09 October 2013


Before getting into the day, I have to mention Bandouille hospitality and the gustatory experience. Drew and Bixxy made us feel like we were favored house guests. Every morning at breakfast you could have your choice of tea or coffee (nice strong French coffee, real English tea, milk), and Drew drove early to the local bakery for really scrumptious croissants to go with our yogurt and muesli. (French yogurt is MUCH better than its counterpart in America!) We had a full lunch and dinner every day, prepared by Bixxy, and since I am a vegetarian, she made special accommodations for me with a separate plate if the rest were eating a meat dish. Much appreciated, and always delicious, as well as unusual (I especially loved the mix of quinoa, red lentils, and wild rice) and healthy too.

So, after breakfast on Monday, Drew took Nikki off to Nantes to catch her flight home to Kent, while the rest of us headed to the studio for a lesson in technique.

Outside of studio

Inside of studio

Jane Minter
Jane took us through doing a series of washes--both monochrome and in multiple colors--and then Jane demonstrated the technique of painting wet on dry, then surrounding the image with water and pulling out the color from the image into the background, leaving white to keep a hard edge on one side of the painted object, while invading the image on the other to let the color bleed. This is kind of a trademark technique of Jane's, and you can see it on her blog. We tried it with our own objects, and then she demonstrated using the same principle painting a stem of berries from the yard, and we tried to duplicate that (see berries, below).


Afterwards, we went the opposite direction, by creating a wash and then forming images in it by lifting the image out of the wash using a dry brush. With that technique, it's all about timing--if it's too wet, nothing happens; if it's too dry, it's too late. The acorns and nasturtium leaf, above, were attempts on that.

These were all challenging techniques for me, as I tend to paint more like an illustrator, drawing and then painting on dry paper with a small brush and fairly dry paint (comparatively speaking). Instead, we were working with mop brushes and lots of water and pigment, and it felt really out of control. But out of control is good! It's how you learn. And I did learn some great techniques, which I am eager to further explore now, on my own.

Here is my first attempt at the berries, which had a few problems, so Jane helpfully showed me how to "whack in" some more color and then use splatter with a toothbrush to cover the flaws and add texture. Below that is another one I tried later, with greater success.

The interesting thing about this second one is something Jane was trying to teach us about letting the medium itself work for us. I painted five of the berries in the foreground, but the blurry ones in the background either occurred naturally when I bled the color out of the pre-planned ones, or were helped along by carefully dropping paint into the wet background. It gives depth and interest. You have to remember, also, to save your whites so your highlights pop.

To be continued...

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