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Gerry Seward "Pen & Watercolour" demonstrations (29/11/2002, 8/4/2005 and 5/5/06)

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5/5/2006, Reflections

No notes have surfaced from this demonstration but the photos tell their own story. The evening was obviously great value-for-money since Gerry dealt with several specific topics before getting down to the main demo.

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8/4/2005 - webmaster's notes

Gerry had started with three or four photographs and a sketch and had ther resulting pencil drawing waiting for us on the easel before the start of the demo.

If he hadn't been under the pressure of demonstrating he would have made a a much more sketchy pencil drawing and let the uncontrollable mixing of the watercolour washes have more effect on the composition.

After settling the audience with the usual personal reminiscences about the wonderful stock in his shop and the way he was using a more and more limited palette (he blames the need to become more monochrome on failing colour discrimination as old age creeps up), the demo started.
Gerry sees no need to be a slave to convention - there are no laws to stop one from mixing media, using white or other opaque paints in "real watercolour" etc.

He started with a wet wash of naples yellow (for light) right down the centre, so that sky was reflected in the water. This was bracketed with washes of warm orange before the rest of the picture was filled with blue, except for a couple of little bare patches where he wanted contrast.

A useful tip, that orange, by the way - the redness stops the blue and yellow mixing to form a green sky, despite taking the first weak blue wash right over the still-wet yellow
Then some rough patches of reds, yellows and browns appeared before pens started to be used - thicker in the foreground and finer (softer) in the distance.

No effort is made to be too precise with the pen. Gerry likes to have a textured paper for pen and wash so that the lines are broken and of variable width - the last thing he wants is to be accused of "painting by numbers".
By coffee-time shadows and secondary colours were being introduced.

After the break came the departures from old conventions. Red sand, FW acrylic white highlights and seagulls (they don't really come in groups of 3 or 5), pen again strengthening of edges, Neocolor II to brighten up, sea-weed-hung ropes, rigging, more shadows to reinforce the direction of the light.

. . . . until time ran out and it was deemed to be finished. Thinks: "It's a pity his mount cut out the posts on the left".

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After a bit of implied publicity for the next day's workshop (" Workshops are better for you than classes") Gerry started with a basic pencil sketch - a bit more detailed than he would normally use because he wanted us to see where he was going. The sketch (houses, boats and trees) was based on sketchbook items from different places. It was to be a three-step demo: w/c, pen, w/c.

Watercolour was put on - very loosely - with a flat brush and a running commentary: "Even brick houses get bluer as you recede" . "Put a very dark bush behind the centre of interest to give contrast" . "Darken the edge of the sand along the water-line" . "We need more dark here, a wash of colour there", until it began to look almost like a finished painting. After an hour, coffee break time, everything was left to dry.

Then the pen - Staedler is the fashion now instead of Edding. Thicker in the foreground and don't overdo trees and bushes. Make features of watercolour accidents. Hint at bricks and stones. Break lines to add interest.

Then back to watercolour: dark purple shadows; windows darker at the top; be brave and paint shadows boldly over roads and up buildings; put whites over with Neocolour 2 water-soluble wax crayons (available in you friendly local art shop) which allow you to avoid the rigidity that masking fluid requires.

Photos below

  . . . and the following are from the next day's workshop 

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