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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learning Points: Mel Stabin Workshop

I have just had the privilege of learning from renowned watercolorist Mel Stabin, in a full week workshop organized by the Paletters Art Club in Broomfield, Colorado, and attended by a great group of local artists. (Photo by Dianna Wilson)

Mel is such a great guy: friendly, talented, considerate and funny (including George Carlin impersonations). He provided us with excellent demos and instruction, advice and critiques, and a wealth of artistic quotes. The new concepts and techniques were challenging to master, but the atmosphere was very relaxed and encouraging, so we all learned a lot.

I had a wonderful time (just could not wait to get to the workshop earlier and earlier every morning) and finished the week with a nice set of six brand new paintings. Here are three of them, to illustrate some of the concepts discussed:

Nywot Farm, 11x15 in.

In "Nywot Farm," I focused on two concepts: First, merging together shapes of same value, where the barn door and the wall of the shed are an uninterrupted shape; second, I used color gradation in the dark areas of the barn, keeping the same value but allowing the color to vary from blue to yellow to red.

Another Day Goes By, 15x22 in. (photo by Herb Rodriguez)

In this painting, I practiced preserving the white of the paper to indicate strong sunlight. I also used the three kinds of brush strokes: hard edges and soft edges throughout the surface, and the dry brush technique to indicate the rough texture of the stonework where the old man is sitting.

To the Light-house, 11x15 in.

In this painting, the point was to practice the abstraction of shapes and use of line. It is also an example of the element of repetition, as in the shapes of the several boats, and of the use of diagonals as a dynamic compositional element.


  1. WOW -- I've looked in on Mel teaching before, he's great! And so are your paintings! I love watercolor used the way you do -- don't know if I can describe it, but the shapes are handled with confidence, no putziness. Good color, goes without saying.