I've been desperately seeking a watercolor teacher for a while. But it's been tough finding one I can relate to. One who lives in my city. And yes, that's New York City, where you might think they'd be lurking around every corner. Oh well. Instead of taking classes I've watched online tutorials, read how-to books, and just generally taught myself. And for the most part my efforts have paid off.
Except ... sometimes I get a nagging feeling that something's missing. That my work needs just a little extra something to make it really sing. A wow factor, if you will. That's why I jumped at the chance to take a plein air workshop with Sam Adoquei, my teacher from my National Academy days. It was such a privilege to study with him back then, and I'm thoroughly stoked about doing it again. Not only are Sam's paintings exquisite, but he generously and expertly shares his vast knowledge with his students. He's a great teacher, and if anyone can give me a heads up, it's him.
The workshop started this week and help was immediate. First Sam explained the elements of a well-designed composition. During the workshop we'll be breaking down and practicing those elements one by one. Sam also got me combing over my old work to see how my compositions could be improved. What a relief to get some answers!
Below is a watercolor that I painted last week, before the workshop began. There are things about it I'm pleased with, including the way that the top of the red maple tree is lit up by the sun as if in flame. It was thrilling to witness that miracle of nature on a busy Manhattan street, and my aim was to capture it on paper.
Still, I wasn't totally happy with the result. After Sam's lesson I can clearly see that the overall design of the painting could have been better. For example, the lit and shaded portions of the maple tree are nearly the same size and shape, and even the shaded green area beneath is quite similar. It would have been more interesting to vary these shapes and sizes for a more balanced composition.
That's just one thing I would have done differently. But there are so many things artists need to consider when they compose their paintings. I'll be learning about more of them this summer, and share them with you. I'm psyched!
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