Monday, November 2, 2009

Stephen Quiller Workshop – Spokane, Oct 21-25

Yesterday’s blog described Steve’s teaching on the use of acrylic transparently. The terms transparent, translucent and opaque are discussed in depth on page 43 of WaterMedia Painting with Stephen Quiller. Suffice to say that an artist can achieve some very interesting visual affects playing these techniques off of each other.

Please note – many of the photos appear backwards as they were taken in the overhead teaching mirror.  The finished pieces are oriented correctly.  Thank you to Janis Kestle and Joanne Edie for providing most of these photos. 

Saturday afternoon. Steve demonstrated the use of transparent and translucent color in a dockside demo. He used a transparent background wash of yellows which had been allowed to dry completely. Adding a small amount of white paint to a thin wash of janis acrylic sunday5 janis acrylic sunday3    muted blues and violets he painted negatively around a boathouse, a dock and a boat... but the subject did not matter as much as the point. The transparent passages just glowed against those translucent areas. By this point I was mesmerized and apparently incapable of making decent notes. Therefore I am going to let these photos tell the story.  Magic…

janis acrylic sunday2janis acrylic sunday

After allowing us some time to work on our own we regrouped and Steve began a demo using transparent, translucent, and opaque acrylic on Crescent watercolor board. This is a very thick support relative to even the 300lb watercolor paper Steve had been using to that point in the workshop.

Steve had prepared the board with a neutral blue through violet tone and had allowed it to dry. After a very quick sketch Steve painted in DSCN4001 a shockingly red-orange tree – his centre of interest before developing the snow bank and trees with broad loose strokes. He laid a purplish, translucent veil over the left top trees which just melted in to the previous paint and muted it. He moved on to paint the light DSCN4002 falling on the hill behind the red tree a thick, juicy yellowy white. A similar mix was used to define the light peeking through the trees in places. Various details – snags, scrapes, branches were put in here  sat red tree demo 5 and there with a rhythm that was a lot of fun to watch. It was like seeing a musical performance on paper. At one point Steve commented that “mark and energy is the key to the emotion of the piece and is what the viewer will connect with”.


Steve wet the entire bottom section and painted the reflections by pulling straight down from top to bottom. He worked his magic on the details even here lifting out some areas and lightening others with the yellow/white mix. He described this as partly defining the  joanne sat pic of reflections reflections that would be visible and partly just responding to what the painting needed. The entire process continued into Sunday morning but I think I will just let the photos complete the story.

DSCN4010  DSCN4008 It was an entertaining and stretching experience indeed! 


  1. I am in awe! You are right...watching a musical composer...I could sense that just by following along with the photo's.
    What an amazing and wonderful experience.
    I enjoyed this so much! Thanks

  2. That was a very detailed review of your Quiller workshop experience. It seems you learned TONS. I took a workshop from Steve several years ago, and share your awe of this great artist.

  3. I have all his books but due to your great account of your workshop you have made things clearer for me...thanks so very much for your reporting on the workshop. I can´t wait to take one myself!