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Dawson College Watercolor Class Demo : White on White

October 6, 2014

14Oct05_DawsonDemo_Final
I’m at Dawson College right now, doing a watercolor demo for the illustration class. This was my dry run. I like to do a version of a demo the night before, to improve my chances in front of an audience.

This guest appearance is something I’ve been doing for the last few years (2013, 2012). I hope it goes well. I had to be here at the ungodly hour of 8:30am. The first thing I’ll tell them is, as a professional artist, you will never have to be up at 8:30 again. Except that’s a total lie, as I was doing it all week in Brazil. But I digress.

I like doing this lecture. It’s just a brief demo, but it’s been helpful for me – doing it once a year. Clarifying how I talk about the three steps in the Light > to > Dark,  Large > to > Small painting process I call ‘Tea, Milk, Honey”. (More info on that here and here).

14Oct05_DawsonDemo_Drawing_Final

14Oct05_DawsonDemo_Progress

Here’s an attempt at recording the three steps, Tea, Milk and Honey. Apologies for the image quality in these shots.

Marble Head

Here’s the reference image I grabbed off the googles. The assignment the students are doing is ‘White on White’. A classic art school project designed to test a beginner’s abilities. You have to have a light hand, building up tone carefully, or you quickly go too dark. I found it quite tricky myself – as I’m normally trying to push watercolors darker than is natural. For this high key image I had to modify my Tea Milk Honey process to be more like Tea, Tea, Strong Tea :)

As you can see, I’ve ended up with a lot more color than in the reference. I couldn’t help it! At the end of the day, what’s the point of making a painting, if you can’t splash a little paint around. This kind of sculptural study would probably be better as a pencil drawing assignment. I did studies of white eggs and crumpled sheets of white paper as a student. I seem to remember we did it in charcoal. In any case – it’s a nasty trick to pull on a beginner in watercolor! Watercolor is hard enough without trying to be tonally accurate. But – they are illustration students, not mere fine-art dandys and I know from my own illustration work, that precision is important at times. This is just the sort of training you need to build up the hand skills.

~m

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Nandan Balwalli permalink
    October 6, 2014 10:19 AM

    A tough assignment …White on White…as an industrial Photographer, it was always challenging…as one can only play with light and aperture .
    Here you have shades of white which you dress the subject ( paint/tint)…..to Mold ,shape and bring depth….GOOD JOB.

  2. October 6, 2014 10:48 AM

    Great painting. I have become accustomed to working quite dark because I have used a lot of charcoal and India Ink in the last decade. This is a good reminder to (re)train myself in working at the other end of the tonal range. I was taught using the crumpled paper study so I should try that again sometime soon. Thanks for a stimulating and inspiring post.

  3. October 6, 2014 2:32 PM

    Beautiful, Marc! And what a great idea to do a dry run…

  4. Pip Tetlow permalink
    October 6, 2014 3:33 PM

    Marc, this is absolutely beautiful! You are an amazing artist and an inspiration to me. At 60, I am still trying to teach myself topaint watercolors like this. Thank you. :)

    • October 7, 2014 12:35 PM

      Wow, thanks for saying Pip! Always great to hear from a happy reader :)

  5. October 6, 2014 4:14 PM

    I pre ordered your book on Amazon – – I can’t wait until it comes out. Thanks for posting all of this inspirational/instructional content. Jim

    • October 7, 2014 1:02 PM

      Thanks for the support Jim!

  6. October 6, 2014 11:06 PM

    Not easy to do, but you’ve captured a great tonal range.

  7. October 7, 2014 1:11 AM

    Thanks for the lesson! Beautiful portrait.

  8. Gina B. permalink
    October 7, 2014 7:38 AM

    Those Dawson students are lucky indeed!

  9. October 21, 2014 12:23 AM

    wow! Beautiful! Thanks for showing your steps!

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