Way back in May I did a workshop at Bendigo Art Gallery with Mark Dober.
Bendigo is a regional Victorian town, with a very good gallery. I had only been up there for special exhibitions, so I was pleased to have time to wander. I thought I had taken more photos, however, this one shows how spacious and pleasing the rooms are.
Mark is a landscape artist who works en plein air. He uses a mix of watercolour and oil pastel, and is soon to have an exhibition of his work created in the You Yangs at the Geelong Art Gallery. [The You Yangs are mountains between Melbourne and Geelong, that rise up from the flat volcanic plains around them.] He says of the work he is exhibiting:
This body of new work made at the You Yangs consists of 6 multi-sheet watercolours. Four of these are 112 x 380 cm. These were made at Fawcett’s Gully, around the back of the You Yangs, accessible by the unsealed circuit road.
His exhibition is running from 12th to 16th October. It will be alongside an exhibition by Fred Williams, one of Australia’s foremost landscape artists.
So, you can imagine my interest in his workshop to learn to work with watercolour and oil pastels!
We set up in one of the galleries, and had the choice of two paintings to work with ~ a Fred Williams:
or a traditional watercolour by Ernest Waterlow’s ‘Gathering fuel, Cornish Coast’, c.1887. You can see the painting in the photo below.
My first step was to loosely draw in the figures and landscape features. Then I had to lay in large watercolour washes over the main features. I think this was the most difficult thing for me. I am not a confident colour mixer, and often don’t mix enough paint to cover the area which is a problem when working on such large areas. Even with enough paint I have trouble manipulating the paint over large areas. It dries before I can work into it. Washes in botanic art work are little things, the size of a leaf or a petal, not vast areas of sky or beach!
I tried to suppress my panic, to just let it flow. After all, it was purely for my pleasure. Embrace the wonky!
Then there was the fun part of going over the (dried) wash with oil pastel.
Some areas worked, some didn’t. I think I put too much oil pastel on some areas, and didn’t have time to get to others. Of course, I thought I would finish it off at home……
My drawing strengths are tone and fabrics, so I was very happy with the work I did on the woman’s dress.
And a closer look….
It was quite a complex painting to work on over a day, but I enjoyed the challenge and it has given me a new way of working.