For me the symposium could not have possibly started in a better way… I wasn’t teaching first up so was able to join the workshop of Behzad Bagheri.
Workshop A: The joy of the movement (of learning) from simplicity to complexity (in sketch)
To say that I am a fan of Behzad’s work is an understatement! So it was a real highlight of this years symposium to meet him in person and see him in action and …of course do his workshop.
These are all the pages that I did during the workshop… a little crazy in terms of output but most of all, I really got what I wanted from it as my ‘takeaways’
In summary the workshop involved playing with line and shape and composition. Creating compositions from our imagination out of lines or shapes of paint on the page. We even swapped work with the person next to us and developed their blobs of colour. And then finally we used a random composition of colour and shape as the basis for one part of the scene in front of us.
It was such a refreshing and inspiring way to loosen up and work with more complex and interesting shapes. To break out of the mode in which we normally work… and therefore a perfect starter for an event like a symposium.
To be honest, I found the working from my imagination really challenging… I was so much in the groove in terms of responding instinctively to what was before me that I found it very hard to tap into my imagination. … Perhaps attempting to do similar exercises in the comfort of my studio will be easier for me. Also I am not a great student… I am always wanting to jump ahead, to not do the exercise at hand but try to work out in advance how to implement the particular idea into my own work. It didn’t help that I was getting more excited by the shapes and the crazy pigment interaction of my initial washes than the thought of completing the exercise!
We had a great group and there was some incredible work done during the 3.5 hours. It poured with rain a number of times during the workshop but we had shelter with views so didn’t bother us at all. We also had a dog join the workshop!
So here are a few comment on the pages that I did and what I got out of the workshop (and I am hoping that it is in line with the learning goals that Behzad had in mind!)…..
Our first paint composition was to only use the three primary colours… I was having fun putting plenty of paint and water on the page and letting them run. I then realised that if I turned the page upside down I had this amazing shapes and chinese roofs. I did not want to develop this composition any further – wanting instead to preserve these interesting forms – shapes that I would never create by design.
Similarly the next exercise when we could use whatever colours we wanted. I liked the shapes and the pigment effects and was scared to do anything further.
One more… using two of my favourite Daniel Smith paints- Transparent Red Oxide and Indanthrone Blue… just look at some of those crazy textures. You can see that I was getting carried away with pigment excitement… and thinking about how to get this kind of painting in my normal work.
The final exercise: we had to find some part of the scene in front of us to fit into the composition of paint we found on the page.
Sadly I made a mess of preserving the white in the middle of the page but was amazed by how the crazy shapes did in fact relate more or less to the trees and the bulky form of the church in Matriz Square on the other side of the river. Some of the watercolour textures in this work are amazing… how did I achieve them?
Ok… technically the workshop exercises were over but I wanted to quickly do two more….
1. First I wanted to re-do the Matriz Square painting and be more careful about preserving the white. Of course this composition is a lot more planned than the first time. I was putting the random strokes of colour down in more or less the places I wanted them. I was certainly more and more excited about this approach… but wanted to do one more final version that was a step closer to the way I work….
2. Looking briefly at the white church (yes Marc’s church again!) I tried to get a feel for the main masses – where the white should be, the rough shape of the trees and water and then without looking at the scene started playing with paint. Then I picked up my pen and looked at the scene again and started working it up. Oh ah! loving this approach!
Thank you Behzad for what was truly joyful movement of pigment on the page for me!