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SASA January Members’ Meeting and Demo

We kicked off this year’s SASA calendar on Thursday 27 January, with our members’ meeting at the Athenaeum. This, the first meeting of 2022, was well attended in socially distanced numbers and everyone present found the evening totally inspiring – the only thing lacking was a few more hours!

 

Set up and well spaced around the hall, were six of our “best of” prize-winners from last year’s annual selection day giving us a live demonstration.

Laura Wenmann – best oil – showed us how she produces her beautiful portraits, using a blank canvas and a photograph as her starting point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Day – best acrylic – demonstrated the attention to detail necessary for reproducing his hyper-realistic landscapes, focusing for the evening, on tiny finishing touches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pam Quinlan – best watercolour – peacefully went through the process of creating one of her exquisite paintings, using her particular gift of perfect colour choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val Watt – best pastel – took us through her superb pastel techniques, sharing her secrets and skills with us and answering our many queries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deirdre Harris – best mixed media – showed us how she builds up the beautifully integrated layers of shapes and colour for her mixed media pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonja Frenz – our new fellow – did a lovely monochromatic landscape in a range of charcoals, starting with smudgy dust, all the way to sharply drawn black lines and white lines created with different erasers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fascinating to watch how the various projects came together through the course of the evening and to be able to talk to the artists, getting replies to questions we’ve needed to ask. Although the time allowed was not enough to complete a piece, we got a very good idea of how each would turn out. Beautifully!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to our “demonstrators” for your time, trouble and expertise. Thanks as well to all the members who joined us for the evening…..and of course, to Avril for the lovely refreshments.

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Val Watt Pastel Demo

Our members’ meeting for May was well attended via Zoom, with over 40 people watching. Everyone was looking forward to Val Watt’s pastel demo.

The meeting was opened by SASA president, Liz Pearson, who welcomed new members and council member and thanked those involved with videoing and presenting our Zoom meetings. She also sent condolences to friends and family of Dale Elliot, a long-time SASA member, who sadly passed away a week ago.

 

 

 

 

Val began her presentation by  showing us all the materials she uses, starting with the pastels themselves, pastels being the closest medium one can get to pure pigment. The softest and most intense colour comes from pan pastels, which are applied with a chamois-covered applicator and used for covering large areas.

 

 

 

 

She then went through all sorts of different pastels and pastel pencils, the softer of which have more pigment and less binder. As the binder increases, the pigment decreases, which give a lighter, less intense colour and these are usually the pastels used underneath the softer ones. She uses the “arm test” to check the “power” of each pastel.

 

 

 

 

 

Next we saw some of the many different papers available, from sanded, which has more tooth and can hold more layers, through to much smoother papers which are not as durable…..and for storage and shipping, a sheet of tracing paper is used to prevent smudging.

 

 

 

 

 

Val began her portrait by drawing the face with a hard, light pastel pencil, then adding yellow to place the highlights. She carefully chose her colours for lights, darks and mid tones before she began mapping out her portrait, going from hardest to softest and blending with a harder pastel, rather than a finger.

She splashed alcohol on the pastel to make interesting texture and carried on on top of that, darkening and lightening as she went, correcting drawing and tone, often using colours one would never think of using in a portrait.

It was fascinating to watch the portrait emerge.

Thank you Val, for presenting your process to us and for answering all our questions. If you’re interested in attending one of Val’s workshops, her next one will be held sometime in July.

 

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Val Watt Pastel Workshop

A group of about ten SASA members joined us on Saturday 15 May for a wonderful pastel workshop with Val Watt. Starting with the declaration “There are no rules, only options”, Val very generously shared all her experience and expertise with us, never prescriptive, but letting us find our own way, gently guiding us if we got lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val first discussed the materials we’d be using – soft, medium and hard pastels; the various papers available and new textural and innovative ways of making our own supports. As she explained and demonstrated the pastels, ground and supports, we tried them out too, feeling and seeing the differences for ourselves, at times even drawing a line on our arm to test for softness and density of pigment.

Val demonstrated a seascape with two figures on the rocks. We began by drawing in the horizon line, while Val described how to check the size, proportion and placement of the figures.

Selecting our lightest, medium and darkest colours, we began to put all we’d learnt that morning into practice. Starting with a watercolour sky and using hard pastel, we drew in the rocks and sea, which we then washed with alcohol to get wonderful textures, splashes and drips.

It was lovely to see all the different interpretations of the scene, each artist bringing her own special touch. We all enjoyed the workshop tremendously and learned an enormous amount. Thank you Val for a truly inspiring day! Thanks as well to Irene for organising it – and the photos – for us and to Mary McMillan for the words. Looking forward to Val’s demo at the SASA members’ meeting next week.