By Jane C. Michael
Participants: Hilary Davis-White, Karen Ensor Brown, Deanna Gillum, Martha Reynolds, Louise Braddock, Nancy Maunz, Brenda Beatty, Laurie Goldstein-Warren, Debbie Lester, Linda Walker-Roberts, Christine Rhodes, Brenda Beatty, Ina Armstrong, Claudia Giannini, Linda Elmer, Judy Reed, Jeannine Romano, Julie Read, Rhonda Albright, and Jane C. Michael.
This year’s WVWS workshop was held at North Bend State Park from August 1- 4, and was advertised as an opportunity to create abstract paintings, led by Rita Montrosse.
On the first day, Rita introduced the concepts of design and construction. Her well-prepared handouts featured a step-by-step process to guide artists and assure success. For many of us, abstract paintings are outside our comfort zones. By leading us through a concrete process beginning with pencil drawings, Rita showed us her technique of “abstracting from a drawing of multiple objects.” These sections were then iterated to create a potential design, which led to a final choice for the painting.
One of the first day’s highlights was the distribution of The Southern Watercolor Society’s exhibition catalog featuring the participants and winners of the recent annual exhibit. West Virginia is in the region covered by the Southern Watercolor Society, and Rita Montrosse is our state representative for SWS. The Winner of the 2019 Southern Watercolor Society’s Best of Show was sitting in our workshop: Laurie Goldstein-Warren. What an honor to be learning alongside this talented member of our group!! We painted with focus and intention. Supper at 6 and back into the studio by 7. Most of us finished by 9 p.m., earning the right to a good night’s sleep.
Day 2 started promptly at 9 a.m., and like the previous day, we approached the next task with excitement and enthusiasm. Thanks to the staff at NBSP, we were well-nourished with coffee and snacks throughout the day. Workshop Chair Judy Reed kept everyone’s interest by distributing gifts from corporate sponsors and drawing names for door prizes. Outside class hours, the weather was ideal for members to enjoy the deck outside our room or go for a hike.
Our second day’s lesson was entitled, “Abstracting from a realistic drawing or photo…” Using our own reference photos, Rita demonstrated how we could view our scenes in abstract ways and create interesting new dimensions. Part of our instruction included the application of various papers and gold leaf to enhance the values.
Today’s lesson was entitled “Abstracting using repetitions of forms, shapes or objects…” The weather was glorious, and we were all full of enthusiasm for a new application of the techniques. Armed with tissue paper, gold leaf, hand-made papers, stencils, foils and other avenues of creating texture and interest, we set out to create a masterpiece! We do not disappoint as one after another our paintings are unique, and myriad designs emerge.
At 4 p.m., President Debbie Lester called to order a meeting of the WVWS and for one hour, we planned the coming months’ activities.
At 9 p.m., some painters were still pursuing the illusive “perfection.”
Day 4: As we prepare to return home, Rita captured our prizes in her camera, and we anticipated her critiques. Her beneficial comments provided suggestions for ways to improve and enhance. One can hear sighs of relief and delight to have achieved a sense of capturing beauty in new and unusual ways. The future will tell if abstract art finds its way into our design portfolios. The outlook is positive!
Safe travels, everyone.
Please see images from the workshop below, and those who have taken photos are welcome to submit them to Kristen Colebank to add to this gallery. Thanks, Jane, for writing the workshop journal, and Laurie Goldstein-Warren and Jane for sending photos.
Click on any of the images to see them larger and in a slideshow format.