The Anne Abgott workshop is now a memory, but I'm so glad that I went. Anne is a delightful Canadian artist now living in Florida. She gave invaluable information about watercolor organizations and shows and encouraged us to participate in more of them. She clarified the differences between shows seeking transparent watercolor entries and those seeking aqueous entries. She suggests that artists read a prospectus very carefully because each show is different.
I was dubious on Wednesday when Anne said we would do three paintings in three days. Although none of my paintings are completed at this time, we made considerable progress and all I need is a little more time to complete them.
Anne was generous in sharing her paints with students. Despite saying I had decided not to buy any additional colors, I fell in love with the Transparent Turquoise and HAD to buy it. (I also purchased Cobalt Teal Blue and Yarka Russian Green.)
Now, on to the paintings! Below are the three reference photos...
Rumor has it that some registered attendees took one look at the reference photos and bailed on the workshop altogether. What a shame! On day one, we painted bicycles. Personally, I love to paint bicycles; this is my third painting of them. Here are the first two:
On day one, I found myself thinking that I could have just painted it myself at home. I had chosen to do mine as a half-sheet and I was falling behind. I felt like all I was being taught was what colors Anne likes to use and trying to remember what colors she wanted where was stressing me out a bit.
When we got to the (green left side) background, Anne talked to us about using casein, which I have never used. I found it to be a close cousin to the milk paint and chalk paints I've used on furniture. I am unsure that I like it in my bike painting, but I'm glad I experienced painting with it.
Lacking a few hours of additional work, this is the state of my bicycle painting:
On day two, we painted the collection of bottles. We were told that we could do one bottle, or several or the entire image. Having never painted reflections and crystal to a large degree, I decided three bottles would be challenge enough.
In this painting, I found Anne taught more technique and what I had written off as personal color choices on day one began to make sense as color theory! She definitely knows how all colors in her palette work together and how to indicate shadow in any color.
Once the large shapes were in, Anne talked at length about lifting out lights and whites instead of painting around linework and small shapes. Although I have lifted paint, I have never painted a large area with the intention of pulling lighter colors out later. I found this worth contemplating in future works. (Note: This only works with non-staining colors.) We also talked a great deal about softening the edges of the shapes after removing masking fluid. Apparently, Anne spends hours doing this at the end of each painting. Since her paintings are amazing, I also need to give this method serious consideration.
Here is an "in-progress" shot and my 95% finished bottle painting:
Anne's method of painting dark backgrounds is similar but better than one I had previously employed. She underpaints the colors found in the painting before putting the dark over them in a crosshatch manner. It provides a richness that accentuates the subject matter and as she wants a background to "have life."
On the final day of the workshop, we painted a bird of paradise. All the techniques of the first two days were reiterated. We mingled colors on the paper, we lifted, we negative painted, we used casein, we softened edges!
The saturated colors are right up my alley. I look forward to finishing the petals and the leaf at bottom left. In this painting, I think the turquoise casein background "works." I'll keep it in my repertoire.
At the end of the day on Friday, I reflected on how generous Anne Abgott was with us. She shared so many wonderful tips about all aspects of life as an artist: gold gesso, card-making techniques, apps to enhance reference photos, the importance of using your own images to paint from, how to photograph your finished work, etc.
I hope my path crosses Anne's again in the future. I encourage anyone who wants to amp up the color in their paintings to pick up her book, Daring Color or to attend one of her many workshops.