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Watercolor Technique: drawing vs painting approach

Edward Lear, "Abu Simbel", 1867
Watercolor is a versatile medium which is extremely responsive to a personal touch. Each brushstroke is visible through transparent layers and it is also possible to incorporate drawing into the finished painting. Over the course of the Watercolor Workshop, the goal is for each student to develop their own individual approach. We looked at a broad range of watercolor artists, with a focus on landscape painting, to get ideas for different approaches. In order to focus the discussion, we attempted to put each artists into one of two categories: artists with a Drawing Approach and artists with a Painterly Approach.

How would one go about defining these two approaches? That is of course up for discussion, but here are some of the characteristics we looked out for.

Drawing Approach:
- The painting started with a drawing, parts of which may still be visible.
- The foundation of the painting is tonal, meaning if you were to see it in black and white the image would be clearly defined.

Painterly Approach:
- The painting started with brushstrokes, no drawing is visible.
- The foundation of the painting is color and definition comes through color relationships, such as complimentary colors.

Edward Lear 
Edward Lear
Edward Lear
Paul Cezanne
Paul Cezanne
John Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent
Emil Nolde
Emil Nolde
Arthur Dove
Arthur Dove
 Georgia O'Keeffe 
David Hockney
David Hockney 
David Hockney 
David Hockney

Botanical Drawing Exhibition: July 2-3

Please join us for a special exhibition of botanical illustrations created during the Botanical Drawing Workshop. The drawings and paintings on display were created through a process of close observation, both at the Prinzessinensgarten and the Berlin Drawing Room. 

The workshop is inspired by the Naturalists of the 19th century, who were simultaneously artists, explorers and scientists. Through the process of drawing from life, we are seeking to discover what kind of understanding and knowledge can be gained through direct observation. Does it have a different content or quality than knowledge acquired through more passive or indirect channels? Does the process of close observation, even when directed at mundane subject matter such as the weeds of Kreuzberg, yield something unexpected?

Botanical Drawing Exhibition: July 2-3
Opening Reception with the artists: July 2, 2-5 pm
Open for viewing Sunday: 12-5 pm

Location: Prinzessinnengarten
Tiny Haus (the small wooden house in the workshop area)
Prinzenstr. 35 – 38 / Prinzessinnenstr. 15 (U8 Moritzplatz), 10969 Berlin

More about the Botanical Drawing Workshop:
Next Workshop dates: August 10-31
Thank you for everyone who participated in this exhibition, and the you everyone who visited!

Thanks for visiting!

Portrait Drawing Tips

Here are some of the diagrams we looked at in the Drawing Workshop. Although there are hundreds of anatomical drawings showing different splicings of facial proportions, these are the few basic ones I find the most useful.

I would also like to recommend Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," where I sourced a couple of the diagrams below. 

Of course the best thing is to rely on your observations, but these diagrams should help you get started with portrait drawing.

5 Useful Tips for Drawing Accurate Portraits

1) The most important ratio to remember is that the eyes are in the middle of the head. There is a tendency to want to put the eyes towards the top of the head, but this is incorrect. 
Facial Proportions for portrait drawing 
2) For a 3/4 view of the face, the central axis of the face is a curved line. You can imagine this as similar to longitudinal and latitudinal lines on a globe.
Structure for starting a 3/4 view portrait
3) The most common error in portrait drawing is making the skull too small. See the very helpful diagram below.
Cut-off Skull Error
source: Drawing on the Right side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
4) Sometimes it can be difficult to place the ear, when drawing a profile. It just seem to float out there on its own. Here is a measurement that will put the ear in its proper place. 

source: Drawing on the Right side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
5) Use the sighting technique for measuring angles with your pencil to measure the angle from the nice to the chin and from the nose to the forehead. There will be a substantial angle. Not a straight line.

Use sighting technique to measure the angle from nose to chin.

Botanical Cross-sections

Here are some examples of Botanical Cross-section illustrations to get some inspiration for Wednesday's class. 

Please bring a fruit, vegetable, or even a robust flower specimen to class on Wednesday. We will cut it open and make cross-section illustrations, so think about what looks interesting not only from the outside but also from the inside. Some suggestions would be: lemons, oranges, pomegranates, kiwis, bell-peppers, lilies, fennel, etc... Or see the examples below for ideas. 

Specimens are most interesting when you can have as many parts of the plant as possible. Sometimes if you go to a farmer's market or Biomarkt you can find a fruit with a few leaves attached. Or even better, take something from your own garden!

 Here are a few historical examples:

Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-1770)
William Hooker (1779 – 1832)
Pierre Jean François Turpin (1775 – 1840)

 Examples of Botanical Cross-sections from the Botanical Drawing Workshop 2015: