Monday, June 8, 2015

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: A Day of Art Nouveau

My recent One-Day Watercolor Workshop in Durango -- A Day of Art Nouveau -- was successful and so much fun.

This workshop turned out to be a small group of us (6 + me) -- after 7 people dropped out in the last week, for one reason or another.  But, 6 turned out to be the perfect number for this project!  (And, no one was complaining about the extra space and extra attention!)

We began the day by looking at examples of Art Nouveau -- a romantic, illustrative art style from the early part of the 20th century.  It is characterized by its flowing lines and curves.  

We each chose references for our main figure, and found other references for our borders.

The next step was to prepare the paper, do a wet-in-wet underpainting (with warm earth colors, like Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Raw Sienna, and Burnt Sienna) -- with salt added for texture.

While this was drying, we drew our main figure on tracing paper (either a woman or a flower), enlarged it, and transferred it to our paper.

It was then time to add a border -- a circle/mandala behind the main figure, and then some kind of border, with pattern and flowers added.

When the drawing was finished, we inked over the lines with a permanent/waterproof ink pen (like a Sharpie or a Micron).

After the inking, we used transparent glazes of watercolor, to paint the shapes.

Shari even brought her Art Nouveau cup!

Aren't these great?

All in all, it was a really enjoyable day -- I know that everyone was pleased with her painting.


  1. What a wonderful workshop, wish I lived closer!

  2. Beautiful pictures!
    Pat, what is a transparent glaze? How does it differ from just watercolor?

    1. Thanks, Diane! A transparent glaze is just a term I use to describe a wash of watercolor that is applied over another layer of paint. I call it a glaze, because it doesn't totally cover up what is underneath. But, it is still watercolor. Since we started our paintings with a wet-in-wet underpainting, everything that was painted on top of that is referred to as a transparent glaze, except for the darkest darks.

  3. This looks like fun! They are all so pretty. Where did you get the Art Nouveau designs?

    1. Thanks, Laura. We got the references from various sources. Alphonse Mucha posters were found on-line, and I had a book of old Vogue covers. We also used design elements from some Dover books I have, filled with Art Nouveau designs.

  4. How enjoyable! The artwork is lovely.

  5. That looks like such a fun workshop! Art Nouveau is one of my favorite periods and I love how accessible you made it - the illustrations tend to be so intricate I get tired just thinking about drawing that way. ;)

  6. My bedroom as a girl was an Alphonse Mucha wallpaper - 9 of his most famous paintings, 3 of which you've shown above. I remember it so fondly and have always liked that style even though I had no idea who he was when I was little.