- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

SULLIVAN, Ill. (AP) - A group of art lovers together tackled the challenge of watercolor portraiture painting during an art workshop at Saint Collumcille Church Hall.

Members of the Sullivan Art Club took on the challenge of watercolor painting a Mediterranean man with a weathered face wearing a blue hat standing in front of a scenic view of mountains in the background.

While the reference portrait was the same for all of those who attended the workshop, the face of the man they sought to imitate on their sheets of paper differed subtly. In each of the attendees’ portraits, the man’s face was elongated, shortened heightened or otherwise, resembling what each person saw and their style of work.

Unlike other styles of painting, watercolor proves to be one of the more challenging painting styles, according to John Gabb, the workshop instructor. Gabb said unlike painting with oils and other materials, watercolor notoriously dries fast, leaving little room for error and correction.

“Watercolor is a lot more precise and demanding,” Gabb said. “It’s not like oils where you can move it around and remove and add and it stays wet for a long time.”



Because of the quick drying period for watercolor, people at the workshop were intent and focused with each brush stroke across the paper. For Marilyn Boddy, who attends the workshops frequently, this was the first time she had attempted portraiture with watercolor.

“I normally do landscaping and trees and flowers and horses but not people’s faces,” Boddy said. “(Portraiture) doesn’t seem to work in my direction.”

The man’s aged and weathered face was the hardest challenge for Boddy. She said his face had a lot of details that were difficult to manage while maintaining his human persona.

“There are so many different sections of the face, and this guy here is weathered. He has lots of changes in his face,” Boddy said. “Nobody’s picture looked like the model.”

Gabb said while watercolor portraits are demanding, he has always enjoyed painting in that style.

“I like it because of the challenge,” he said. “Not everyone will tackle portraiture with watercolor, so when you do it, it becomes something different, unique.”

From his experiences painting, Gabb said there are a few tips that can ensure more ease when attempting this style and subject of painting, one of which is drawing from a clear picture of the subject.

“With watercolor, you have to have a precise drawing,” Gabb said. “It’s imperative that you start with an accurate drawing.”

There is a lot of planning that goes into watercolor, including having a clear understanding where the lights and darks on the subject are, Gabb said, which is why watercolor is often used for scenery. He added artists often have to pay attention to the light and dark values in the photo to ensure the painting is precise.

Started 50 years ago, the art club has been a group whose members join together and just create art in all manner of styles. Boddy said it really is about being with people also interested in creating art and learning new forms of art as well.

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Source: The Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, https://bit.ly/1UP6r5R

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Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, https://www.jg-tc.com

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