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)
Two nights down for Ted Nuttall's watercolor workshop at Cheap Joe's in Boone, NC. (One of my watercolor portrait attempts, above.)
I like to challenge myself when it comes to painting, but it's amazing how hard we are on ourselves when we are learning something new. Of course, seeing Ted in action is nothing short of amazing, and so it's hard not to feel inadequate next to his unique, impressionistic portraits that seem to glow from within. I'm a huge fan of his work.
Here he is in action:
His "sloppy dots" of color are his trademark, but when he does them, they are luminous, abstract shapes that describe the personality of the subject in his own signature style. Here are some of his paintings in progress:
His portraits are stunning and intuitive pieces:
I tried my own hand at "sloppy dots" but could not leave them in the face itself--I did see how he uses them for specific purpose in many areas, and to help draw the eye throughout his works, but I just felt like I had created a circus clown, so mine is pretty hilarious looking. (see below:) Hey--it's a first attempt, and I will have to practice and just go for it when I get home...
A workshop is always great because it stretches us and makes us take those journeys WAY outside of the box. "The key to change...is to let go of fear." (--Rosanne Cash)
Well, it's been a very busy period here, and now, I am heading off on my vacation.
It's back to Boone, NC, and the mountains for me, for another watercolor workshop. I'm very excited to have the opportunity of observing Ted Nuttall paint. His work is beautiful: mostly figurative and portrait work. Here are a few examples of Ted's paintings.
I've been absent from my blog recently as well, and for that I apologize. I just returned from our annual Work Retreat, this year once again at the Duke Marine Lab on the coast, in Beaufort, NC. I'm sharing some photos from the Marine Lab with you today: it's a stunning locale at the southern end of the Outer Banks of North Carolina: The Marine Lab is a beautiful setting, and I don't get down to visit those folks often enough, but when we have our retreat there, I am struck once again by how fortunate I am to work in such a wonderful environment. The Marine Lab has been around from the 1930's, and it's a fascinating place with all sorts of amazing research being conducted there and throughout the world. The folks studying at our Marine Lab are right on the water, with access to numerous kinds of boats that they can use recreationally as well as for research and study. Some of them travel all up and down the eastern coast, (such as the "Susan Hudson" below) and others span the globe.
I had hoped to get some time to do some sketching, but alas, I haven't had time recently, so I'm sharing some pretty photos instead! Below is the lobby of the Duke Marine Lab "Repass Center," which is their Leeds Gold-certified "Green" building, and on the walls, where you see fish art work, even those are creatively fashioned from re-purposed surfboards:
I always think the term "Marine Lab" is a bit of a misnomer, because it's really its own mini-campus, with a typical college quad, as well as dorms, a library, academic buildings and a dining hall. It's right on the water, in a serene locale. From some shores, you can look across and see wild ponies! It's really an idyllic spot. (Adirondack chairs on the back deck of the Repass Center, overlooking the water:)
Here is a photo of a typical dorm at the Marine Lab:
and here is the Dining Hall:
and an open quad area:
(I don't know about you, but it always makes me want to go back to school and become a Marine Biologist when I see this place!) Here's where we parked ourselves outside for lunch yesterday:
So even though I'm heading to the mountains this week for my workshop, I'll have fond memories of the beautiful waters and the peaceful oasis that housed us this past week:
I'll hope to have some watercolor activity here soon, but in the meantime, I'm excited that I'm off to learn!
A big thank you all again so much for all your thoughtful words regarding my sister and father. Claudia has finished her first round of a chemo cocktail, and she's moving onward to a 12 week round of Taxol in the next stage of her treatment. Please keep her in your thoughts... My dad, thankfully, continues to improve. I really appreciate all your kind notes to me. A bientot, friends! (with accents, she says, not having a clue how to do that!)
Some of you may be aware of the "portrait party" that's going on over at flickr right now. One submits a photo of oneself, and in turn, selects someone else's photo from the pool of photos and dashes off a portrait of that individual.
Flickr folks are so talented, and I'm totally unworthy, but I couldn't resist when I saw Jennifer Lawson's sweet photo of herself in a fabulous chapeau. It's a quick sketch I did over a sandwich at lunchtime in a grid-moleskine book, but it's just about the only sketching I've had a chance to do recently. Bear with me. I'm hoping to get back at it very soon. Jennifer is so much more attractive than this, and one day, I'll attempt her again more seriously.
Graduation for Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment is this weekend, and things will ease up a bit after that.
I want to thank everyone so much for all of your kind thoughts and warm wishes for my sister and my dad.
Claudia is doing well, and very strong: she has her 3rd chemo treatment today, and she walked in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women in NYC last week. She raised over $1400 for cancer research. She's had some tough days, but she's maintained her good humor, and refers to herself now as "Cueball Head Lady" since she's lost all her hair now:
My dad has had his share of struggles after his bypass surgery, but he is working hard at getting better. I appreciate all your kind wishes for my family.
This Sunday is Mother's Day, and I'm thinking of how lucky I am in the family I have and the mother I had.
Don't forget to call your moms if you can, and tell them you love them.