last week that I my application for signature status with the Federation Of Canadian Artists was successful. AFCA which means associate member of the FCA. I took a couple of years to get all the required elements for the application so it is quite a big deal. As an artist who toils away in solitude in the studio it’s important for me to be able to step back and see my work in the context of other artists and signature status is one way of doing that. It means some excellent artists have viewed my work and given it the big thumbs up.
The other big event in my art journey also came fairly recently. I was asked by the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour to be a principle instructor at their annual watercolour symposium. This year it will be held Sept 28 – Oct 3 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. I love teaching watercolour and I have done it for a number of years but this to me is a step up. The list of previous instructors at this prestigious event includes many of the best watercolour artists from across Canada. It’s definitely an honour and a real motivation to keep going.
Finally, when I got back from my workshop in Edmonton, I had an email from the Saanich Peninsula Arts and Crafts Society (SPAC) in Sidney, B.C. asking me to do a workshop there in Oct 2016. I have long dreamed of being able to travel across the country as a watercolour teacher and it seems that that dream is now coming true. In 2014 their workshop instructors were Alvaro Castagnet and John Salminen. Alvaro is one of my 2 main heroes in watercolour and Salminen is someone who produces work that I am in awe of. I certainly don’t put myself in their category (yet) but I know by the feedback I get from people at all my workshops that I have something to offer and I love to connect and help all the people I meet in workshops. So I am completely thrilled by all these events, humbled by the opportunities and grateful for this journey that I’m walking.
I thought I would brighten up this post by adding an assortment of recent studies that I have done. Interestingly after having so much success with my urban landscape paintings culminating in receiving my AFCA I took some time to ponder – what next? Right away I started doing this studies mostly based on a beautiful sunny day I spent on Stephan Ave a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued by the light and also by seeing the figures in a new way, more intimate way. Figures are an important feature of all my urban landscape paintings but nearly always they are just figures standing around. Now I’m much more interested in having the figures tell a story just by their positions or motions. I think this is a nudge that has come from somewhere to show me what direction to move in. I think I’ll listen to this voice.
I did an urban landscape workshop for the St Albert Painters’ Guild on Saturday. That was my first time to St Albert and I was very impressed. Lovely city, nice buildings and a beautiful location for the workshop. It was held in the big civic/library/courthouse complex. The main floor has a number of lovely, bright studios on the main floor. We were located in the painting studio. What I liked in particular is that the entire set up gave the impression that St Albert really values and supports the arts. As an artist you love to see that.
Anyway, once again, I made the decision to do more of the little practice studies that participants seem to get so much out of and to de-emphasize the actual main demo. So I just got the demo started when we ran out of time. I let everyone know that I would finish it at home and either photograph all the stages or do a short video. As you can see I did a video.
First I just wanted to show some photos of the day. It’s so interesting how excited people get when they see how easy it is to paint figures when you don’t treat it as a drawing exercise but instead let the mark the brush makes create the figure. It relieves all the stress to just push the hairs of the brush into the paper and see what happens. Often you get marks that are full of character and interest. That is clearly illustrated by these 2 samples done by some of the participants.
In the top image the figure right in the middle just oozes character and attitude.
In the bottom image the figure in the middle just reminds me of the student I always dreaded showing up in my grade 5 home room. I knew he was going to be trouble.
Here are some photos of the group in action. Just outside the windows is a lovely river and park.
Our formal class photo.
And this is the video detailing how I finished the painting.
Just because of a great question from one of the participants I’m including the photo that this scene was based on.
Thanks so much to everyone for an excellent workshop.
On Wednesday March 4, I had the pleasure of doing a demo for the CCPS. This is a great group to work with. Lots of members present, very enthusiastic and very appreciative. They always make me feel extremely welcome.
These first 2 photos show the group watching. When a group is this focused it’s very motivating for the artist.
It’s nice also when there is a mirror so that I can paint in my normal position with the board on a slight incline. When I demo on an easel with the paper almost vertical it’s much harder to control the dripping.
Since I was doing a painting with figures I invited some members to come up and try their hand at creating a figure using the brush with no drawing. People are often a little intimidated by doing figures but when they see how easy it is they love it.
This is the painting at the end of the demo . . .
. . . and this is the painting after I finished it in the studio.
Interestingly when I got the painting home I didn’t like the fact that the tent on the left was much shorter than the 2 figures beside it. It didn’t really make sense. It was like the figures were walking right into it. I hadn’t noticed this when I did the drawing. To fix this I used a toothbrush and some tape to lift out almost another inch and a half at the bottom of the tent including the metal pillar. With a toothbrush you can lift out paint and get back to almost white paper. If you look closely about even with the middle of the metal pillar you can still see the original bottom of the tent. Using the same process I cut about 1/2″ off the legs of the woman beside the tent. Now it has a much more logical feel. Many people say that watercolours can’t be changed but I think this shows that you can, in fact, make major changes.
Thanks to CCPS for the opportunity to demo and thanks to Jackolynn Coughlin for taking the photos.
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of doing a demo for the Calgary chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists. It’s a excellent group that really encourages and inspires members’ growth.
I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time so I chose a landscape that can be done quickly using my favourite 3 wash method. I’ve been using this method in nearly all my urban landscapes over the past 2-1/2 years. It involves a first wash of yellow ochre that covers the entire sheet of paper. The second wash is where you add all the light, mid and dark values (in other words virtually the entire painting). Then in the third wash you add both the darkest darks and also the lightest lights using white gouache.
There are of course many different approaches to watercolour but this is the one I’ve used almost exclusively for all my urban landscape paintings of the past 3 years.
Here is the painting that I did. About 60% of it was done during the demo.
Many thanks Sheila Schaetzle for taking the following photos.
We have just produced our latest DVD, Inspired Watercolour with Brent Laycock. I am, of course, completely biased but I am extremely proud to have been involved in this project. Brent is an excellent acrylic painter but I like to think that his soul is heavily invested in watercolour and this is the DVD that I had hoped that he would make. It was such a pleasure editing it because I learned so much from it. It is packed with tips and techniques but what I really like is how Brent so generously shares his thinking process. As my wife, Susan, said over and over, he comes across as a charming man.
We will have copies of the disc available within 2 days and I can highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in watercolour.
I taught an urban landscape workshop for the Calgary Sketch Club this past Sunday. It was a wonderful experience. In planning the workshop I felt that it would be most useful to the participants to focus a lot of time on some of the crucial basic aspects of watercolour such as value even if this meant there would be less time available for the main demo. So we studied value a bit and then did a fun painting that just plays with value. In order to make up for not finishing the main demo painting during the workshop I thought I would finish it at home and take photos of the process. I hoped that this might be the best use of time and enable everyone to get the most out of the workshop. I’ll wait for the feedback to gauge the effectiveness of this.
Anyway I’m posting here the aforementioned photos.
Exercise 1: Value
This is a study that uses very light wet in wet washes for the sky and then a massive amount of very dark washes for the buildings. I think you’ll never be afraid of making dark strokes after doing this painting. Anyway, this is the painting, as far as I took it in the workshop.
And this is the finished painting. I love to add those little sparkles of cad red light and cobalt teal. I also did some lifting out of the dark foreground to create a little colour and value contrast. Doing this painting is an excellent learning opportunity.
Exercise 2: Urban Landscape
This is the photo I chose for the main demo. It’s a photo I took about a year ago and I’ve looked at it many times and it’s never spoken to me. This time however I noticed St Mary’s church at the end of the street and I thought that it was an interesting shape. I also liked the colourful building on the left and I really enjoy these views down a street with tall building on either side. So it contained a lot of the elements I look for but there are some big problems with it. After studying it I came to identify 2 main problems. The first is that the very interesting shape of the church is way to small and secondly, and most importantly, the huge negative space (sky) between the buildings is much too large. It seems to push the buildings apart.
So, as I usually do, I made a quick little thumbnail and all of a sudden the photo excited me.
The drawing that I did in the workshop closely follows the thumbnail.
My usual practice in cityscapes is to do a first light wash that covers the entire paper except for selected whites in the centre of interest.
This next photo shows the painting approximately the way I left it at the end of the demo.
When I got home I worked on the left side of the painting and added more value to the figures and cars. I like that the buildings on the left have a cleaner, lighter feel to them. I must also admit that I love the reflections coming towards the viewer.
The next stage involved darkening the shadow on the building centre-left and playing with some colour on the lower building and adding some details like the light poles.
In this stage I modified the figures. I used some white gouache mixed with cobalt blue for the main figure on the left. Since the painting was overall lighter than I usually do I made the 2 main figures darker. I also added two vague trees between the mid ground buildings and the background church. These really connected the painting front to back.
In the final stage I had a good critique from my wife and I realized that I like the configuration of the light poles better in the thumbnail than in the painting so I lifted out a bit and found this arrangement more satisfactory even though the smaller one comes a little too close to the church. The pole with banners on the left seemed to tie things together nicely. My wife pointed out that having all the colour on the left and a rather dark, sombre building on the right didn’t work so I lifted out a bit and added a bit of opaque paint to let some light into the right hand building. A bit of dry brush here and there sort of finished things off, at least for now.
I’m very happy with the result. In fact, for some reason when I worked on this painting at home I just seemed to have a different approach to it. I’ve done many cityscapes in the past couple of years and I have developed a certain style that I use. This painting was done with a cleaner, lighter touch. I’m not sure where that came from but I like it and it certainly added to my enjoyment of this painting.
Again, many thanks to the Sketch Club for this opportunity and thanks especially to the participants who made it such a great experience. I love being in a room where there is enthusiasm, openness, and a desire to learn and try new things.