Note: this replaced the workshop planned with Clare Weatherill, who was unable to act as a tutor on this occasion.
We had a fascinating workshop with Sandra Smith-Gordon, all about accurately observing flowers and leaves, to draw and watercolour them. There were photos, drawings and paintings displayed for us to see, as well as fresh flowers to work from.
We started by drawing a leaf placed on white paper, as accurately as possible, using one line. Sandra showed us how to sharpen our H pencils to a fine point, and how to cut a rubber at a convenient angle to use. It was surprising that we all became completely involved in drawing one leaf for two hours!
Sandra suggested that we take a few breaks to focus on the trees across the river, in order to rest our eyes.
Later, Sandra demonstrated mixing three strengths of a watercolour, so we could practise painting petal shapes in graded tones. We started painting at the top of the small shape with water, gradually adding more pigment into the bead of water as we came down, with very dark at the bottom. It is very important to keep a good bead of water, more than one would expect, at all times. The adjacent shape is painted when the first is dry. Sandra emphasised that the best quality paper should be used for drawing and painting flowers, or it won’t work.
It takes a lot of practice to achieve a soft graduation of tone in a small shape. Some were done in two colours. Painting these shapes so that they overlap in a circle, or so they fan out in another layer outside the first, is a good practice for painting flowers. We were given a list of different exercises to take home.
We all enjoyed the day. It was a delight to discover this particular traditional style, with the help of Sandra’s informed enthusiasm.
Report by Philippa Seebohm