Painting with Roger Whitlock

In January I began a series of weekly classes with Roger Whitlock, a notable watercolorist who lives in the Seattle area. He and his other students were all accomplished NWWS member painters, so I was initially a bit intimidated about painting in such company. But I’m glad that I did because I learned about new materials and techniques and met some lovely people in the class.

First, we learned a new (to me) technique for handling watercolor paper to manage its wetness at each stage of the painting process, without going through the tedious process of stretching and drying the paper before one can even begin. Big win!

Roger also offered valuable guidance for handling paint in ways to achieve bright clear colors and create strong values for a successful painting. He also encouraged us to use only big brushes in the early stages to avoid getting lost in the details.

We all worked from Roger’s reference photos and usually completed a painting in each session. The landscape below is from the first class, and uses two colors I’d never used before. Naples Yellow creates a warm glow at the horizon that grades to increasingly dark blues at the top. Surprisingly, Naples Yellow does not create a green where the yellow and blue meet. In addition, we learned that Viridian, a rather vile green on its own, is best used to darken other colors and make them more interesting, as in the foreground trees.

Painted from Roger Whitlock’s original photo

Our third lesson was about depicting subjects which are lit from behind, rather than from light shining directly on them. In the painting below I am most pleased that the strong darks on the left side add the real drama to this scene.

Painted from Roger’s photo of a Mexican scene

Group review sessions at the end of each class were truly helpful. We were all honest but generous and regardless of the skill level we each brought to the class, everyone progressed under Roger’s teaching.

A new series of classes with Roger was to have begun in March. But until we’re no longer all “artists in residences” due to pandemic virus concerns, I’m looking back through my older works with an eye toward painting some of them again, using what I learned from his classes.

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