Friday, November 8, 2013


This week I attended a 5-day intensive workshop in San Jose with master artist Don Andrews, AWS and with 11 other artists who were eager to learn the process of painting figures in watercolor.   For years I've wanted to paint figures and faces, particularly those of my grandchildren and the pow wow dancers I photographed in 2006 and 2007 at Schemitzun and the Wigwam Festivals before moving from Connecticut. 

Don's daily demonstrations on how to work with light and creating structure with value was a process that took a lot of thought and planning.  Because this was my first time drawing and painting figures, it was a challenge to get the facial structures accurate before creating the shadow pattern with mid-value paint.   We didn't have live models for this class.  Don explained that it was much easier to paint from a good photograph with proper light and shadows.   

This was my first day painting in the early stages of wash using the Traditional Method of figure painting.   Don  did a demo in the morning, another after lunch, and if necessary, a third short demo if he felt we needed more instruction on some aspect of painting as a group.   

Mixing shadow color and flesh tone was covered the very first day.  Don supplied the class with sample paint from American Journey sold by Joe Miller (Cheap Joe's).  We were dazzled by the wonderful grays made from Halloween Orange and Joe's Cerulean Blue.  Don has his own favorite color:  Andrews Turquoise formulated and produced according to his specifications by American Journey. 

By far, this was one of the most important workshops I have ever taken as an artist. 

The material covered by Don and his skill level in creating dynamic figure paintings was a big wow for the class.

It also helps to have a focused instructor who knows how to teach and be sensitive to the needs of his students.  Besides having passion for art and a great sense of humor, Don's commitment to helping beginner and even intermediate level artists is obvious by the quality of his workshops and his ability to communicate.  What I need most from an instructor is information not intimidation. 

Don gets a 10+ from this student!  

My workshop paintings speak volumes about what I was able to accomplish in only 30 hours! 

1st  Day Practice -  22 x 15 Arches 140 lb Cold Press

 Day 4 Practice  - 22 x 15

By the end of the workshop, I came away with five half-sheet paintings, a 1"  binder filled with notes and reference photos, 6 DVDs on figure painting and an autographed book written by Don -- Interpreting the Landscape in Watercolor

I look forward to taking another workshop with Don.  Perhaps it will be somewhere in Maine or New England!   If not, I am sure the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society will have Don come back in a few years, hopefully for a figures in landscape workshop.  Hint!  Hint!

-- Anna Jacke    November 8, 2013