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Watercolor workshop

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 4:00 am

Local Tucsonan Kath Macaulay tells the people in her workshop that they don’t need a giant easel and copious amounts of paint to be an artist. She simply states that they need a sketchpad, a small watercolor paint kit, a pen, and an open mind.

Last week in an Oro Valley resident’s home, Macaulay taught a group of about a dozen adults what she has been teaching people around the country; the basics of watercolor with her workshop, Pocket Sketching.

“Look at it before you go over it again,” Macaulay told her class about adding additional elements to their paintings. “It has vitality. Look it over before you kill it.”

Her three-day workshop emphasizes bringing out one’s strengths and catering their weaknesses into creating a painting in less than 25 minutes. After that amount of time, she says you destroy the painting.

“If they have too much time they will change their focal point,” Macaulay said.

In last week’s class, the members ranged from having an extensive artistic background, to those who had never done anything artistic in their lives.

Macaulay said she works at removing ones internal judgments about their own abilities to paint and be artistic.

She used the example of someone who, while in school, was told to paint a painting just as the teacher told them to. But this individual put their own visions and interpretations into the painting and was told they did the exercise wrong. They were told they weren’t an artist.

“They don’t even know it’s different,” Macaulay said. “They have just been told it’s different.”

Sig Silverman was one of the students who took the class without any prior art knowledge.

“Others had taken various watercolor classes over the years,” Silverman said. “So they had a little more perception of how to blend colors and what have you. But I got so much out of the class and enough that, even though I didn’t see my talent come out, I think I am going to do something with what I have learned.

“I found that I could take this paint brush and have the ability to mix colors and put something on paper that’s pleasing to the eye. I was happy, even though I didn’t excel to the extent some of the others did, I was very pleased with what I did accomplish. It gave me some more self-confidence.”

Another person who took the workshop who had never worked with watercolor was Elvira Butler.

Butler has her artistic outlet through photography, enough to the point where she has published a soft-cover book “Totally Tucson.”

“It was a freeing experience not working with hand-eye coordination directly and putting things on paper and not using the camera,” Butler said. “I also now appreciate the fact of how I use my camera and the things I can create with it.”

She added that it was nice to be pushed out of her comfort zone to experience art in a new and different way. 

In Macaulay’s class, “Pocket Sketch,” which she has trademarked, she gives each student a 4x6 sketch pad, a pen, a kit with 14 different watercolors, and a paint brush. For slightly under $40, a person can buy all of their materials. The materials from the class are for the students to take home. In addition to materials, the three-day workshop costs $190 per person.

The first day is spent introducing the class to their materials and then they move on to sketching trees and creating focal points. After that, the class works into the watercolors with using and mixing colors. The first two days of the class are spent indoors and the last day is spent outside. This last class spent their final day around the Hilton El Conquistador with doing real-world paintings.

Macaulay said the techniques and perceptions her students learn in her workshops are ones that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Silverman had already noticed some of those changes right after the class.

“I came home and looked at my house in a totally different manor and the artwork I have hanging. I found myself instead of walking by my artwork, I would stop and critique my artwork.”

Throughout Tucson Macaulay will be traveling to Star Pass, Canyon Ranch and the Toscana Studio Gallery. She will also be teaching her workshop in Sedona and Green Valley. Macaulay will also travel to Mt. Vernon, Washington, Sun Valley Idaho, Jackson, Wyoming, and to Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin.

For more information or to sign up for one of her workshops, visit www.pocketsketching.com.

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