DILLMAN’S WORKSHOP

Dillman’s Resort is tucked up into the north of Wisconsin at Lac Du Flambeau. It sits on a tree covered  peninsular jutting out into  a beautiful lake. We were lucky to have good weather, but the resort closes over winter due to snow.

Evenings on the lake are pretty spectacular, watching the sun set to the haunting call of  loons

In the main reception area is a large open fire, the Tom Lynch Library, an art supply shop, a bar and friendly, helpful staff.

Art workshops have been conducted at Dillmans since 1978. Their two large studios have excellent facilities and the resort offers great accommodation with kitchens, barbecues, kayaks and push bikes.

Workshop Demos

Cool nights were warmed up by a large bonfire hosted by one of our group.

The week at Dillmans seemed to go very quickly, but we look forward to coming back to this beautiful part of the world in a couple of years time.

WORKSHOP SNAPS

The two weeks of our workshop in Southern Italy and Sicily seemed to fly by so quickly, but looking back to painting on the beach in Sorrento, or the spectacular views in Taormina, it all seems so long ago.

Here are a few photos taken during the workshop.

It is always sad at the end of  a workshop – everyone says goodbye and and heads off to different parts of the world.

Thanks to our fantastic guides Amanda and Gordon, and the enthusiasm and good nature of all involved, we all leave with lots of great memories, new friends and a collection of paintings that will trigger thoughts of Sicily and Italy for years to come.

CEFALU

Tucked under an enormous rock outcrop on the North coast of Sicily, the small town of Cefalu is dominated by its impressive Norman cathedral.

The old town has a wonderful, busy character and it’s maze of streets and alleys are fun to explore.

The town wraps around some attractive, sheltered beaches and has a fleet of small wooden fishing boats providing fresh fish for the local restaurants.

We managed to find some great painting locations tucked into out-of-the-way alleys.

Up until 20 years ago, these old Roman wash tubs were still in use. An endless supply of clean, spring water flushes through them and out to sea. The luxury of electricity and white goods has relegated them to a tourist attraction.

Electric wiring in Cefalu is an incredibly confusing tangle of cables, strung haphazardly from building to building.

Little wonder the locals puzzle over electricity bills.

In the centre of town, the huge Norman cathedral is an impressive structure. Interior decoration is fairly schizophrenic,  having chopped and changed over the centuries according to religious preference, politics and fashion

Young people in Cefalu have the same crazy desire to push a vesper to the edge of suicidal self destruction as is found in most of Italy.

Parking under religious icons guarantees safety here too!

Our Hotel was perched above the bay on the opposite side of the rock to the town. This path led down to a terrace, swimming pool and small beach. It made a comfortable, shady spot to paint some old buildings and garden walls attached to the hotel.

We found this poor fellow sound asleep on a bench at a small beach resort out of Palermo. He was a bit confused when he woke up and found 20 people spread around him with easels and paint boxes.

Mondello waterfront – Sicily

SUGGESTING DETAIL

Italian Village
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When faced with a complex, detailed subject, the temptation is often to try and include every detail. This approach can lead to a confusing overload of information. In this demonstration we will concentrate on simplifying and suggesting detail. Our approach will be to decide on an area of interest to serve as our focal point or centre of interest, then simplify and suggest detail in the rest of the painting.
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MATERIALS
Paper
1/2 sheet 300gsm (140lbs) Cold Pressed
Colors
Ultramarine Blue
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Quinacridone Gold
Ink – Burnt Sienna and Dip Pen
Brown Pastel Pencil
Brushes
1″  Bristle Brush
1″ and 1/4″ Flat brushes
No. 2 Rigger Brush
3″ Hake Brush
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This little village, high above the sea on the coast of Italy makes a wonderful subject. The impact of the weathered textures and subdued colors can be amplified by focusing attention on the area of the bell tower and simply suggesting the detail in the right hand side of the village.
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A quick thumbnail sketch will help organise the composition for your painting. I have decided to spread the interest horizontally across the painting then contrast it with a  dark diagonal band from the top left to the bottom right. The top right and lower left areas will be left virtually untouched.
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Quinacridone Gold, Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson are all we need to mix all the colors in this painting
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DRAWING AND FIRST WASHES
Simply block in the major shapes with a brown pastel pencil. More detail can be drawn in as the painting progresses if necessary. The entire area above the village is first wet with clean water before a wash of Ultramarine Blue, Quinacridone Gold and Alizarin Crimson is worked diagonally through the background. Vary the mixture from a warm, dirty yellow to a cool grey. The same colours can then be roughly washed through the dry paper in the foreground. All these early washes are best applied with an old 1″ bristle brush. (The cheap house painting type are ideal).
A loose soft suggestion of background trees works much better than carefully painting in the line of trees in the photograph.
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BUILDING SHAPES
Using various combinations of our three colours and a 1″ flat brush, we can suggest the shapes for the various buildings. Keep the tones fairly light at this stage. We can always make them darker but it’s a bit more difficult to make them lighter if we need to.
Vary the size and shape of the buildings to keep them interesting
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DARKER BUSHES AND WINDOWS
Once all the building shapes are dry we can use our three colors to mix up a nice rich dark – aim for a color something like Burnt Sienna. Splash it on fairly loosely with your old 1″ bristle brush, then quickly rinse out the brush, dry it slightly and run it around the edge of some of the marks you have just made. This will make the edges bleed out and soften, helping tie the shapes to the rest of the painting.
Before these shapes dry, drop a couple of spots of pure Ultramarine into the lower part of the bushes. This gives them a more three dimensional appearance. Use your 1/4″ flat brush to paint in some of the windows. Remember to vary their shape, tone and colour slightly.
When you paint the bushes, try to think of them as shapes that will suggest bushes rather than trying to carefully render a realistic looking bush.
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Use a clean, damp brush to soften and feather out the top edge of the bush shapes.
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BUILDING TEXTURES
To help reinforce the centre of interest, we will add some brick textures to some of the walls. Spread a few small, less noticeable areas of brick into other parts of the painting, but keep the texture in the centre of interest strong and definite
The detailed brick texture at the centre of interest holds attention in this area. Adding softer, less defined brick textures to a few of the other buildings maintains unity and helps tie the centre of interest to the rest of the painting.
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A flat 1/4″ brush is perfect for putting brick texture into some of the walls. Keep the lines of bricks roughly horizontal and stager the brick joints.
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IMPACT THROUGH CONTRAST
The final step is to add some depth and drama to the painting by darkening the background behind the centre of interest and the lower right foreground.
Before we do this though, a few fine pen lines sprayed with a fine mist of water will add some interesting textures to the buildings.
Burnt Sienna ink works well. Spray it as soon as it’s applied and it will produce fantastic spidery lines. Have a tissue or some paper towel handy as the results are a bit unpredictable and you may need to do some quick tidying up.
The dark contrast behind the main building is a combination of our three colours. Wet the area behind the building first so the top edge of the wash feathers out softly. A dry Hake brush can be used to help even out the wash.
Apart from the detail at the centre of interest, most of the painting is fairly loose and suggested. There is enough information there for the viewer to know what is happening but much of the painting requires some sort of viewer interpretation making it much more engaging than an overload of carefully rendered detail.
 

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MARGARET RIVER WORKSHOP

Our Accommodation for the first few days of the Margaret River Workshop was at the old Karridale  Homestead Complex. The homestead was built in the late 1800’s and moved to Margaret River in the early 1960’s. Motel style accommodation was later added, the homestead serving as a restaurant and conference room.

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Our first morning painting was in the comfortable courtyard of the Homestead.

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After going through all the techniques and materials I like to use everyone chose a small part of the courtyard and, using just two colors, concerntrated on composition and tonal contrast to squeeze as much out of their subject as possible.

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That afternoon we walked down to the river. The overcast sky illuminated the gatehouse on a small foot bridge. It was a great subject, but the chilly wind forced us to retreat around 4:30

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Next day we traveled down to the South West tip of WA to Cape Leeuwin where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.

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We found a small sheltered beach and spent the morning painting the lighthouse and surrounding buildings.

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The old Post Office and general store at Witchcliff was closed down a few years ago and is slowly starting to crumble

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The interesting shapes and textures kept us busy painting for the afternoon

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A workshop in Margaret River wouldn’t be complete without painting in one of the wineries. We chose a windy hillside in Voyager Estate. The cold breeze and beckoning cellar full of excellent wines just up the path, meant the painting session finished fairly quickly.

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Voyager brought out some of their best wines for us to sample before sitting down to a great lunch in the dining room.

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After lunch we found an interesting door at the back of the winery.  A simple subject, great surroundings and the warm fuzzy feeling brought about by good food and wine made this a lot of fun to paint.

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The next day we traveled to Pemberton and the giant Karri forests of South West WA.

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After the windy weather near  the coast, the stillness of the Karri forests was a welcome change

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Vertical lines of the Karri trees descend into a chaotic mixture of bushes, ferns and flowers. The formal verticals and varied colorful textures make a great subject.

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The last three days of the workshop were spent at the Kari Valley Resort just out of Pemberton. You can hire a fishing rod and catch trout from your balcony.

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The resort is on the edge of Lake Beedelup. There are walking tracks around the lake and a suspension bridge over the spectacular falls

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We had our own private dining room perched over the lake.

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Our farewell dinner was a great night – Steak, Barramundi and local wine. It’s always sad saying goodbye to everyone but hopefully we will all catch up again sometime.

Many Thanks to Amanda Sloan, our tireless, hardworking tour guide, for making this such a great workshop

YEPPOON

One of the most interesting collection of small boats and old, ricketty jettys are hidden under  the mangroves of Ross Creek, Yeppoon. The last time we visited Yeppoon was 12 years ago and I expected to see all the old jetties replaced with a modern marina. Amazingly, a protection order over a colony of flying foxes, roosting in the mangroves, has saved this fantastic piece of marine history (at least until the bats move on).

Yepoon low tide

Low Tide reflections Ross Creek, Yeppoon

Yeppoon jetty

Old Turpentine log jetty – Yeppoon

I conducted a two day workshop for a group of  a dozen keen watercolour painters in Yepoon. We painted frantically, finishing two paintings per day plus exercises and demonstration paintings. Morning tea and lunch were provided by the ladies attending the workshop. Huge plates of sandwitches, pasteries, cakes and biscuits – folks eat well in Yeppoon!

Yeppoon workshop

Yeppoon watercolour Workshop