Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blaukopf Watercolor Workshop

7/13/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Lanaquarelle pad
(primary triad)

If there’s one thing I learned from Shari Blaukopf’s two-day watercolor workshop, it’s the importance of clear, distinct values – light, middle, dark – in a sketch or painting. Contrary to what might seem intuitively true, if you get the values right, the overall sketch will “read” right, even if the hues aren’t exactly what you see.

This hard lesson was practiced with much difficulty in Ballard yesterday. Shari started the day with a two-and-a-half hour demo, during which she articulated every compositional decision and every paint stroke she made. Hearing her explain each choice as she made it was so much more helpful than just watching her in action (which was also very educational; there’s nothing like seeing a master handle a brush with complete confidence).

Seeing and understanding values and then putting them on paper can be confusing when also trying to mix hues, so after a challenging first exercise, Shari gave us a new exercise in which we painted the values in a scene using only a single hue. I found that exercise much more informative in helping me understand values.

7/12/14 watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
(monochrome value study)
Day 2, which was in gritty, noisy Georgetown, started with another demo, this time using only a triad of primary colors. We practiced one sketch using a triad of our own choosing. Although I had difficulty making a sufficiently dark dark using only French ultramarine, alizarin crimson and lemon yellow, I actually found it easier to manage a limited palette rather than having too many color choices. After the afternoon demo using an unlimited palette, we tried our hand at the same thing. The values lesson was a bit easier for me to grasp by the second day, and while the continual traffic noise was tiring, I felt I was finally beginning to “get it.”

Many thanks to Shari for coming to Seattle and bringing us an outstanding workshop!

7/13/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Lanaquarelle pad
(unlimited palette)
7/12/14 watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta
(A disastrous first try at understanding value
while also trying to obtain realistic hues.)
7/12/14 watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
(monochrome value study)

Shari giving a demo in Georgetown.

Thanks for a great workshop, Shari!


  1. Looks like a great workshop, and if that top piece is any indication you nailed the idea she was teaching. I very rarely stop and use a primary triad, but it gives such great harmony to the entire piece. I also like the monochrome of the boats. It captured the values and you can feel the intensity of the light on the water between the boats. Well done, Tina!

    1. Thanks so much, Joan! I learned a lot in Shari's amazing workshop!


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