Watercolor Workshop: Figurative Design – Character Development
Level: Advanced beginner, intermediate, advanced.
About the Workshop:
In Jeannie’s Figurative Design Watercolor Workshops, she aims to act as a mentor and inspire artists to create character in their figurative work. Jeannie shares her painting application and spontaneous thoughts and stories that guide her design process and style. As a student, you are encouraged to be imaginative about the people in your reference photos and to study their expressions, body language, surroundings, and interactions. You will hear about intuitive design and composition, the versatility of pigment/water ratios, intentional and spontaneous marks, use of titanium white as an additional pigment, and the freedom to change your mind.
Projects will explore eyes and faces in an unconventional way; focus on a single figure with an obscure background; and intertwine a group of people with their background elements. Students receive plenty of personalized attention and critiquing to enhance their journey as an artist.
The following projects are loosely described to help you choose reference photos.
Face Project: Every face has a story
Approach the face as a work of art versus a traditional portrait. Look for photo references that denote demeanor. This project will have you working on 3 individual faces simultaneously. Reference the same face or three different faces. Your choice of paper size but draw large so the measure from the chin to hairline is a minimum of 8″ or fill a full sheet.
Single Figure Project: Obscured backgrounds harmonize with body language
Simplify facial features and focus on spontaneous brushwork to allude to the subject’s attitude, action or persona, body language or movement. Drawing a single figure you will replace scenery with obscure linear design, shapes and brushwork. Draw face size larger than 3″.
Group of Figures Project: Strength in numbers
Intentionally connect, intertwine or separate your subjects of 2 or more to show a relationship or non-relationship with one another. Background objects, scenery or obscurity should play a supportive and purposeful role to the subject. Draw face size larger than 3″ if possible.
Works in Progress: A painting revisited – is it really finished?
Bring along a few of your paintings that you are willing to continue painting on. Select pieces that are in progress or you are struggling with or even paintings you think might be finished.
Student Material List:
The following supplies are considered essential; a few are noted as very helpful.
- Photo Reference: Students are to bring their own personal photography or other acquired photos and snapshots as painting reference. Include posed and un-posed faces, figures, and groups of 2 or more. Look for emotion in eyes, gesture or movement in figures, interesting groupings, and background elements. Include photos of people that you don’t know but if you do know them pretend that you don’t! Photos of adults may be preferred over children.
- Paper: Cotton/100% rag artists’ watercolor paper such as 140 lb. Arches or other known brands. Single sheets of quality paper are preferred over watercolor blocks. Sheet size is your choice and can range from full to quarter in a rectangle or square format. A variety of paper surfaces such as hot press, cold press, or rough are helpful.
- Pigment & Palette: Watercolor pigments; If your palette contains only transparent and semi-transparent pigments please bring some semi-opaque and opaque pigments along. Choose pigment colors and brands that suite you. Include titanium white watercolor pigment. Use your normal palette or consider a large palette such as a Robert Wood as helpful. Squeeze fresh pigments into the wells or reconstitute the pigment already in your palette with water.
- Brushes: Use your normal brushes if you are comfortable with the results or bring a few flat brushes to experiment with, your choice of brand. My FLAT brushes are – 1″, 1½” and 2″ Robert Simmons SkyFlow Flat (white bristles).
- Worksurface: Your preference; a board slightly elevated about 6” on a tabletop or a floor easel.
- Magnifying lens: Optional: A magnifier called a linen tester or a loupe, 1″ 6X magnification, is very helpful to see detail in printed photos. Some artists have their photos on an iPad instead.
- Please bring a painting or image of your work so I can see your style, very important.
Artist Motto: Lose your fear by imagining your piece is going in the trash!