My workshops are hands-on. Participants spend most of the time painting. I give feedback to individual students, and sometimes switch to addressing the whole group when I think that a point will interest others as well (for instance how some famous artist would tackle a problem that has arisen in the workshop). There are no formal lectures.
My approach is non-directive. I explore with each person his or her style of working to see how it can be developed further. (Please bring along some examples of recent work – or high quality photographs of them – so that I can relate my input to your previous work).
Participants must supply their own paints and other materials (though easels and tables are provided). A list of materials needed is available here. A wide range of participants, ranging from beginners to established, award-winning artists, has found these workshops valuable.
Workshops last five or six days. They are sometimes given in my Stellenbosch studio, and sometimes elsewhere. (Contact me if you would like to host one of my workshops somewhere else).
Each course has a maximum of ten participants, so space is limited.
COLOUR WORKSHOPS (OIL PAINTING)
The specific focus of these workshops is the use of colour, and how that interacts with tonality (light and dark). To explore mixing colour I recommend using a very limited palette and exploiting its possibilities to the hilt. This simplifies the problem of mixing colours, thereby making it less daunting.
In these workshops we explore a few three colour palettes (plus white). Examples are: Raw sienna, magenta, viridian; Raw sienna, burnt umber, viridian. Raw sienna, indian red, indigo. Using such a limited palette initially feels like painting with one hand tied behind your back. But with time it becomes clear that even with such a confined palette an enormous range of colour possibilities remains. It also helps us to avoid garishness and discover the riches of muted colours.
What people who attended previous colour workshops said:
- “I learnt more in a week than I would normally learn in a year”
- “Painting master Andries Gouws is unusually generous in sharing hard-won secrets of his craft; he also gives a good amount of feedback. He believes in painting from life, and he’s serious about colour – about getting it right to an insane level of perfection, with a restrained palette, without overdoing the brushwork. His spacious studio is well-stocked with rare art books that, given half a chance, he tips out for each student specifically, or he hauls up reams of reference from the internet, coming up with names I haven’t heard of and breath-taking images. He’ll steer your painting work away from your comfort rut, towards excelling inside new sets of limitations. If you want to move your painting skills up a level, book a place on one of his courses – before he inevitably reverts to focusing all of his time on his own remarkable work.”
- “By creating boundaries to work within, Andries gently encourages your own natural process/style of painting and enhances it by bestowing his vast knowledge of the great masters, materials one uses and art. Much gratitude to him. I highly recommend a workshop with him”
- “In its focus on hands-on painting issues it formed an excellent complement to my art studies through UNISA”
- “It resolved the ‘hump’ of colour that has bothered me for years”
- “What I expected was to be shaken from my comfort zone, which did indeed happen. My further expectation to learn more about mixing colour, was exceeded too. And with Andries’ succinct words my past work was a given critical look that was most encouraging. I can highly recommend this workshop.”
FACE & FIGURE WORKSHOPS (DRAWING AND PAINTING IN OILS OR OTHER MEDIA)
Because many of the issues here do not relate specifically to colour, this workshop includes quite a bit of drawing. (Some people even choose to stick to drawing, and not do any painting at all during this workshop).
As always, I don’t impose my own vision of how one should paint, but respond to each person’s individual way of working.
However, we also attend to some issues which create difficulties for many people. These include:
- Mastering tonality.
- Capturing three dimensionality. I’ll discuss the classical approach to the volumes of the body, found for instance in most classical Greek sculpture. (Conceiving the face and body as consisting entirely of convex shapes).
- Common errors or problems such as:
- Misunderstanding the shape of: the skull, eyes and eyebrows, nose, mouth; the neck and how it relates to the spine. (We tend to separate the thing named from the whole of which it is a part, perhaps because we have separate words for “nose”, “mouth”, “neck”, etc.. Another problem is the tendency to think of the front, sides and back of the head and body as flat, rather than curved surfaces which go from front to side to back without any abrupt transitions)
- Mismatch between
- … how one paints the hair and how one paints the rest
- … how one paints the face and how one paints the body (or clothes)
- … how one paints the face and body, and how one paints ‘the background’.
There will be live models (included in course fee); where possible alternating between male and female. On the first three days we use a clothed model, focusing on the face (though participants need not limit themselves to the face, neck and shoulders). On the last three days we use a nude model.
This course has been found valuable by a variety of people ranging from relative novices to established artists. The Face & Figure workshop is new, and I haven’t really collected much feedback, but here is one response:
“Thank you for an insightful, productive, amazing, albeit challenging course.
Thank you too for the generosity with which you share your knowledge and your very encouraging attitude and manner with your students.
I always come away from your workshops feeling worthwhile, and with a great sense of gratitude to you and in a way, to myself. That I willingly extract myself from my regular, intense and hard paced life to focus on learning, not just the physical aspect of drawing and painting, but the knowledge you impart on all aspects of fine art, I see as an anchievement and gift to myself.”
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