Tuesday 21 May 2013

Charles Reid at Stow - Day Five

Friday, the final day of the workshop dawned with much better weather, although as we were indoors this didn't matter. The subject today was the much anticipated portrait/figure session and the model was Jane, who I had first seen modelling for Charles in 2007, on my very first workshop at Burford. I gather she has also done so subsequently. I have a photograph of the painting Charles did on that occasion, which is one of my favourites, now owned by our organizer Jane Duke. You will note it was combined with flowers and other objects, quite a different approach from today's painting.

 Jane at Burford in 2007

Jane at Stow in 2013

Charles began with a faint outline creating a silhouette.  He then made the head smaller and drew the hands which he does very carefully, where things intersect. Charles took regular breaks as much for Jane's benefit as his own. These are about every 15 to 20 minutes. Charles is very solicitous for the models well-being constantly asking if she is all right, and to some amusement initially kept mixing her name up and calling her Mary.

With the face start with the eye and check position, using these as a starting point for the nose, mouth and chin. Check the corner of the eye with the face, the other side with the hairline. The next key problem is the length of nose which students often get wrong. Don't make a hard line of the light side and stress the upper line of the nostril without making it into a black hole. Use mouth for the distance to the hair. At bottom of chin go to the neck making the chin line faint and subtle. Keep losing lines by erasing.

Note this is an accurate but not detailed drawing- quite loose in fact..

The initial loose washes. Plenty of paint and water using an Escoda 1212 Kolinsky sable size 14. This is larger than any I have and I was able to examine it between breaks. It is a lovely brush and I'm sorely tempted to invest in one (I just have). In general the equivalent Da Vinci Maestro Series 10 is roughly two sizes larger, but comparing the diameter of the No.14 brush heads is only fractionally wider, while costing 50% more. I don't have a length comparison but I doubt there is a lot in it.

The painting has now dried before Charles moves to the next step.

Started detail changing to the Da Vinci Maestro 35 size 6, I think the number is different in North America, which is longer and slimmer (and more expensive) than the Series 10. Charles stressed that you shouldn't do the eye as a solid block but in pieces, placing paint. He adds green and Raw Umber, Cadmium Red at corners, over the top Cerulean and a little red, but not on the upper lid. He works wet in wet with up and down strokes then the eyebrows.. Don't overstress under the eye. Don't stroke - press the brush, Soften edges as you go. Edge control is really important. He restates quite a lot.

Next the nose painted with Cadmium Red and Raw Sienna. No blue in the nostril just a dot.

Under the nose and indicates mouth with light wash. First step the centreline - don't make too dark! Constantly softens and corrects.

The mouth is completed then the lips and chin. Stay away from sides -stay in centre. Starts on chin, softens adding red and brushes away from it. Don't leave a pronounced chin line.

A start on the hair and hat. Note they are painted as one shape and not separated. Don't fill out the hair leaving an escape route. Use the same colours under the hat brim  and paint out into the hair. Colours mentioned here Ivory Black and Burnt Umber.

Further work to define the hat.

Charles used a minimum of strokes (5) for the hair/hat and said more screws it up! Small final touches as he reviewed painting. Some white gouache was added at the end, although looking at the painting it isn't obvious where. He always says don't spend too much time on the hair, although in this instance the hat and hair are combined as one large shape..

The sequence above shows the final result.

This was a fascinating session and you could hear a pin drop most of the time, although Charles constantly explains what he is doing and why. We then broke for lunch and unfortunately as it was Friday and nearing the end  four of the students departed, as they had long journeys and connections to make. This meant only thirteen remained for the afternoon session. As the weather was somewhat better I went down to a fish and chip shop I'd noticed called Greedys and bought some  for my lunch. They were excellent and I enjoyed them sitting on a seat at the area where Charles first painted outdoors.

 I realise these notes are a little rough but it isn't easy to  write down or remember everything. I hope nevertheless that they convey the gist and flavour of the demonstration.

When we reconvened at 1.30.pm the students sorted themselves out position wise and began to draw and paint the model. As it was my turn on the front row this carried over to the painting session and I was able to position myself closer to Jane and also only slightly to the side. I think this gave me a considerable advantage over some of the others. I shall cover my efforts, and explain why I wasn't able to photograph other student paintings, in a final post in the next two days.

For those who are interested in Portraits the Charles Reid way I recommend the  DVD `Figurative Watercolours' (APV Films 2012). Portraits feature in many of his books but the ones that stick in my mind are his final book `Watercolour Solutions' and `The Natural Way to Paint'. Both can be obtained from Amazon and some other booksellers.


Ray Maclachlan Art said...

Again, Peter, an excellent report - so detailed. The magic Reid touch has not been diminished by age, even if Charles mixed up Jane's name at times. Thank you Peter.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for your kind comments. It makes doing it worthwhile as it is quite a task.

Paul Shenton said...

A wonderful portrait and great walk through

Peter Ward said...

Welcome Paul and thank you for your comments.

Unknown said...

Hi Peter,

I have been following your blog for quite some time now and have finally decided to come out into the light. This whole week's narrative has been absolutely fascinating although being a tremendously demanding effort on your part I'm sure. Today's episode has it all! The dramatic excitement and blow-by-blow account of CR's quite brilliant portrait as well as the outdoor munching of fish and chips and a quiet moment of reflection. Travel writing at it's best; I enjoyed it all but didn't have to deal with bad weather, pack a suitcase or pick up a paintbrush :) Can't wait for tomorrow's installment! Many thanks and best regards to you.

Peter Ward said...

Hi Kevin and thanks for commenting. I get a huge number of page reads but not that many comments so I often wonder about that.
It has been very demanding and actually Day Five was the end of the workshop, but one more post will follow in the next two days reflecting on how things went and covering my individual experiences.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Marisa. It has been an exhausting week completing the reports.
As for Judi I haven't heard anything recently but will make some enquiries.

Bohlen said...

Nice you´re posting so sincerely. Sure you are a true watercolour afficionado. It is a pleasure to follow your blog. And it is nice of you reminding me of Charles Reid.
Please go on taking fantastic workshops and let me participate somehow. Especially citing what the instructor said gives this "live" feeling.
And i love your paintings. And your critiques on your work: "i like this one though i´m looking as if i am just chewing a lemon..." Charming. The one i liked best was the indian in "shadows".
Looking forward to your next post

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for your kind comments Maike. I try to write in an as down to earth way as possible and recreate things as they are. I hope I succeeded.

Unknown said...

I really like the loose way you have painted this portrait, lovely colours and a really good likeness.

Peter Ward said...

I've just noticed your comment Brenda. Thanks for those kind words.

Margaret McCarthy Hunt said...

Wonderful post. I have sat at the Masters elbow in awe as he skillfully twitches his paintbrush. Lucky me! And I went back for four more classes. Miss him and his lovely wife Judy. What a light he was.