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This week, I am living a second adventure outside of my comfort zone. I am taking a workshop with Pat Dews, an award winning American artist that started off as a realistic watercolour painter and is now an abstract and mixed techniques painter.

I signed up after taking a previous workshop exploring Abstraction in May, which I enjoyed so much and thought this would bring my art forward.

I meant to share my thoughts every night when I got home but found myself too tired and drained by the time I sat down at the end of the day. Let me tell you the experience is novel and quite tiring. Fun, yes, but speed of execution, noise and lack of space were difficult to deal with the first 2 days, not to mention working on paper which I never really did before.

So here is what I learned so far. I summarized each day with one main idea I felt needed to be integrated completely to move forward. I heard these main ideas before, we’ve probably all read about them, but now, they were demonstrated to us in quite an enlightening manner.

Here is my take on the workshop so far and what I learned:

Day 1- On the first day I learned that I have to look at the world in terms of SHAPES, first an foremost, Small, Medium and Large shapes. You need the 3 kinds in your painting.

Day 2- On the second day, I learned that “It is only a piece of paper” (or a canvas), it’s not the end of the world! I knew that already but it finally sank in. Don’t worry, relax and enjoy the ride and if you hate the result, don’t lose sleep over it, cover it up tomorrow. We were told to make a failed painting on purpose, to put anything any which way on a piece of paper or a canvas, so that we could rescue it later, to get rid of fear, you know, that fear of failing.

Day 3- Today, I learned that you can go beyond a failed painting and make it good if you keep working at it, especially with acrylics. Cover it up, change the focal point, make up shapes, don’t get discouraged and go with it. Invent, create, do anything and think composition. The possibilities are endless! A lot is about attitude. Don’t worry so much about it, don’t give up !

Here are a few tips:

1- One of the most important thing is SCALE – make sure not everything is the same size and that your shapes are not too big or to small for the size of paper or canvas you are working on.

2- In abstract, you must show depth by overlapping your shapes, so overlap what you want to come forward, decide what you want to come forward.

3- Texture adds a lot to a larger shape: add grids, use wax paper, newspaper, saran wrap, texture, texture, texture your larger shapes unless you want it to be an absolute quiet space.

4- Make the eye travel through your painting by using leading elements. One dot can add a lot

5- Use a picture for inspiration if you want, but look for shapes, not details.

The “Failed painting” concept:

A very interesting few days indeed ! Here is a work in progress I started with putting yellows and reds any which way and that I had used to protect my table while painting a previous smaller piece, in order to create a “failed painting”.

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Second stage on my failed painting, trying bland colors to put over the yellows and oranges. You can use white chalk to plan the next stage.

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Stage 3 of the failed painting, I gessoed over most everything, sprayed and textured, it’s starting to take shape and I really love the patterns over the mauve-blue on the left side. How do I keep this while creating harmony?

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Step 4 of the failed painting. It is starting to look better and better, more variation of shapes, more contrasts but not finished yet . It is no longer a failed painting !

http://www.suzannebelair.com

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