2010-02-12 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

Watercolor Classes For Adults At RAA; Last Weekend For ‘Connections’
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

“RAA #1,” a photograph by Ralph Petagna, on view through February 14 in “Spanning Connections” in sTudio 6, RoCA at Fort Tilden. “RAA #1,” a photograph by Ralph Petagna, on view through February 14 in “Spanning Connections” in sTudio 6, RoCA at Fort Tilden. “What about watercolor excites you?” I asked him. “Everything,” he answered. “The translucency, the way it interacts with itself, the fact that it’s a little uncontrollable, which makes for lots of happy accidents, …”

Clearly, in speaking to Robert Bainbridge, who will be teaching watercolor to adults at RAA, one can discern that he has a passion for and an extensive working knowledge of the medium. His watercolor paintings are some of the finest that have been displayed in the RAA galleries.

When asked what he most wants to impart to his students, Bainbridge said that many people think that watercolor is very difficult to control and is unforgiving; that is it can’t be changed once the paint is put on the paper. But that is untrue. Like anything else; like drawing, for example, once you learn the tools and how to use them, have a comfort level with them, you can control the results. The more you work with the medium, the more you can anticipate the results. “To learn watercolor, as with any other medium, it takes practice – training the eye/hand coordination.

Bainbridge advocates spending time planning the painting and setting up the materials before beginning – setting up the right light, the right tools, getting the underlying drawing right. The latter is essential to Bainbridge. “If you have something definite in mind, you know where you want to go. If you know what you want before you start, have the necessary physiological tools to do it, you will be able to get the results you want.”

The watercolorist will help his students analyze what it is they want and what techniques they can use to achieve their goal. “It takes practice [with the materials], especially with such a variable vehicle like watercolor, to anticipate what’s going to happen. Be comfortable with the variables and what they will do; comfortable with the tools. Have fun with them.” “If you don’t know what you will get, it is distracting, you’ll wind up where you don’t want to be and you will be disappointed.”

Bainbridge will expose his students to a variety of techniques and have them experiment with those techniques to see what happens. “There are many approaches to watercolor. Experiment with different techniques so you will know what you can [expect] with them. Learn them so you can use them again and they become your tools.”

Several exercises are planned. Students who are not experienced will first do monochromes (painting with a single color) so they can practice opacity, tone, etc. There will be no pressure to produce finished paintings.

“But,” Bainbridge recognizes, “watercolor also does its own thing.” “A watercolor is something you can never paint the same way twice. [For example] The color will never be the same. The paper does its own thing.” But it is this very variability that makes the medium so exciting. Being able to use that and roll with it is what practice gives the painter, too.

Bainbridge is a realist, but if a student wants to be a surrealist or paint abstractly, “that’s fine with me. I will teach them the techniques to achieve it.”

The artist’s favorite watercolorists are John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. Rembrandt was a great influence. Bainbridge plans to expose his students to several different artists in addition to these. They include Maurice Prendergast, the untraditional John Marin, John Constable (“whose oil sketches are like watercolors”) and J.M.W. Turner (“who works in oils like they are watercolors.”).

Bob Bainbridge will be offering watercolor instruction one night per week – “Experiencing Watercolor with Robert Bainbridge.” Each session will last two hours.

Maximum 20 participants per class.

Students of all levels are welcome. Bainbridge will offer group and individual instruction. Students can come on a pay-per-class schedule or they can sign up for a series of eight classes for a discounted price.

Start date, time, location (sTudio 6 or sTudio 7 in Fort Tilden), etc. TBA. Remember that musician/songwriter Greg Trooper will be offering guitar lessons to children 8 and up. Anyone interested in these or the watercolor classes should contact the RAA office for necessary information.

RAA CONTACT INFO: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474- 4373; e-mail: rockart116@aol.com; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org. Fort Tilden Highlights

RAA EXHIBIT: “Spanning Connections” – On view through Feb. 14, in sTudio 6. Gallery hrs.: Sat. and Sun. 12-4 p.m. NEXT WRITERS GROUP MEETING: Sun., Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. in sTudio 6, RoCA. SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: This Saturday and every Saturday during the winter. 8 p.m. start time.

THURS. NIGHT OPEN MIC: Performing artists of all disciplines invited. 8 p.m. start time. Join us. Free admission. ART CLASSES FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS: Classes include painting, digital photography, singing, acting, cartooning. Call RAA office for details.

PAINTING CLASSES FOR ADULTS: Tues. 7-9 pm., Thurs. 10 a.m.-12 noon, sTudio 7, $15 per class, supplies included.

kidsmART corner

kidsmART will be closed at T-149 and PS 104 for the entire week of February 15.

We hope everyone has a relaxing break and we’ll be back to our regular program schedule beginning February 22.

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