Art in Process

“Drawing is the backbone. It is no good having a lovely sense of light and color if there isn’t the firm foundation underneath.”       Alexander Creswell

This weekend was spent in Terri Myers Wentzka‘s studio paying attention to drawing and developing a composition for a future watercolor. It was a wonderful weekend with lots of personal attention and learning along side the other participants. Terri paints beautifully and her drawings are awesome.

During the Friday through Sunday workshop Terri  took all of us through a short bootcamp for drawing and then led us through the process of developing a composition for a watercolor painting. I am always humbled by the hard work of preliminary planning and the process that takes place before the palette is taken out and the brush hits the paint. The weekend reminded me how many shortcuts I take in the process…and should not!

The workshop began with a number of warm-ups. Drawing with the non-dominate hand, drawing observed values on the surface of an egg, bones, and many other drawing techniques in-between.



The next step in the process was to select three objects and draw them into a number of compositional thumbnails and develop one of the thumbnails into a more completed value drawing. The objects that I selected were a model of a crow, a branch and a shell.


The thumbnails were varied but I was curious about one composition and decided to develop it with more observational drawings in my sketchbook.

elements for composiiton
elements for composition

Terri then had us draw each object onto tracing paper. More play with overlapping and shifting the elements with more experimenting with possibilities. The process was starting to focus my intent and the “story” that I wanted to build into the painting.

My final step was to create a value painting. Although the value study for the composition had many possibilities I saw even more. My final painting will have adjustments to the size of objects, color, values and the position of the crow.

Value painting of composition
Value study  of composition

A lot of work on process this week-end and a great reminder how important the creation process is to painting. The weekend was devoted to imagining/generating, planning/preparing, incubating/focusing/, developing/making, refining, and evaluating/revising. It was a weekend that re-emphasized what is so basic and yet easily overlooked. We often have an eagerness to just jump in and hope it turns out. Creative process adds a deeper level of confidence and is open to play and experimentation.

Good lessons learned this weekend!