On entering the studio we immediately got down to work. John had decided we would do a painting in Sepia. Unfortunately, he hadn’t added it to our list and didn’t have much left of his own to give out. Fortunately, another artist had some and this was shared out. This is quite a powerful medium and not a lot was needed.
We drew out the scene and then followed John, as he talked us through building the picture up tonally; starting with some light washes, then adding darker tones. We had to be careful to make sure that areas dried properly; using a hair drier where needed.
Slowly the picture came together and we picked up several useful tips, such as how he did the water on a pond. Again, he emphasised the use of shadows to bring the picture to life. He even walked us through the scene, as if it was real, talking about the people going into the pub and general village life.
Another fascinating session that will prove useful in future paintings and a chance to work tonally without having to worry about colours.
After lunch I decided to leave early so as not to have to negotiate the narrow country lanes in the dark. I arrived at my stop over hotel early and this gave me a chance to finish the sketch of the boathouse I had done the day before. Using my memory and the colours used in the studio, I was able to complete the painting. I even had some paint left, so did a quick painting of the pond at the end of the lane near the studio.
On reflection, this was a fantastic experience and if I decided to attend one again, I wouldn’t be as apprehensive. The hotel was excellent,as were the facilities and food. You could not wish for a better location, especially as we were so lucky with the November weather. The hosts couldn’t have been any more helpful and even the owners of the nearby cottage came and complimented our work. The other artists were a friendly bunch and we all got on very well.
There was a range of abilities amongst the people who attended but everyone learnt something and came away with renewed vigour to carry on painting. It was interesting to see everyone do the same scene but with different results because of their personal styles. I wasn’t used to using a large brush so freely and did tend to resort to a smaller one for better control at times.
Two of the artists had attended one of John’s courses before and they produced excellent results all the time . Others of us found it hard to always get the right colour even though we were using the same mix. It came easy to John, after painting for over thirty years, and even though he told us which colours to use, his experience meant that he got it right all the time. Another artist was working quite small and when switching to larger paper started to really understand John’s style and develop his own.
To sum up a couple of things I would change, mainly to the list of materials sent out. Otherwise, you couldn’t wish for a better tutor or place to stay for a painting course. I was very lucky to win this as a prize and was very grateful for the experience.