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…and the demos from the weekend

August 8, 2013


And now, what (some of you) have been waiting for: the demos from last weekend’s workshop!

My method for this sort of “architectural portrait” always begins with a structural drawing. You have to go slow in order to go fast. A painting on location might take two or three hours, depending on complexity. People are surprised to hear I spend at least half the time on the under drawing.


The key thing I want students to take home is: Drawing from the Outside in. Finding the furthest dimensions of the subject – and verifying by measuring – before drawing too many interior details. I don’t want people to become obsessed with measuring. It shouldn’t be laborious. Drawing must remain expressive. But I’m always disappointed in my own work if the proportions are off. The idea after all, is to capture a recognizable place and relay the feeling if being there. (I realize now I’m going to have to figure out how to make a video on sight-measuring. I’m thinking about how to best do it).

Really, you’ll regret rushing in if you end up needing to erase some nice drawing. Worse yet, drawing for half an hour and finding the top of the cathedral goes off the page. Used to happen to me all the time.

13Aug05_Place d'Armes_Line

Other topics during the demos included, drawing shadow shapes not linear details, (examples here, here, here and, with-nudity-here) and the compositional principle I call the gradient of interest.

Once you have a drawing you can start the fun part – pouring on the washes! It might sound hokey, but watercolor truly is a joyful medium. The color flows and mixes in front of your eyes. With the right sized brush you can cover the entire drawing in seconds. The magic all happens in a rush of splashing paint and darting calligraphy.

13Aug05_Place d'Armes_Demo

I hope, even while students are carefully drawing – ‘tongue sticking out the side of their mouth’ as my friend Lydia says, they are feeling some of that enjoyment :)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara permalink
    August 8, 2013 4:49 PM

    So fabulous and spontaneous how quickly you must make the color flow – inspires me to try to do the same and can’t wait to try it! Thank you from Texas

  2. August 8, 2013 6:08 PM

    Thank you so much for the demostration!


  1. Expressive Watercolor at Syn Studio | Tarosan
  2. Un atelier d’aquarelle avec USK – A Watercolor Workshop with USK
  3. Bringing People and Places to Life: Fluid Travel Sketches by Marc Holmes | Wanderarti

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