A Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Course
The Smithsonian Associate’s Introduction to Watercolor class met for the second time this week. Instructor David Daniels, a renowned watercolor painter and teacher known in the art world as Mr. Watercolor, fascinated students with demonstrations of his distinctive techniques. While he has painted for more than 30 years, Daniels continues to experiment with the medium, resulting in works that capture the eye and are unlike any watercolor you have seen. “That’s what drew me to this class, and to this instructor in particular,” said student Liz Bumgarner. “His work is not as conservative as typical watercolor painters – it is more complex, brighter, and more colorful. He is more imaginative.” Bumgarner is a photographer who says she always took pictures because she “couldn’t draw”. The beauty of watercolor is that it allows people with varying skills to create aesthetically pleasing artwork with form and color rather than line.
Daniels’ students come from a wide range of skill levels, backgrounds, and professions – from photographers to lawyers to retirees. His easygoing teaching style was encouraging yet helpful in this environment; he supported students’ individual visions yet didn’t hesitate to suggest more effective ways in reaching these goals. He kicked off the class with a review of assignments from the previous week, then gave a brief talk on different mixing techniques (flat, graded, and mingled) and their outcomes, then instructed students on creating a glaze chart. Glaze charts are valuable tools in understanding how hues will look and dry in your painting before you commit. By making strips of every color in your palette and painting various colors on top you can see how the colors interact and have a “cheat sheet” for future paintings, sparing you time and supplies. Watercolor involves more chemistry than other painting styles because density and chemical makeup affects how the colors run, bleed and blend.
“I’ve given lectures around the world,” said Daniels. “And I always say, I can teach you how to draw pretty well and I can teach you how to paint pretty well. But what I can’t give you is that spark of curiosity that causes you to ask, how do I push my painting further?” If there’s one thing in particular I took away from this class, it was the motivation to pursue that spark, to keep pushing my work further.
Introduction to Watercolor takes place every Monday from 10:15-12:45 from October 15 – December 10, 2012.