Detail from “Uncertain” - Watercolor by Kate Aubrey

A couple of years ago, my friend Charlie came back from his first Charles Reid workshop flying high. He told us Reid puts in his darkest dark first, then went from there to build the painting. He was intrigued and excited by the process, and his enthusiasm was catching. Hmm, I thought, I’m going to try that on one of my paintings.

Of course, I didn’t. Life kept moving and classes needed teaching, and intended exploration got put way back behind the mayonnaise. I guess I wasn’t quite ready for it.

Enter Jeannie McGuire. While I haven’t worked myself up to using a lot of titanium white, the way she started with intense color and deep darks grabbed me by the throat and shook me. Wow, I thought, and plunged into my own painting after her demo.

“Uncertain” was one of the pieces I started during that workshop. The very first stroke I put in was that dark viridian/quinacridone rose at the small of the model’s back. After that, the painting just flowed. At the end of the day, it only lacked the strand of hair and finishing wash in the top left corner that brings her shoulder into view.

Since then, I’ve been approaching my paintings this way, and am so excited with the results.

So give it a shot. It’s worth the risk.


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