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Pen and ink wash workshop at Compton Verney Art Gallery

Compton Verney Art Gallery regularly run courses of various kinds, and I signed up for this one after attempting my first watercolour a couple of weeks ago. It was a leisure course and was good fun - I learned a bit too!

The idea was to do some botanical painting from life and make a few Christmas cards. The day course from 10am to 3pm was £60 and included unlimited coffees/tea, biscuits, a pack of blank cards and a drawing pen. It was very well organized and the staff were extremely welcoming. There is a cafe for lunch and of course the galleries to wander around after the course had ended. The course was in a dedicated artists studio with plenty of space for about 20 people.

We started with an introductory talk and were given handouts with help on creating a composition from the huge variety of things collected that morning from the Capability Brown landscape that surrounds the gallery. There were fungi, leaves, berries, pine cones - all sorts as you can imagine - and a collection of dried Christmasy things such as herbs, spices and dried fruits.

After arranging the bits we'd garnered, we set about drawing our collections in pencil directly onto the watercolour paper. We used a cut out frame to help get the scale and placements right. (See below). There was plenty of help from our tutor who also gave demonstrations and individual support.

The next step was to ink in the outlines, going over our pencil marks with a steady hand, and using a handout copy some of the marks such as stipling and cross hatching to add a small amount of shading. There were no shadows or base ie a table, drawn in.

A light watercolour wash was added after wetting the paper (wet-in-wet technique). The paints, brushes etc which were provided were artists quality.





I really enjoyed switching off for the day, and trying something new, and would certainly try another course if one caught my fancy. I can recommend Compton Verney as a venue (no affiliation).

The most useful thing I took away? To draw a leaf by doing the veins first not the outside shape. If you put the veins in you can easily draw round them to get the shape. Perhaps that sounds obvious to you but it was a first for me and helped a lot.

6 comments:

  1. I've been studying a lot of different ways watercolor artists approach their work and have decided I really do like the look of inked outlines as you've done here. It had not occurred to me that shading could be added in ink before adding the watercolor. Also, I'd not run into that tip about drawing leaf veins first, but it does make perfect sense. I can see transferring that idea to free-motion quilting, where I often struggle to get the leaf shape right if it's not drawn on the fabric. You have a couple of very lovely cards out of your day of switching off. Love the torn edges. :-)

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    1. Thanks ib, can't wait to have another go. For me the difficult part was the pen as I wanted to approach it in the same way I would in a drawing, but less is more in this case. Plus you have to take care to make your strokes directional - and there's no rubbing out!!

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  2. I also had never heard to draw the veins first, but it is a brilliant idea. I love how your cards have a etched feel. I think it is the pen work and is fabulous. Thanks for the tip and the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks Jeannie, always good to try something new. I found the pen bit difficult and was too heavy I think - a smaller pen nib would help I think.

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  3. I love what you did in your class. Those are ready to frame, how cool! Continuing education (what we call it here in Texas, maybe all the US too) is a huge part of our community college system. Of course our local art league offers classes too. With your talent, you get a lot more out of them than the average person, I think. I know I have actually discussed this with adult students and there is a fear barrier that has to be crossed. I bet you no longer have that. You're like, let's do this! Thanks for sharing your experience and product, xoxo.

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    1. Thanks so much for the positive comments. Lots of galleries run workshops at a very reasonable rate. They're often just taster sessions to get people involved in the arts and are a great way to try something new. I hope to do more next year.

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