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A Transformative Watercolor Workshop You Couldn't Afford to Miss! Fortunately, We Didn't.

This March, we stepped into a world of watercolor where each stroke of sable brought paper to life. Wendy Artin's bold watercolor workshop pushed the dynamics of light and color through expert guidance and masterful technique.


Watercolor workshops with Wendy Artin

March 9 & 10, 2024 at the Arts Students League of New York


Earlier this Spring, approximately 25 artists took one or both of Wendy Artin’s two-day watercolor workshops: morning, the Figure, and afternoon, Still Life. Wendy’s art, which you can see on her website (https://www.wendyartin.com/, best illustrates the power and beauty of her watercolors. During the workshops she showed us many of her paintings as well as her paints and brushes; she interspersed demonstrations throughout the days and walked among her students while giving instruction or stopping to make individual comments. 



Wendy uses a small sable brush with which she can control the mark and the amount of pigment and water; she uses a flat brush with clean water to soften or change an edge. She started the first morning by illustrating these techniques with her brushes and asked us to practice making a mark, varying the pressure of the mark, and softening the edges. A word she used for mark-making was calligraphic, putting down a mark with one stroke. She further illustrated the meaning of calligraphic by gesticulating freely with a flair of her arm and a swoosh in the air. 




As we practiced her mark-making technique, Wendy set up the lighting to accentuate the shadows on the model who held amazing poses for 30 seconds, 1, 2, 5, or 10 minutes. Wendy demonstrated how we were to paint the model, painting only the shadows to slowly and magically reveal the form. Her figure was so sparse and calligraphic and still entirely descriptive. She said that if you get the shadows right, the form and volume of the figure will somehow emerge. We had the opportunity to fill many pieces of paper with our attempts to capture the form through the shadows. After Wendy’s demonstration of a wet-on-wet technique, we had 20 minutes to give that a try. While the pigment seemed to flow all over, the flat brush could be used to adjust the edges, almost like an eraser. The result could elicit a mood or be a bit of a mess. All a learning experience.


For the afternoon workshop, Wendy arranged the tables in groups of three, each with lighting to create dramatic shadows in the middle. She invited us to choose from her copious supply of strawberries, radishes, radicchio, eggplant, brussel sprouts, and leeks to set up our own still lives. Again she showed some of her paintings and demonstrated her technique by painting a strawberry. Adding color in the afternoon workshop (the figures were all done with one pigment) created a new challenge. We needed to consider our compositions carefully and pay attention to the shadows, observing their shapes and sizes. For a wet-on-wet painting, Wendy used a mixture of lamp black and ultramarine to paint the shadows first which she described as an underpainting.

 



We loved doing both workshops simultaneously as it was a perfectly rounded watercolor experience with a master teacher who also happened to be an especially attentive and kind person. Moreover, at the end of the workshop, Wendy took photos of each participant with their favorite paintings. A few days later she sent an email to each of us with personalized critiques and encouraging words. Above and beyond.



If you like Wendy Artin’s work and have a chance to take a workshop with her, you won’t regret it. 


Brigitte Bentele and Judy Finkelstein

3 May 2024

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