Greg Allen Watercolour Demonstration Saturday 21 May 2022
It was great to have Greg Allen return to Whitehorse Arts and show his inimitable watercolour skills and energetic personality again. Greg is an internationally renowned artist, taking tours to exotic parts of the world and selling his works in galleries in the major cities. He has won prizes in the most prestigious competitions and is a member of the Twenty Melbourne Painters, a most exclusive group of artists. We are well aware of how good he is and were proud to have him back. He too loves us and loves to show us his wares.
Today he would do a scene from his home patch, the Mordialloc Creek, which is a harbour for many boats and the scene of an historic boat building workshop that Greg has immortalised in his prize-winning paintings. He had taken a photo for his reference.
But first he gave a few pointers about his favourite medium, watercolour. He showed in two brushstrokes the different effects you can get by working on wet versus dry paper. You have to analyse your subject to decide whether you want hard edges or soft.
Applying this to his photo he discussed parts of the picture which would be light, which dark, vague or sharp, cool or warm. You move from light to dark , from background to foreground, so from sky to the boats in the water. You discuss this in your mind before you start.
Once you do start you make each stroke once and get it right. No going back over, adjusting, correcting or fiddling. The aim is a looseness when seen close up which becomes realistic at a distance. A good watercolour has a freshness about it. To get a colour right first time have a scrap of paper at the side to try out on. Most important. Also have a separate brush for each colour.
So the sky was done in seconds and not touched again. Next in lightness was the water, which mirrors the sky in colour but is a fraction darker. If the sky is a graded wash, say from blue to yellow, the water will be the reverse, from yellow to blue. Reflections too are mirror images of what causes them.
Greg is very scientific in analysing the effects of light on a scene. Uninterruptedareas such as roofs or treetops will be light and bright.
Verticals, such as the sides of buildings or boats will be much darker and the colour less pure in hue. He is a great teacher who tells you not only how to do it but why it works that way.
Moving to the boats which are hard-edged, you do them on dry paper, except where they meet the water if you want them to sit in the water and not look like cutouts. He emphasized that if you can’t draw boats you must practise. Be a better and better drawer. How? He diverted to show a basic drawing technique. It is a bit like the star constellations. Dots at each turning point, lines between. Measure your object by finding a unit, eg the width of the back of the boat and asking the boat, “how many backs long are you?”
His humorous lively personality came to the fore when he pretended to be hopeless at drawing masts on the
boats. He made the task a bit easier by turning the board and going horizontal. Vertical is shakier.
The final result was most realistic from a distance but up close you could see all the marks that he had been talking about. Simple when you know how. Thank you Greg!
Greg was a Whitehorse Arts tutor at Silver Grove and is now available to teach at the new Hub. Contact him on 0431 700 624.