Well, after six month’s of mounting anticipation and fevered practicing – my week of painting with artist and Edward Wesson expert Steve Hall finally arrived. My first ever course of this kind, I was excited and apprehensive. And now, looking back, I’m finding it difficult to condense the experience into a single post. What I would like to say though is that the course, and the experience of painting solidly for four days was absolutely brilliant. After weeks of rain, and my expectation that most of our week would be cancelled due to adverse conditions, we were blessed with four days of clement weather. I met some fabulous fellow painters and greatly enjoyed and benefited from seeing a professional artist at work and have him offer his personal opinions on my efforts and advice so that I might improve.
Instead of providing a blow by blow account of my week (which would take me at least another week to write, and even longer for you to read) I’m going to make a list of ‘notes to self’ based on the advice, comments and suggestions that I received and that I need to pay heed to in the coming months as I try to develop my painting. I’ll begin with the recurring theme, after which I’ll add things as I remember them:
- Colour mixing. This is the single most important aspect that I need to focus on. Steve’s view was that I’m overmixing in the palette. Too many colours, overly mixed leading to muddy colours.
- Let colours mix on the paper more, control them, but let the colours create their own magic, apply two colours side by side and let them touch and merge, instead of thoroughly mixing a colour in the palette.
- Pay close attention to the lights and darks, wrapping lights around darks and darks around lights – look for the areas of greatest contrast and plan my painting around them.
- Hold the brush higher up the handle – mark them with some tape if necessary as a reminder
- Try counting how many brushstrokes a painting takes. This was one of Steve’s suggestions that I really like the idea of. It’s not suggesting any kind of optimum number – but more as a means of making sure every brushstroke is meaningful rather than hopeful dabbling
- Touch the paper only as much as is absolutely necessary
- Don’t extend my easel legs all the way! I’ve been doing this automatically but it means that my board is usually a little too high with the result that I’m often painting in a constrained fashion, from the wrist rather than more freely from the shoulder.
Now as I’m sure the more discerning among you will have noticed, there’s a theme throughout this list. It’s funny writing this little compilation down like this – it makes slightly more desperate reading than I think is the case! It is however a great to have this little checklist of notes to self – some of which I expect to be much more difficult to adhere to than others.
I’ll leave you with just a few images from the week, and expect more may follow in future posts, but I hope that this will give you a flavour of the experience. If anyone else is considering or debating on taking a similar class – I can thoroughly recommend it and I can thoroughly recommend Steve Hall too!