Thursday, July 8, 2010

GCWS July Meeting: Marlene Steele, guest speaker

This months GCWS Meeting was graced by local artist and teacher, Marlene Steele ( Marlene teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati's Community Classes, UC DAAP, Evergreen Art Center and in her studio. She received her degree from the Art Academy. Marlene is a member of the Cincinnati Women's Art Club. Marlene likes to paint with watercolor, colored pencils and pastels.

I was excited to hear her speak on Working with the Figure in Watercolor. I took drawing classes from her approximately 12 years ago. I enjoyed her class very much and tried to soak up everything she taught me.

Marlene went over her brushes, palette, paper and other various tools that she likes to use. All the while she told us about Jack Meanwell, whom she fondly called her mentor. Marlene said that through him she began figurative work in watercolor. She was into exploration and was more into volume than perfection of a painting. Marlene used conte' crayon and watercolor paints as her tools to draw the figure.

She encouraged us to get reams of cheap paper so we too could explore watercolor more fully.

Marlene talked about color mixing and her palette set up. She places her warm reds and yellows on the top and down the right with the blues on the bottom and up the left side of her palette. (see picture on the right) Marlene uses two of the same size brushes  to begin her painting.  One brush is for cool colors and the other is for warm colors. Her colors were fresh so she used more pigment and very little water to paint with. Marlene used a damp brush to lift out areas. She lighlty laid in her color to keep the value light and build the shadows with washes.

 Marlene talked how thumbnails can be helpful in organizing and/or re-directing a drawing/painting. When she is beginning a drawing session with a live model, Marlene does quick sketches in increments of 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, etc... whether it is charcoal or watercolor. She explained that this keeps you from getting tight.

Another tip she shared was to assign or find the shape with your brush as you lay the color when sketching. If you look closely to the picture to the left you can see the shape of the muscles, shadows and highlights on the figure she is painting. Marlene said, "Shadows make everything happen, shape the light."

Listening to her brought back memories of her class and a yearning to take another from her.


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