Thursday, 8 April 2010

Dubai workshop - Painting Portraits in Watercolour

"When I grow up, I want to be......."

Recently I held my first workshop in Dubai. Yes I did say first! No one can hold workshops without having a first one, although I do teach on a one-to-one basis.

I was very fortunate to be visiting two wonderful friends in the UAE, Chris and Pat Southcombe. Chris is a professional artist and Pat a retired Art Gallery Manager. They organised and arranged everything for the workshop, so I knew everything that needed to be done, would be done professionally, and all I was left to do was teach.

Although I know there is still so much out there for me to learn, I am at the stage where I am comfortable with my art to teach others, although initially the idea of doing this to a class full of students was a little daunting. I thought on the years of being a retail manager and holding meetings, along with a few, but very valuable words from Chris, which I will always remember and suddenly put me at ease.."Just be yourself"

I visited the art centre the day before to get a feel of the space that had been given to me, and to organise the room. My main thoughts were that of the students. That they enjoy the day, be inspired when they leave, and have learnt something new to take away with them to experiment with, so they too can move forward with their art. I thought long and hard on this and recalled the few workshops I had been to, what worked, what didn't. I was fortunate to have recently been to a workshop by Trevor Waugh, and learned a lot from his way of teaching. I wanted to achieve that balance of showing them how to, by doing demos, along with time to work on a one-to-one with each student continuously as they set off to try what they had learnt, stepping in with the next demo when needed. This turned out to be very successful.

The morning of the workshop saw us up at 5am and on the road to Dubai by 6am. This meant we avoided any traffic delays from Sharjah to Dubai. We arrived at 7am, 2 hours before the workshop started, making sure we were well prepared for anything the students may have forgotten. Extra paper, water pots, paints, brushes, rubbers, everything in fact that one needs at a workshop.

Students arrived on time and set up their equipment eagerly awaiting to start. We started the day by working on preparing their drawings for the portraits. I then did a small demonstration on painting daises loosely, explaining what I was doing and why. The students then spent 15 minutes just loosening up. There was a lot of laughter as most of them hadn't painted my way before. This helped to relax everyone before starting on their large white clean sheet of paper.

I had decided it would be easier for everyone if we all painted the same image. I had pre drawn and we produced large images of the photograph for those who were not confident in drawing, to be able to trace it. Unfortunately we had not time for  portrait drawing lessons, and the aim of the workshop was to paint a portrait in watercolour.
Everyone gathered around my table and I started a demo of a portrait from one of my own photos of my grandson Isi. My first demo was to paint the portrait starting with an overall wash of colours. I worked so far then they all went off to have a go. This was followed by demos on how to paint the features. I then showed them an alternative way by starting with the eye and painting out from there. This was very well received.

The end of the day came round far to quickly. I was so pleased that the students had a finished portrait to take away with them, and some even went onto a 2nd one. The enthusiasm was wonderful to see and be part of. I had produced a step by step guide for painting eyes, a colour chart for skin tones and a colour properties guide for them to take away with them.

Everyone had a wonderful time and I know I certainly did. I have received nothing but positive comments from all the students, along with being asked when I will be returning to do another workshop.

* * * * *
I owe a very special thanks to two wonderful friends, Chris and Pat Southcombe. They played a very large part in making this happen and the whole day very successful, fun and professional. This I shall always remember and be forever thankful for.

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