Apr 7, 2016

Out on the Streets - Watercolour Painting Tips

Rainy Day Vancouver - Watercolour
A strange place for me to be!!  I am a wildlife artist as you know, not really a city girl.  But here I am surrounded by people, cars and tall buildings.  Learning how signs, lights and poles can be the ‘jewelry’ that brings your painting alive.   Is this a nightmare, will I wake up?  Well actually this isn’t a dream; I am taking a 3 day class with Rex Beanland, from Calgary, “Urban Landscapes, Fast and Loose” in watercolour.   Really doesn’t sound like me, eh? 

Not a nightmare, I paid to be here!! Not a blade of grass, tree or piece of driftwood in sight!!
Rex, is great with his urban landscapes and is not afraid to populate his pictures with people and cars.  You know, the things you like to leave out but wish you could put in.  He even has people in the foreground, not just suggested way in the back.  Well I want people in my pictures too.  Not walking on the street but deep in the forest on the trail or hiking over the dunes, even picnicking by the river;  just involved with my environments.  Rex’s class seemed just what I needed. 
Rex hard at work

It was awesome!  We started off working just with people and cars.  As you can see from my practice pieces, people and cars are just shapes.  As long as they have a few details the suggestion is there and they work.  When you break that barrier you can make people do anything, just suggest the shape, add some shadows and you are away!! 
I even painted a crowd scene!!

Cars are just a shape with a bit of detail

From people we advanced to tall buildings and great washes on dry paper.  Here I really stepped out of my comfort zone.  I realized I use small washes, easy to control and lots of glazes to sculpture my subjects.  I was not ready for that ‘big’ wash and I really didn't know 'Mr. Bead' that well.
It took a bit of practice before Mr Bead would even show up!!
I was not a friend of ‘Mr. Bead’- that wonderful line of water at the edge of the wash as you move the brush across the paper.  Mr. Bead  and I had a bit of a false start but we have become good friends. 

My First Street Scene - Watercolour
People and cars really are just shapes!!
We worked very hard, Rex is a taskmaster, completing 2 large pictures and getting a 3rd underway.  I certainly learned how valuable those bits of jewelry are: a stop light, a street sign even a few street lights really bring depth and life into the street scene.  I know this has real implication for me. 
The power of suggestion is strong; I really don’t have to draw every little thing.  Although I like too!!  Finding a balance of suggestion and detail are so important.  That bit of detail seems to give so much meaning to those suggested areas.  Very powerful stuff!

You can see more of Rex’s works at rexbeanland.com.

So even if you love the trees, the beach and the trails getting out on ‘the streets’ can teach you a few new things.

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Brenda Hill CDM said...

I had to look twice, so different for you

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

I know hey!? Quite an interesting 3 days. I. Do feel lots more confident with 'my people' though which is why I wanted to take it. Rex and his wife were a neat couple to meet as well.