The best cure for the Monday blues: sitting in on a watercolor class taught by David Daniels. The Introduction to watercolor class was in the 6th session so the students already had a sturdy grasp over watercolor. This proved to be true when they began critique, as the artwork they put up didn’t exactly seem like it was produced by novice watercolorists! As the class reviewed their artwork, they discussed the techniques they used to achieve their final products, from layering washes to applying frisket. The class discussed the importance of planning out a painting, as watercolor isn’t always easily lifted from the page and layering too many colors can make it appear muddy. After critique, the class sat down to observe a demonstration by their teacher.
Today’s demonstration was about the concept of negative painting. In negative painting, a wash is applied to the page and let dry. The colors of the wash are up to the artist depending on the subject matter. After the wash is dry, the artist goes back in and paints the negative spaces of their image. Once the negative space is filled in, the wash in the background that was left appears as the positive image. Negative painting is not as casual as it appears in the finished product; in fact it requires a lot of careful planning. However, negative painting can add a new and exciting dynamic to the process of creating work and add a new dimension to the way that the artist thinks about rendering their subject. Daniels demonstrated the concept on a few scratch pieces of paper and then began to work on a larger scale painting as the class observed. It was a unique experience to watch a seasoned watercolorist work on a piece in front of a class, and an effective means of learning subtle refinements of the medium.
After the demonstration, it was time for the class to begin working on their individual projects. I walked around the room and observed the students, but was soon invited to sit down and paint. David let me use his fancy paints and sable brush; I am officially spoiled for life on watercolors. I created a quick watercolor sketch using washes, but soon realized that it is very important to have patience with watercolor: if you want to properly glaze without colors bleeding into each other, you have to let your paint dry!
For more information on Introduction to Watercolor with David Daniels, visit http://smithsonianassociates.org/ticketing/tickets/reserve.aspx?performanceNumber=227489&utm_source=RAad&utm_medium=OAtsa&utm_content=mwX&utm_campaign=MayWe. The class will be offered again in the winter.