by Bill Hudson
For artists, watercolor seems the perfect medium to mimic life. It is a challenge; we’re never in complete control. But, we’ve learned that taking a risk often yields surprisingly great results.
For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve taught a watercolor class in Laguna Beach each Monday in January. From October to April about 20 experienced artists gather in a Methodist church hall overlooking the Pacific Ocean to meet with several instructors who rotate each month. The group has been meeting for decades.
Our class begins with a critique of recent paintings brought in by the artists. I then paint a one-hour study from my reference photographs. That demonstration includes discussion of composition, materials, approach, technique, etc. After demonstrating, I hand out those photographs and the artists begin creating their own work.
Each class challenges me to present something new, yet interesting. For that reason, I am grateful to have spent two weeks in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest during the peak of autumn color this past October. With hundreds of spectacular photographs, I began the first class of 2023 with a review of techniques I use to represent trees, with particular attention to deciduous trees in full color. We discussed wet-in-wet, wet-on-dry, various brush capabilities, sponges, casein, masking fluid, spattering, watercolor pencils, salt, granulation, and Brusho.
“Brusho? what is that?” they asked. Since I had discovered Brusho only recently myself, I expected their response. So, I brought four small containers to class… one each of blue, green, yellow, and red. Brusho is a highly pigmented watercolor ink in powder form. It is acid-free, non-toxic, produced in 32 colors in England since roughly 1987 by Colourcraft. It is very concentrated and messy. Therefore, to help control the application of each pigment, I punched only a single thumbtack hole in each container lid. After demonstrating the effects achievable with Brusho powder applied to either wet or dry paper, I invited the class to give them a try.
The class began painting while I cruised the room to observe progress and answer questions. Everyone seemed busy painting autumn landscapes in traditional impressionism and realism. . . until I approached a new member in the class. . .Tracy. Tracy stood smiling over her painting, completed in less than an hour by abandoning all conventional techniques in favor of 100% Brusho. And it was spectacular! The rest of the class stopped their paintings to view and appreciate Tracy’s effort. One of those artists whispered to me, “Tracy always tries something new. She’s fearless!”
Yesterday, in spite of stormy weather, the entire class returned with their completed paintings of Pisgah National Forest. Here are a few. Note: Most were covered with clear cellophane bags for rain protection. My quick photos failed to eliminate the glare and do them fair justice. Sorry.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these or future paintings, please contact me and I'll put you in contact with the artist.