National Women’s’ Register
Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 2.30–4.30pm
The Athenæum, Bury St Edmunds
Water Colour Workshop by Tina Bone
(Tina’s Fine Art UK)
“Ernie…and we had the fastest Art-Class in the West”. Well, East actually! A Fellow Iceni Botanical Artist, who had volunteered to run an Art Class at the National Womens Register 60th Anniversary celebrations, found she had double-booked herself and asked if someone could help out. I jumped at the chance to perform my second tutorship. I said “Yes” before really finding out about it and was a bit shocked when told the class would be for two hours only.
The theme of the workshop had already been fairly settled (Breckland Flowers), so I capitalised on that title and came up with: “Breckland Flora and Elementary Water Colour Art Workshop”. The main reason being that, in two hours, the teaching had to be elementary.
Setting thoughts to paper I came up with the idea that a full-on worksheet, distributed to the students before the event, would be the right way to go, and promptly set about composing it. Then I suddenly remembered that in February there are no Breckland flowers—what a dampener. So I turned my attention to the fact that we could use photographs instead (unacceptable if we were doing a “proper” botanical painting).
I studied the list of botanical paintings which had been published in the Iceni Botanical Artist’s book: Breckland Wild Flowers, Heaths and Grasslands*. I just loved the beautiful and delicate little harebell painting and decided that this would be a good subject for our two-hour, fast-painting-session. The artist had several lovely resource photographs which she allowed me to use and she also lent the original to me to put on display on the day. (*Advert: Books can be purchased from: Jarrolds, Ceres Bookshop in Swaffham, Brandon Country Park, and from the IBA website)
So, with a quick look-up about the (most interesting) Brecklands themselves, the resource photographs, and some very quick working drawings and colour cards I managed to concoct a programme which I thought could be carried out by multi-artistic students and myself in two hours. Click HERE to download the pdf worksheet, in the hope that it might be of interest to budding artists.
I was literally gobsmacked by the beautiful work that resulted after just two hours—it was a wonderful experience, and I thanked the students for attending. Below is a little timepiece I have put together of the workshop progress, and below that is a fuller version of events if you prefer to linger here longer.
Here is a little slide show of the day’s events. It is easier to see if viewed full screen.
And here is a bit more information about the whole day:
On the day, it was good weather (after a real threat of snow!); suddenly my husband decided he would come too—but only because the golf course was closed!! He valiantly packed the car for me (all equipment and materials for the day were supplied by me) and off we set. The workshop was due to start at 2.30pm; we left at 11.15am. This was a good thing because when we got there the streets were closed and the satnav took us on an unexpected route. As we were going down a narrow street “she” suddenly said,”You have reached your destination on the left”. All we could see was a big archway that led into a hotel. But I could see the Angel Car Park through the big archway, so instructed husband to back up and we drove through it! (Got our hand smacked because apparently that was for hotel guests only and not visitors to the Athenæum.) However, we managed to meet up with the organiser of the event and her husband in the car park who very kindly helped with carrying all the gear up to the first floor. It was an extremely good thing that hubby did come purely because the Angel Car Park is a short-term one, so he was able to drop off and pick up—although he did get lost before finding his way to the proper car park!
I had limited the workshop to 10 students because I only had equipment and materials for that number and we ended up with a very pleasing 9. After setting out the workstations hubby had arrived back and we sat and ate our sandwich lunch, but with the beautiful aroma of a wonderful cooked three-course meal being eaten by all the ladies who attended the event which made my cheese sandwich taste very dull. But refreshed and raring to go, hubby set off to savour the delights of Bury’s old town and gardens (he does like walking, as he does it a lot round the golf course) whilst I demonstrated my skills to the 9 ladies, who appeared to be glowing with contentment after their beautiful meal and morning talks, and were now ready to try their hand at water colour painting.
I had a planned checklist for when to do what, but threw all that out of the window because people like to ask questions, and I have to remember what I am doing, and it always takes longer to do something than the time allocated, and that gets worse as one gets older…so I just played it by ear.
First of all I talked about what we were aiming to do and mentioned that it does not matter if mistakes are made—”Screw it up and start again, but most of all enjoy yourselves”. I hurriedly showed them how to draw and trace their drawings onto good paper, using the pre-drawn work-cards I had done and moved on to showing how to put paint to the paper after they had completed their drawings. I even showed them how to cut out a tracing element by using a lightbox (although none opted to use it). They all drew lovely harebells; some traced my drawing provided in the worksheet, others drew from scratch by using the photographic resources, others again made up their own compositions and some just traced the photographs. So lots of different types of drawing, but all achieved good results.
These 9 remarkable ladies, some of whom had never picked up a pencil or a paintbrush, showed that an awful lot can be done and learned from a 2-hour session. Every student produced a beautiful piece of artwork, even progressing to the painting stage (although it helped that I had mixed the blues and greens beforehand).
What a day! It took ages to fit all the gear back into their respective boxes and load up the car again, and I suddenly felt very tired. Hubby suggested that we go for a meal in one of our favourite pubs on the way home, so that I did not have to cook our usual evening meal. Of course I was grateful for that and ended the day with a delicious steak, ale and mushroom pie at the Square and Compass pub in Great Shelford. We arrived home around 8.45pm and, after watching an episode of “Shakespeare & Hathaway” (or rather some of it because I kept falling a sleep), I slinked, very happily, off to bed before 10.30pm!