"There are no failures-just experiences and your reactions to them" (--Tom Krause)
Sadly, my watercolor workshop with Ted Nuttall is now a fait accompli, but I came home feeling much as I'm sure everyone in the class did--inspired to practice and put into play some of the things he taught us in class.
Ted had instructed us to come to the workshop armed with some black and white photos suitable for portrait painting. I found some interesting photos that, in all honesty, were probably not particularly appropriate for what Ted would have wanted us to paint from, in terms of values/tones for portraits, but they appealed to me in terms of images. They were "fuzzy" enough that I thought they might keep me from being so "tight" in my work, and I thought they might force me to be looser. Joe had some great genealogy-related photos that I was amused by, and I wanted to have at them. This is one of his distant family members, "Gertrude Contois," and I just smiled when I saw this get-up and her attitude in this photo:
I get very frustrated because if you have any kind of "eye" at all, you'll recognize that my drawing itself is sadly lacking and "off," but I still wanted to give it a try. As you can see, this is not portrait material, but it is a figure, and the image appealed to me. (Anyone who paints at all will recognize what I mean when I say that that is pretty critical--to feel a connection to the image if you want to paint it.)
Well, I became pretty quickly disgruntled with myself when I felt I had made the shadow shape in this image very "flat." (One of the visceral things that appealed to me about this image in the first place was that the shadow shape was wonderful, and I thought if I did this "right," I could capitalize on that in the painting.) It didn't take me long, after I got at it, to feel I wanted to hang it up and start over again. Ted Nuttall was very kind and told me to keep at it. I will keep at it, but I may use this as my practice round, and once I learn what I don't like that I've done here, I may try the same image again and see what I can do a second time. I think I can do better. (Below, Ted Nuttall working on a demo painting for us in class--how lovely is this?:)
Here are some further workshop shots of Ted's paintings in progress:
and another beautiful Ted Nuttall painting in the works, where Ted is laying down initial washes:
My painting will still need a lot of "building" and I'll see what I can do with it, but I learned a lot, even if it feels like a failure in terms of my initial "vision." I am learning how to tackle those demons and plod onward...I did learn a lot in this class.
I really do hope that anyone who is interested in learning watercolor painting will investigate Ted Nuttall's work--and take a class with him! He is a born artist and teacher, trust me...
"The only real failure in life is the failure to try." (--unknown)