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Bridget Woods "Towards Abstraction" demonstration, 20 October 2006

Some information about Bridget's activities can be downloaded (as a Word document) from:
Life Drawing Techniques DVD
This was not a demonstration in the usual sense, since Bridget did not impart much in the way of detail about her materials and technique. Instead, it was a privileged view of the creative processes of a gifted watercolour artist as she worked out her approach to realising, with no pre-planning, her impressions of two contrasting landscapes: East Head at the entrance to Chichester Harbour and Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire, the link between the two being erosion.

East Head is a low lying spit of land gradually being turned into a small island by the action of the sea, while Brimham Rocks owe their remarkable forms to the action of glaciers during the Ice Age.
She began by doing a charcoal sketch of East Head to work out the composition and followed this with a pastel drawing to introduce the element of colour. Then, using these sketches as reference, she started watercolour painting on Arches 140lb rough paper which she thoroughly wetted in controlled areas before applying colour, her aim being to achieve the impression of softness (in both colour and form) to reflect the inability of the sand to resist the action of the waves.

She created a point of tension in her painting by her use of contrasting hard edged, hard coloured features to depict Man’s influence on the scene in the form of a carpark and the presence of groynes.
Bridget used similar steps on the way to her painting of Brimham Rocks, but here her aim was to give the impression of the overwhelming ruggedness of the rocks for which she used heavy dark colours and hard edged shapes with the final touch of a small representation of a figure to emphasise their massiveness.

The resulting paintings were beautiful impressions of their still- recognisable subjects hence the talk’s title: “Towards Abstraction”.

In his vote of thanks, Graham Scandrett referred to Bridget’s bravery in allowing the Society to witness her approach to making a painting from the absolute beginning of the creative process.
The evening marked the first outing for the Society’s new video equipment. A raised screen will improve the view for those towards the back of the room and some refinements of camera orientation would avoid the head-cocking needed to obtain an unskewed view of the work in progress, but on the whole, the video system showed great promise, and certainly enabled an improved view of the artist’s working, especially as Bridget was using a horizontal easel which otherwise would only have been seen by those few in the front row. [Brian Richardson]

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