The Florida Watercolor Society Convention & Myrna Wacknov Workshop

www.kimminichiello.comMyrna Wacknov showing us her work on Yupo.

It’s been a busy few weeks!  We moved our daughter back to college and the day after I drove to South Florida for the Florida Watercolor Society Convention.  This three day event is one of the highlights of my whole year.  If you would like to know more about the convention you can read last year’s post here.  Aside from the wonderful demo’s, done by some of the most talented artists working in watercolor today, and the Trade Show where great deals on supplies are always to be had, which can be a bit dangerous, the highlight is always seeing friends and meeting new ones!

This year I also took a workshop with one of the two instructors that are invited to do a four day workshop prior to the convention.  One of the instructors is the judge for the annual exhibition, this years judge was Frank Webb.  He is a Dolphin Fellow of AWS, American Watercolor Society, and turned 90 last week!  The other instructor was Myrna Wacknov.  I have followed Myrna’s blog for a number of years and admire and appreciate her style and techniques, many of which are considered “out of the box” for traditional watercolorists.  That is what I love about her work, I like the “there are no rules” in watercolor approach.

Notan selfie created on my iPad

We started the week by learning about some apps that can be used on the iPad to manipulate photos, to use for reference photos for our paintings.  The main one was Photoshop Touch, which is essentially a scaled down version of Photoshop you can use on a digital device.  I often use Photoshop on the computer to design and compose paintings, which I then paint  from on my iPad.  I like knowing now that I can do some things directly on the iPad.

We took selfies and the manipulated the photos in Photoshop Touch to create a Notan and some grey scale images which were used as the reference for the three paintings we did, focusing on shape, line, and value.

Collaging over painting done in life drawing session.  Sorry Stephanie!

Selfie over mid tone collage background.

The first painting was done by creating collage papers in a plethora of ways to use as a mid tone valued background for the selfie (self portrait) on top.  I could see where this collage paper making could become an addiction!  I don’t do much figurative work other than life drawing once a week.  So between that and all the other surfaces we created to paint on, I was way beyond my comfort level, but it was a blast!

Selfie on Yupo

The second painting was done on Yupo which is a synthetic paper.  I had never used this before and can take some getting used to.  I’m not a convert, but could see painting on this occasionally and experimenting with it a bit more.  I think artists that like hot press paper like this surface, the paint stays and sloshes around on the top and doesn’t really soak into the paper. I’m a cold press kinda gal.  A few artists that I feel are very successful with Yupo are Julie Ford Oliver, Helen Beacham, Taylor Ikin and Carol Ann Sherman.

Selfie done on textured gesso surface over ink drawing.

The third painting was done by creating a textured Gesso surface to paint on, and then using line by emphasizing the face with a line drawing with ink before painting.  It was funny with all the supplies I packed for this workshop, I felt I was bringing  most of my studio, I didn’t bring a quill pen or an oiler boiler (plastic bottle with a fine needle tip)  to draw with.  I improvised by using a black Prismacolor Pencil and dipped it into my ink bottle like a crow quill pen.  This  one ended up being a sort of stylized version of me.

The two paintings aside from the Yupo were done on older watercolors, sketches from life drawings or dogs from the drawer.  With these techniques you would never throw away old paintings or paper, but would recycle them into new work! One of the many, take aways I got from this workshop.  With the limited amount of time to do so many things, I don’t feel these are quite finished but are good starts that still need some tweaking.  This was my first attempt at doing self portraiture so overall I’m pretty pleased with the likeness!  If you ever have a chance to take a workshop with Myrna don’t miss it.  She is a wonderful, engaging teacher and you learn things that go beyond the ordinary in watercolor that may take your work to a new level.

Myrna’s demonstrations from the workshop

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The Florida Watercolor Society Convention in Sarasota

Frank SpinoMy friend, Frank Spino with his Painting, Orange Crush, Frank is also the cover artist of Splash 14

What and amazing weekend!! I am so honored and proud to be a member of the Florida Watercolor Society!  It is 970 members strong and there was an attendance this weekend at the conference of over 500.  It is the only watercolor society in the nation that makes an event and conference around the annual exhibition. Here is a brief run down of how it all progresses.   The week before the show,  there are 2 four day workshops given by a variety of well known artist.  One of the workshops is always given by the judge of the show.  Last year workshops were given by Nicolas Simmons and Soon Y Warren.  I was thrilled Nick chose my piece to be in the exhibition, and his workshop was amazing.  This year’s workshops were given by Linda Baker, the judge of the show, and Mike Bailey, former president of the National Watercolor Society.  This year a third one day workshop with Sue Allen was offered too.  These workshops are optional, very popular and they usually fill up very fast.

Me and Jorge

My friend Jorge Leon & Moi, next to his painting, Waiting for You, Congrats to Jorge who got his FWS Signaure Status this show.

On Thursday evening, after the workshops conclude the judge of the show gives a keynote talk and demo.  Linda Baker’s demo was wonderful.  She is such a sweet person and I was intrigued to learn more about her painting technique which involves more masking and pouring.  Then Friday the fun continues…. a full day of demonstrations given by a wide variety of artists in the conference rooms as well as the trade show.  There is so much to do and see, you can’t possibly do it all.  It’s hard to pick and choose!  This year I attended demo’s given by, a roster of amazing Florida artists which includes:  Janet and Steve Rogers, Pat Weaver, Karen Braverman, Lynn Ferris, Sterling Edwards, Teresa Kirk, and Jamie Cordero.  Mike Bailey also did a demo on Saturday.  There are also expert panels, and talks on marketing and showing your art, and digital critiques, given by painters who are very well known in our field, who have painted, taught and judged shows for many years.

Janet Rogers

Janet Rogers giving demo at Cheap Joe’s Booth

Did I mention trade show?  A whose who of the art supply world is there, Cheap Joe’s, Jerry’s Artorama, giclee companies, local art supply companies, and representatives from all the regional watercolor societies.  All giving great deals and discounts so that we can stock up for the year!  The president of Daniel Smith also attended the conference.  I was thrilled to meet and get to know Joe Miller, Cheap Joe.  He is the kindest and sweetest person that does so much for us artists.

Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey starting his painting in the Paint Around

Saturday bright and early I volunteered to help with the Paint Around. Five artists prepare a drawing and reference material, each start with their painting but every 10 minutes, the paintings swap easels!  Every artist works on each other’s paintings.  You end up with your own at the end to finish it.  You never know what’s going to come back to you!  All the paintings are raffled off with many of other raffle items and prizes that take place throughout the weekend and raise money for FWS.

Lynn FerrisLynn Ferris Demo

Saturday is similar to Friday, more demos, trade show, plus a digital critique given by the judge, who goes through every painting accepted into the show, explaining why they chose it and what they liked about it.  I also had a chance, for a fee,  to do a half hour critique, one on one, with this year’s judge, Linda Baker.  I did not get into the show this year, and it was a great opportunity to really know why and put the speculation to rest. I could submit 10 of my paintings for her to review.   My take away from the meeting was basically it was the subject matter I chose to enter this year.  Looking at my portfolio there were three paintings she would have chosen had I entered those! You can never second guess what a judge is going to be drawn to.   She also gave suggestions for some small improvements that would make some paintings more appealing to a judge.

Theresa Kirk

Friend Teresa Kirk with her painting, Scorpion VII, this painting also won an award in the show.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to have a 10 minute meeting with the editor of Splash, Rachel Rubin Wolf.  She looked at 2 of the paintings Linda did, and I found it curious that there were elements in the paintings that she questioned that Linda liked and vice versa!  It just goes to show that there is no right or wrong, what one may be drawn to another might not.  Don’t be discouraged to enter shows and competitions.  The judges vary with each and eventually one will click with your work!  The main take away  from a number of judges I have heard talk on the subject of jurying shows and what they are looking for  is,  design and composition, emotion, emotion, emotion!, hand of the artist,  creativity, and lastly technique.

Karen Braverman

Karen Braverman Demo

The weekend concluded on Sunday with the general meeting and a presentation by Rachel on her role as editor of Splash, her process and what she is looking for as she chooses artwork for publication.  The same rules apply as getting juried into shows, but differ too in that she is putting a book together and is focusing on what looks good on a page, versus an exhibition.  And of course, her own tastes and preferences factor into the final selections.  When it comes down to choosing between two outstanding images, it can be like splitting hairs!

One of the best parts for me of the whole weekend is seeing friends, making new friends, and being with hundreds of people that have the same passion you do!   Now, it’s time to get busy and paint!!!!!

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Lori Putnam Demo

I was very fortunate to attend a demo given by plein air painter Lori Putnam during the Women Painters of the Southeast Annual Exhibit opening festivities.  Lori is an extremely dedicated and hard working artist and her passion for painting shows in her work.  She is also one of the nicest and most sincere artists you could ever hope to meet.  During the demo she painted a painting from a plein air sketch she had done on a recent “painting snow” trip to Wisconsin with Dawn Whitelaw,  and she also had many inspiring words of wisdom about being and artist and how she got started on her journey.  (Note:  She had the photo to her right on a screen just for us to see the scene she was painting.  During the demo, she referred to her actual plein air sketch, to create a bigger work.)

There were 2 take aways I have been pondering in my mind since the demo.  One is to think about the purpose of your painting before you get started.  Are you wanting to emphasize form, light and shadow, light and dark patterns, line, color?  The painting she did in the demo is a relative value painting.  Essentially just 3 values and how you make them relate to one another.  There is a lot to think about during the painting process and hopefully part of that process will be intuitive  but, to start with a plan of what you are going for instead of just haphazardly starting to paint resonated with me.

Lori was also the judge for awards for the show, which I can imagine must be a daunting task with so many great paintings to choose from for a select few.  She said while viewing all of the work she was “looking for paintings that had not been painted from ego, but from the soul.”   I have heard this same idea, not exactly in these words,  from other judges too.  If we try and paint from that place where as Lori says, “soul” or our personality is reflected in our work and we feel we have achieved that it in the work we show, maybe the judges will feel it too.  Something to think about.


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