Several years ago, I met a local floral designer, Josi Stone, of Wildly Floral Co. Her approach to floral design is one that embraces local flower growers and sustainable practices, with a more organic flow to her arrangements - making them feel like they still belong in nature. I painted one of her arrangements into a watercolor several years ago and realized since I loved her subject matter, so might my students.
With that idea in mind, and everyone getting restless this summer, I put together a 2-hour workshop called Painting Florals in Watercolor. Held in mid-September, each student received their own bud vase with a small grouping of flowers including: a dahlia, a zinnia, a carnation, Japanese anemone, and bridal veil spirea. I set up tables in the backyard and used my patio as a demonstration area.
I began the workshop with a brief, incomplete demo of my flowers, showing my students how I move around a painting, gradually building up from light to dark. Sometimes showing them areas where I move into spaces with intentional darker values to bring out the lighter ones. Throughout that 2 hours, I added areas to the painting as students had questions - such as how to create the lip of the glass, or make the water's edge apparent. We spoke about darkening spaces to create more depth (such as in the interior spaces of the dahlia's petals), and then deciding what colors to use in the background. Each student was also given an easel on which to prop a colored backing board - helping them to focus on the flowers, and not the visual noise in the backyard.
Students brought their own materials from which to paint, but I used the following:
Completed by a student who started taking classes with me over ten years ago. She drove to my home, all the way from PA to take the workshop. She had an ah ha moment when I suggested she add a dark color around the background to try and pull it all together.
This painting was completed at Christine Anderson's home post-workshop. She took at the subject matter and decided to make it part of another painting. Since we met over ten years ago, she's developed her own watercolor practice and now has an Etsy shop.
These two works are by a couple that came together to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary. They happen to also be two very creative individuals in their vocations. Marcia LeBeau is a poet and the founder of The Write Space, a co-writing space. Lee Seidenberg is a photographer and the owner of Exploratory Creative. Nothing says love like a couple who paints together!
Most of the student's works at the end of our workshop.
Most of the student's works at the end of our workshop.
FINALLY, my work, mostly completed after the workshop ended. I hope to offer a workshop like this again, but as we are now nearing the colder months, I'm thinking that a Zoom workshop over the winter might be JUST THE THING.
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Paintings by teaching artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer - 1, 2, 5 and 10 minutes on sulphite drawing paper.
Over the past month, loosening up has been the theme in my adult Watercolor and More class held at Oh Canary. My students have been exploring watercolor through the lens of gesture drawing, without the figure. Figure drawing sessions often begin with short, timed drawings that allow the artist an opportunity to detach and focus, really pushing perception and capturing a lot with very little. Using this approach, I brought in easels to create physical space between the artist, artwork, and asked that they stand and hold their brushes further down the handle, creating more energy and getting away from the urge to be too detailed.
The results have been tremendous - not only in the actual work, but in what it has taught my students. Seeing an object and painting it in only one minute forces you to include only the essential elements. Part of being an artist is deciding what to keep and what to ignore - it's a constant tightrope walk - whether a realist or abstractionist. This is super intense, and energizing at the same time.
My handbag was the subject for this student's first go at timed paintings.
A student painting one of her favorite things from the easel.
Yarn as subject matter.
This student discovered the benefit of adding another medium, water-soluble graphite, to add expressive lines, and emphasize direction, or texture in some cases. Both students at different points decided to return to full-on drawing to get a better sense of the objects' forms. After which they reverted back to watercolor only paintings.
When painting from the object using timed gestures, here are some tips that helped my students develop confidence and the ability to paint loosely:
Along the way we've explored the work of Sujean Rim, Samantha Hahn, and JMW Turner. I've also researched and learned from David Kessler's blog and Bev Jozwiak's article on the Artist's Network, in addition to my own experience running figure drawing sessions and partaking in them myself.
Want to do this on your own? Share it with me on Instagram, @traillworkslessons, and tell me your experience. I'll share it on my stories with my followers!
Enroll and work with me in person - Watercolor and More, held Tuesday mornings at Oh Canary Studio in Maplewood, NJ.
Summer is a great time to test the waters in an art class with me, teaching artist, Jennie Traill Schaeffer, of TraillWorks. I'm offering two classes in watercolor for adults with a flex schedule. Choose to get outside for a Tuesday morning class (Watercolor in the Reservation) or stay inside for a Wednesday night studio class (Watercolor Painting & More). People often come to watercolor with much intimidation. However, I find it's a very approachable medium, and I teach techniques that enable forgiveness. It's a fabulous vehicle for finding a type of mindfulness, or just an artistic outlet that is within reach.
You have the choice of 6 weeks (full session) or a 4 week flex schedule, as well as drop in options. Pricing varies due to the location. Beginners through more experiences students are welcome and teaching is adapted to the individual.
You will learn how to use your brushes, paints, water, and set up for either in the studio or on the road. Not only will you develop techniques and perception, you might also improve your drawing, and ability to compose a picture, as well as color theory.
Not sure if an art class is for you? Here's what a former student had to say about her studio classes: "I wanted to thank you for introducing me to watercolor techniques and giving me this lifelong outlet for exploring paint. You not only inspired me to paint, but my husband and son, too. They'd see me with the set and supplies out so would grab a sheet and jump in. As a teacher the gifts you give your students are truly invaluable!" -Mary V, Student
Now through Memorial Day, save 10% on summer tuition. This applies to 4 week flex and 6 week classes. Use coupon code SUMMERH2O at checkout.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Deemed the Kitchen God's Artist by NJ Savvy Living for my sainted appliances, I'm now known more for my vibrant, meditational paintings of chairs set surprisingly in landscapes. Since relocating to NC from NJ, mothering my two sons, and caring for our rescue pup, Cider, took the lead. Now, that my Durham home studio is renovated it's open again for virtual art coaching and the resumption of my personal art and commissions. The work I make is inspired by my joy of teaching, exploring nature, and traveling. On The Teaching Artist Blog, I share my approach to teaching and educate my readers about my creative process.
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Want to read more from the past? Click here to read archived blog posts from my previous blog on Blogger.