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Robert Burridge's Loosen Up With Aqueous Media Workshop
"Painting From Your Heart, For Your Heart"
Watercolor Society of Oregon
April 7, 8, 9, & 10, 2014

By Sharon Hansen

Monday morning dawned, making me excited to spend the next four days learning from juror/instructor Bob Burridge. Since I had spent a year writing articles for the Watermark about the Spring Convention and our esteemed juror, I was ready for the workshop to begin. When I walked into the Bobland Studio at the Phoenix Inn, I felt the enthusiasm of the 25 other workshop attendees who were fortunate to be Bob's students for the week.

Bob's passion for art drew all the workshop attendees into Bobland from the first day of the four-day workshop, until the final day when the tarps were pulled from the floor. Being an veteran educator, he developed a relationship with us quickly by relating stories of his childhood, his magic skills, his years as an industrial designer, his inventions, and his growth as an award-winning painter and international art instructor. His humor and positive energy became contagious. We quickly morphed into a family of artists, ready to let our curiosity and creativity soar.

Bob and his wife, Kate, provided a wealth of information with instruction in composition, color theory, painting techniques to loosen us up as painters, and marketing information. We learned where to find the best resources available to artists and what a juror looks for while critiquing artwork. From day one, they gave us PERMISSION to express ourselves through our senses and play with new ideas as we experienced the world around us. Each of us received a PERMISSION bracelet to remind us constantly that we could break boundaries and paint from our hearts, for our hearts.

We began each day with warm-up exercises to get us into the painting zone. Bob found this a valuable way to begin his daily studio time, and it really worked for me. I plan on continuing warm-ups in my own studio. Through demonstrations and informative handouts, we learned how to loosen up our strokes and how to think outside the box. Before we took the first strokes on our gessoed, 300 lb. Fabriano paper, we wrote goals in our journals, decided on the supplies necessary, and thought about limiting our color choices. Bob reminded us to think about our focal point, the WOW part of the painting. We knew our four C's: Concept (intention), Color combinations, Composition, and Committed to our painting. He preached don't give up on a painting and paint a series of the same subject matter. Bob suggested we paint abstractly at first and not over paint a subject. The viewer should not be given all the information, thus making the painting more inviting to explore.

What subjects did we explore in our paintings? After Bob's inspiration and instruction in painting landscapes, flowers, objects, figures, and abstracts, our imaginations continued to roam. Bob told us to "create a painting that had meaning." "Paint where you want to go, not from where you are the familiar." Collage materials enhanced painting, and we were each given Citrasolv to turn National Geographic magazines into gorgeous copyright-free collage papers for our artwork. Many times our fingers did the painting instead of brushes. I'm still getting the paint out from under my fingernails, but it was so liberating.

Each of the attendees grew in a different way during this workshop. I found I thought less about technique and more about my intentions and feelings. Another highlight was Kate's mini-workshop on marketing one's artwork.

A BIG thank you to the workshop coordinator, Liz Walker, for expertly organizing the week, finding the space, arranging daily treats, and turning a large room in the Phoenix Inn into Bobland for a week. We had our own outdoor patio for paint drying, water needs, and lunching each day. Many other workshop attendees helped with set-up and clean-up as well.

Liz and her husband, Jesse, generously invited the workshop artists and the Burridges over for a delicious dinner Wednesday night at their home. Chef Jesse grilled tasty tandoori chicken that I can't wait to try at home. Bob shared a few of his magic tricks after dinner to our delight.

If you didn't get a chance to attend this workshop, Bob and Kate, the dynamic duo, have provided extensive resources on their website at robertburridge.com. I highly recommend browsing this informational website and reading their Artsy Fartsy newsletters. You also can order products from their studio: books, charts, Bob's incredible goof-proof color wheel, and DVDs. Bob is featured on YouTube instructing and sharing valuable information, so take a look. Be sure to sign up for a Burridge workshop the next time Bob and Kate are in the Northwest. I know I will. In the meantime, I give myself permission "to paint from my heart, for my heart".


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