Saturday, December 4, 2010

Journaling with Jane LaFazio

Although it's still Saturday night, I feel as though I've been away for a long weekend—nearly four days spent with my bff Louise Duhamel, award-winning jewelry artist and amazing woman, a true blessing in my life. Louise and I had been wanting to take a watercolor journaling workshop with Jane LaFazio for a very long time, since last summer in fact, so we signed up for Jane's "Watercolor Painting: Journal Style" workshop several months ago. It finally took place in San Diego last Thursday and Friday, sponsored by the San Diego Watercolor Society.
Above you can see one of the subjects for our first painting exercises. We first tried painting some silk flowers Jane had brought for our use, and then we went outside the workshop facility into the rose garden to try our hand at live botanical paintings. I took several photos as well.
The emphasis of this workshop was on simple watercolors and page layout with handwritten text and titles; signing and dating our work was also encouraged. I call Jane's approach "travel journaling for the rest of us," meaning those of us who are rather new at this and somewhat intimidated by the gorgeous journals we've seen in books and magazines.
Naturally we had to break for sustenance, so at lunchtime many of us headed for the nearby bakery for some of the most delicious sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life (the bread was so fresh and deliciously soft-yet-crunchy, mmmm!); and we salivated over the scones and other desserts on offer. We also commented on what a terrific journal subject a bakery could be...
Speaking of food, here's a typical entry from one of Jane LaFazio's travel journal sketchbooks. Lovely persimmons... love those shadows, too! She uses a Moleskine book and basic watercolors, a niji water-brush (for portability) and sketches with waterproof black pens (Pitt artist pens) but also likes to use a water-soluble pen sometimes to make interesting sketches with a watercolor effect.
BTW, Jane is teaching this same workshop again on Jan 20-Feb 24, 2011 at www.joggles.com. Click here for info. She's also teaching a live workshop in Encinitas on March 19, 2011. Check out her blog for more info.
At the end of class our first day, I wanted to go out to eat at Cheesecake Factory (love their French market salad), and the nearest one was in a San Diego mall. Louise and I walked through the Nordstrom dept. store to get to the restaurant, and we stopped by this gorgeous painting by Scottie Flamm. LOVE IT!!! I asked Louise to pose in front of it, thank you Louise!
On our second day, Jane decided to stretch us a bit creatively, and had us all gather around a bunch of rusty pipes that I am sure have a very practical purpose of some sort... but for us, they were a source of inspiration for drawing (and perhaps painting). I drew three very quick sketches in black ink on watercolor paper, and then decided to do something more creative.
I started with a simple sketch in vertical format, which I worked on for less than a minute. I then turned my watercolor page around to a horizontal format, and continued sketching the same object but this time in a new orientation. I made myself start the second sketch from the edge of the first sketch so that it would have continuity. Don't ask me where I get these ideas!
After about a minute or so I turned the page again and continued sketching. The end result, created in less than five minutes (for sure), might be the basis for a fun abstract painting or it could be used by an art quilter (like Jane!) as the basis for a new quilt design. Or whatever. It was fun and it kept my impatient, easily bored mind entertained (always a challenge when I take workshops).
By this time I had taken lots and lots of photos of the rose garden and I was a bit tired of the prettiness of it all, so I stopped for a quick photo of the above... bird poop! I love it. Kinda reminds me of a Jackson Pollock painting. In any case, I consider this a good reference photo for a future work of art!
Here's one of my unfinished journal pages. I need to sign and date it, and also add some text to turn a simple watercolor into a real journal page. I'll finish it by tomorrow...
Louise and I both fell in love with the magnolia pods that had dropped off the trees across the street from the facility where the San Diego Watercolor Society has its meeting rooms and workshops. I collected a few and gave some to Louise.
I used mine to begin an abstract drawing, again turning my watercolor paper a quarter-turn about every minute or so as I sketched. This drawing is unfinished, but it has great possibilities.
This morning as I was preparing to drive back home to Idyllwild, I asked Louise to help me with my camera. For some reason I have never been able to get the macro lens to work, and I hate reading the manual! My friend showed me how to access it and I went to town, photographing closeups of all her flowers and shrubs. The photo above is a Bird of Paradise, in Louise's kitchen.
Here's a closeup of a weird, dead plant that Louise's husband had thrown away when he was clearing out their yard, which has several huge palm trees. Louise plucked it out of the trash in the nick of time, and I had fun photographing it from all angles.
And finally, here's a fun photo of Louise's little darling. He followed me into the garden when I was out snapping photos. I was sorry to say goodbye! I'm looking forward to spending some time with Louise again, perhaps as early as next month.

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