Our instructor Ted Mahle can paint with his eyes closed. He has taught numerous students around the world this method of painting. Watercolor paper is soaked in water for about ten minutes, then is placed on a smooth board, the excess water is sponged off, and Stockmar paints are applied with a size 8, 10, or 12 Filbert brush. The brush is a hog's hair brush that is broad and with a tapered tip. Here in my Day One painting, we started with the three primary colors, blue, red, and yellow -- just masses placed on the page, then the colors are blended to form the secondary colors, purple, orange, and green. The middle is created by first pulling the paint off the paper by adding more water with the brush to lift the pigment, then a dry brush to wipe the paint off. Then we brought a bit of the color back, aiming for what Ted describes as a peach blossom color, signifying the soul. This technique relies on the ability to relinquish some level of control over the colors and masses, letting go, releasing the spirit into the paint.
On Day Two, we used primarily the color blue, and a bit of violet. The goal was to try and let the masses forming on the paper to guide the image, yet not be confined by it, to allow the developing shapes and movements define the space as water, or rolling hills.
Day Four, the final painting day of the week, I created this wonderful mythological scene. Ted was frantically having us apply the background colors, and we did not know where it was going to go. Apparently, the landscape was not as important as the subjects that were to later emerge. Even though initially I thought the scene would be disjointed, I was pleased with the outcome.
When we paint with our students, the time we spend, and the subject matter will be grade-appropriate. Ted says we do not have to be great artists as teachers, but we must demonstrate that we care to teach them with joyful hearts.