Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ken Kempley watercolour workshop

Rain storm.
Yesterday I attended a one-day watercolour workshop led by the inspiring artist Ken Kempley. The workshop's aim was to cover watercolour basics. Whilst I use a lot of watercolour, especially as pen & wash, I wanted to do a course to fill gaps in my knowledge, identify technical errors (e.g. I didn't realise I broke my continuous wash line even when concentrating on achieving a single stroke), and to get some guidance on watercolour painting. For me, I hit all my objectives for the day as I learnt a lot, got some good results, and as a bonus had some fun doing so.
Ken instructing on laying washes

There were only 5 of us on the course, which meant we all got a lot of Ken's attention. He has a very friendly approach to tutoring and demonstrating, explaining and showing things clearly and concisely, whilst he is not at all patronising (as a few of my college tutors were).

We used Saunders Waterford Watercolour Paper 640gsm (300lb) rough surface throughout the day. It doesn't need stretching, can be used for acrylics too, and if practising can be used on both sides. We started off with learning about laying washes and building up tones. Using only indigo we all came up with good results.

Indigo tones.
Next we chose our own subjects and all got lots of 1-to-1 attention from Ken. I produced the pretty morning mist picture. The others liked it, but whilst I'm pleased with the techniques I learnt and applied to produce it, it seems to me to be just a pretty picture.
How to hold a brush for clouds.
Note to self: must remember to pay attention to the fact my brushstrokes tail down at left if I am not careful.

One of the other gentlemen had produced a very dramatic sky, so that's what I tried to do next. I think it is my most successful picture, which is why it is at the top of this post. With the last hour, I laid the washes for another landscape, which I hope to manage my time to finish before I leave the UK next week.
Morning mist over marshes.
I made lots of notes throughout the day as Ken is full of tips and advice such as using hair conditioner once or twice a year on your brushes, which also came with a self-effacing quip as he is totally bald, but a great way to remember it. Favourite quote "Artists are like children, they have problems with their greens", said as Ken advocates mixing from blues & yellows rather than having pre-mixed colours. (Anita- I evicted the Viridian from box replacing it with a half pan of Terre Verte last week). Favourite quote: "Paint like you".

My day's work.
As I said at the top of this post, I found the workshop fulfilled all my objectives for the day. Ken is a fabulous tutor and I would recommend attending one of his workshops to anyone in the East England area. All in all a great and successful day.

Please check out Ken Kempley's website, I think his abstract landscapes are amazing: