I am still "high" from the Cheap Joe's Watercolor Workshop in Holland, MI, and can't wait to attempt a small work to share with you. The class could not have been better. There were 25 of us, two to a long work table with lots of space to work comfortably in. There were chairs set up in between the tables facing the instructors table with a tilted mirror above it so that everyone could see clearly what he was doing.
What an interesting mix of people - all women (except Joe); there were several professional watercolorists present and they were happy to share their work and suggestions in a friendly, helpful way. I was so concerned that I wouldn't fit in; after all, it was not only my first watercolor try, but my first ever art workshop!
I must say the label "Cheap" doesn't apply to Joe, just to his inexpensive prices on his art supplies. He and his lovely wife Linda had gifts for us every day! And he was so generous with his time and so patient. He told the most wonderful stories. The best one that almost brought tears to my eyes was the story of Vincent Van Gogh as told by his brother, Theo, through the use of the letters that Vincent sent to him nearly every day. Joe would get so into the story that he would become Theo and refer to Vincent as "my brother". It was spellbinding!
On to the particulars of my experience - the first day I was a little mouse, fearful and timid and very nearly tearful. My first attempt at a value study was a huge boost for me, but my first watercolor from my value study was awful (worse than awful - horrendously pitiful!). And to make matters worse, my left ankle was horribly swollen and quite painful. But my dear sister-in-law had some Benadryl for me and each night before I went to sleep I would take some and ice my ankle and each morning it was a little better.
The second day flew by and I was still intimidated, but had given my inner critic the boot. I was determined to "do" some watercolor. All these people made it look so easy! I did a couple of value studies using one color; one in yellows (not a great choice) and one in greens (better). Although I don't love them, they are so much better than yesterday's work that I was cheered a bit.
The third day I worked on organizing a large palette with a lid and it looked so pretty I was loathe to get it dirty. But I finally mixed up some color and played. I didn't end up with any beautiful art to show you, but I had fun.
And the gifts! You won't believe what we were given:
I will try to list what is in this picture starting from the back and going from left to right:
A water bucket with a removable divided insert for water. I can't believe I took the picture with the Cheap Joe's label in the back. Oops!
A water color journal.
A watercolor paper cutter.
A lovely "goof proof" blank greeting card sampler.
A sponge to which you just add water.
An American Journey artists' watercolor stick in Bumblebee Yellow.
A spatter screen.
A value finder.
A selection of sketching pencils and two pens.
A pencil sharpener.
The one thing that is not pictured is a water accepting acetate sheet that you can put over your painting to preview what you are thinking of doing to change what you already have done before having to commit to it.
Also, if you have the opportunity to stay in Holland, I can't recommend City Flats Hotel enough. It is a very luxurious, European flavored, eco friendly hotel in which every room is different. Ours was spectacularly comfortable.
By the time you read this, we are on the road again. We are going to spend 5 days at the brother-in-law's condo in Sugar Loaf in the Leelanau Peninsula with our two kids and their three girls. It is sure to be a good time. But when it is over, I just want to be a homebody for awhile.
I love going, but nothing compares to coming home when the adventure is done.