Thursday, 10 July 2014

Willie Schlechter Course - Kirstenbosch Molteno Library

Article and photos by Wendy Burchell

From lt to rt: Jenny Pharoah, Heather Gaspar, Willie Schlechter, Wendy Burchell, Sue Abraham, Helen Meyer, Helen Estcourt. Seated: Olwen Gibson.
In response to requests for more practical courses at BAASA we invited Willie Schlechter, bronze medalist at the 2013 Kirstenbosch Biennale, to give a three day, botanical water colour course at Kirstenbosch Molteno Library.

Despite icy weather, we attended each day with enjoyment and enthusiasm, and learnt so much from Willie's techniques and approach. He reinforced principles we have learnt from Vicki Thomas and others and gave us some extra tips which helped enormously.

We started with a forty minute exercise of drawing our chosen plant in pencil, without looking at or lifting our pencils from the page - a wonderful way of making you look carefully. The resulting drawings were not lifelike, but beautiful marks on the page.

In the next exercise we could look at our drawings, but couldn't lift the pencil off the page.

We drew our plants straight onto Arches HP paper (if brave enough) or drew and then traced onto Arches paper using a light box. Beginners and experienced artists were excited to start painting on the first day, with several, pale washes of cadmium lemon, then cadmium yellow. Emphasis was placed on blending the washes well, leaving out the highlights, but blending them into the surrounding colour. Allowing the paint to dry between layers was essential. Adding more pale washes of "local colour" green, then grey shadow areas (mixed from three primaries only) revealed some lovely, leafy branches. By the third day of painting we had all produced good likenesses of our chosen leaves. A perfect three days of painting, sharing ideas, water colour paints and friendship.

Below are some of the works produced.


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