Erik Tiemens Watercolor & Gouache Painting Workshop

Over the past weekend, I attended the Erik Tiemens' Watercolor & Gouache painting workshop in Mendocino, California. Erik Tiemans, for those who are unfamiliar, is a concept artist in the film industry. A few times a year he teaches a workshop at the Mendocino Art Center. Overall, as a working illustrator, I found this workshop technically useful; as a painter I found this workshop inspiring.

Tiemens' palette is largely composed of the familiar colors many painters use, but with a slightly blue and gray emphasis with brown undertones. The influence of the Dutch Masters' painting is evident in his work, which he talked about to some degree on the first day.

Tiemens' approach to painting outdoors is similar to pre-impressionist painters, who would spend time in the countryside sketching from life (usually with sepia ink or watercolor), bringing the sketches back to the studio for further development. Here is a sketch he had hanging on the wall in class (a better photo can be found on his blog):

And here is a beautiful finished painting he brought to class:

Although Erik Tiemens works in the film industry as a well established concept artist with a great deal of respect, apart from that field he is just a really damn good painter with a lot of interesting work. It is difficult not to be inspired by his enthusiasm for the craft and history of painting.

But since this was a workshop, what did I take away from it?

Here are some of the field sketches I did during the workshop:

and small studies, experiments worked up from memory:

I love the idea of sketching out in the field, 'gathering data' as he referred to it, taking those sketches and experiences back into the studio to come up with something entirely new: a composed impression based on what was learned from life. To pull this off well, a certain amount of craft and skill is involved that one must, in the end, feel as though the landscape has not been slavishly copied, but rather pulled from a well of knowledge and creativity. In the end, the artist must arrive feeling completely personally immersed in self expression. Isn't that what it's all about? I left the workshop and the beautiful town of Mendocino completely inspired and looking in a more complete direction for my own work. I highly recommend this workshop for any working illustrator or fine artist who simply loves to paint.