Friday, December 3, 2010

Scotland paintings and the mentor experience

Anstruther Beach, 6.5 x 10" watercolour

Anstruther Schooner, 6.5 x 10" watercolour

View From Anstruther, 6.5 x 22", watercolour

Kellie Castle, 22 x 15", watercolour

I have finally decided to post the paintings I did in Scotland. I haven't worked at all on these since I have been home, and I find them quite unsatifying to look at, although I do like the first one. As I have been processing my experience at Stephen Quiller's workshop in Scotland, I have realized several things. Firstly, although I am a plein air painter, my usual medium for this is oils, and my approach is direct. Stephen's medium is watermedia, and he employs many layerings of lifting and applying colour to build up the painting. In addition to these fundamental differences, I was working on unfamiliar paper (300lb rather than the 140 I am used to -the 300lb seems to suck up the colour resulting in lifefless colour in my hands), in an unfamiliar climate (much more humid which makes a huge difference in drying times), with unfamiliar subject matter (not used to boats and buildings, never painted Scotland before -different light), vertically (I paint flat in watercolour), on top of the different style of painting. Now I can use these as excuses, or I can focus on what WAS great about the workshop. Stephen taught me so much about simplification of a complex scene, focus to keep the main things main, and technical paint application methods. All of these I can take into my work here back home. Although the paintings aren't anything I am very proud of, it was an experience I will never forget!

I just read Robert Genn's latest clickback describing the phenomenon of post-workshop letdown -a good read! This got me thinking about my own experience, and I have to say, you must give a workshop time to percolate, meditate on the whole thing, and come to terms with the good and the not so good of it. I think the same is true of any classes that you take. As the teacher, and also being a student, I think I realize the joys and limitations of studying with a mentor. My attitude is "Take what you think is good and leave the rest. Be true to yourself and your vision and don't give it up for anything -rather hone it to perfection. Mine your instructor for everything you can get, and then make it personally yours".


To purchase any of these, or commission your own painting, please email me.


Christine said... is all a journey isn't it....I applaud you for posting paintings your don't feel confident about....I think there are wonderful "moments" in each and I agree that the first is really lovely...your thoughts encourage me in my current struggles

Sharon said...

Hi Christine: Thanks for your supportive comments. I am trying to keep it 'real' on my blog. Every artist has good and not so good paintngs!

Margaret said...

Hi Sharon,

I read that R. Genn article too...and yes...regardless of the medium, there's definitely a 'down' time, and processing that must take place post-workshop experience. Sometimes, this is true even for an afternoon's "Artist's Date"...

Love the pictures you painted -- perhaps they look more lively online, but I don't see the 'flatness' that you see. Then again, it could just be my Scottish roots and my memories of visiting there that are tugging at my heart and projecting through my eyes...

Regardless, thank you! :-)

Sharon said...

Hi Margaret: Thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate your support!