Monday, October 6, 2008


Guest Artist

Marilyn Bishop introduced Lou Austerman, our guest artist. Lou is a member of the Ohio Watercolor Society, the Kentucky Watercolor Society, the Cincinnati Art Club, and the Naples (FL) Art Association. He had formal training at the Cincinnati Art Academy and the University of Cincinnati, becoming a professional illustrator for GE after graduation. He currently teaches in Dayton, OH, and in Naples, FL.

Lou said he learned from Ray Loos and Ed Whitney and always paints better when he remembers what they both taught him about staying loose and leaving the detail until later in the painting. He said he has certain rules about painting which he shares with his students: 1) start with an idea, 2) paint the essence of the thing, and 3) use good composition principles and elements -- these are:

Composition/Design Principles: A good composition should have unity, dominance, repetition, harmony, balance, and gradation.

Composition/Design Elements: A good composition should be composed of line, value, color, texture, shape, size, and direction. Of these elements, Lou said the most important are value, color, and texture.

Lou said he either isn’t doing a good job or else is doing a great job teaching because some of the same students keep coming back again and again! He works from a very structured lesson plan when he teaches, telling his students about working with patterns in values and colors, and all the important guidelines to follow when creating a painting.

Lou painted a mushroom today as his demo. Before he picked up a brush, he had drawn out small sketches of the shapes he sees, the composition he wants to create, a good value study (still a small drawing), and he even had a painting finished for us to show us what the demo would look like. He also had a few color tests to see if the color he wanted for the background would work.

Lou prefers to work wet-in-wet so the first thing he did (the drawing was already on the paper) was prewet the paper, front and back, to make sure the moisture stayed a long time. When he wanted to get excess water off, he took a squeegee and scraped it across the paper! He had his paper on a piece of plexiglass, and it was “glued” to the glass due to the amount of water Lou put on the paper. He dabbed the mushroom shape with a paper towel to keep that area fairly dry. Using yellow ochre, he painted the background shapes, working on the largest shapes first. This meant covering some of the background, some rocks and leaf shapes.

He then took cobalt blue and burnt sienna to paint around the mushroom. He cut around the mushroom with those colors. The paper was still wet, and he used more pigment than water at this stage. The blue was used just to add a different, cooler color to play off the warms in the painting.

He continued to shape the mushroom by painting around it with darks, using a mixture of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and alizarin crimson.

He put this around the mushroom and on the dark side of the leaves. Then he used more yellow ochre to shape the leaves and put interesting shapes behind the mushroom at the top of the painting. He said he was using these colors to “sweeten” the painting.

Something that was interesting about Lou’s painting style was, no matter how many times he was using a color or a mixture of colors, he always used a scrap envelope (from junk mailers) to “test” the color to see if it was what he wanted before he put it on his watercolor paper.

When he got some color bleeding into places he didn’t want it to go (because the paper was still very damp), he took a clean, damp brush and lifted and blended the edges a bit more, softening any harsh lines or any bleeds into another area. He said when he got the background where it would “hold up” the mushroom, he would go into the mushroom, but not before. Remember, he’s painting from big to small, leaving that detail work until later when the paper is drier and easier to work.

Using a No. 4 round and a rigger brush, he began painting the mushroom with yellow ochre and cadmium red light, making it pop. Because you need to use your colors in more than one area, he put a bit of blue in some of the foliage and in the shadows of the mushroom; he put some cadmium red in a bit of foliage in the background, too, to give the painting color harmony. And for the final touches, to add texture, he scraped into the still wet dark paint of the ground and rocks.

Lou said that, when you paint something, paint two of them – in other words, paint on the same theme, not necessarily the same painting again. He showed what he meant by showing two paintings he had done when researching mushrooms.

When he was finished with the painting, Lou asked everyone to put their nametags in a bowl for a drawing – the winner would get the signed and matted painting. And the lucky winner was Howard Krauss!

Lou brought in several paintings to show his style of work - many were done by painting wet-in-wet as he did today in the demo. We had several dozen members stay behind for the paint-along after the program to learn more from Lou.

Administration Reports

Les Miley had intially opened the meeting, introducing Vickie Shepherd. Vickie filled in for Shirley Knollman today.

Mary Jane Noe (Membership) introduced two guests, Ardelle Duffy and Cindy Greene. Two other guests came in later: Marilyn Tanis and Carol Fensc.

Carol Rekow (Treasurer) reported our current balance is $7,393.73. Carol also reminded us that the November meeting will be on the second Wednesday of the month (November 12).

Rhonda Carpenter gave a short description of the most recent DVD she had borrowed from the GCWS library: George James’ Mastering Yupo. She recommended this to anyone interested in furthering their techniques on yupo. It is available for borrowing any time – just sign it out, take it home, and return it next month so others have a chance to see it.

Art Shows/Workshops

Sharon Woods Show

Kay Worz wasn’t at the meeting, so Vicki reported we had 30 members in the show and 3 sales.

Marilyn Bishop has paintings in the upcoming “Java, Jazz and Art” juried show in New Richmond, OH. The show will be one day only (Saturday, October 11 from 10a-6p), and all artwork will be for sale. Artwork will be displayed in the store fronts in town.

Marilyn also has a number of prints in the upcoming Maple Knoll show, along with Deb Ward and Mary Jane Noe. The opening reception for that show is Friday, October 10th and you can contact Marilyn for more information.

Sam Hollingsworth’s workshop at the Cincinnati Art Club (January 10 and 11, 2009) still has openings. Sam hopes to see some GCWS members there.

Deb Ward has an article in the online publication, Create Better Paintings ( about her casein painting technique. You can go online to read it.

The WAC Cultural Center in Mariemont is hosting “A Date with 8,” a group of 8 artists, including Carolyn Ross Hibbard and Wynne Bittlinger. The reception is October 3 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, and the show will be available for viewing from October 4 - 18 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm each day.

Although the show is now closed for entries, the Cincinnati Art Club will display artwork for their 40th annual Viewpoint juried show November 7 – 23.

Howard Krauss reminded us of the Tom Lynch workshop coming up next year, June 1-4, 2009. The cost is only $450 for the 5-day workshop; that is such a bargain, spots will fill quickly. The workshop is in Oxford, OH, and you can contact Howard for more information.

Howard also has been given several frames from an artist friend. He is willing to give them to a good home if you are interested. Contact him if you want some of these frames.

Critique Session

Lou Austerman agreed to do the critique today. We had four members with paintings who took great advantage of Lou’s knowledge!

1. Howard Krauss shared a landscape he painted on location. Lou said the composition and color was good, and the sky was great. He said the center of interest could be emphasized a bit more by lifting out some color and making it lighter on one side or the other.

Lou said the first thing he looks for when doing a critique is the Center of Interest. The second thing he looks for is a 2nd point of interest. For landscapes, the “foreground rule” is that you either look into the foreground or over it.

2. Ginny Hall had a very high key painting to share with us. Lou said high key paintings are hard to pull off because when you are creating your center of interest, the “payoff” comes when you put the lightest light against the darkest dark – and a high key painting may not have enough contrast. He suggested that Ginny “snap” the composition by darkening an area in the left side by generating cast shadows to take our eye into a certain area and help the directional flow.

3. Nancy Wisely brought a very fun abstract acrylic she had created by putting her disposable acrylic palette onto paper and stamping the colors down! We all saw flowers so Lou said to pick a center of interest and take us there by strengthening that one area. Other than a few stems to help us “see” the flowers, that is all that was needed.

4. Marilyn Bishop brought in a beautiful painting of pears and leaves. There was a group “ahhh” for this one. Lou said the dominance was good, she had good unity in the painting, and she had picked a great color combination. The negative shapes helped to define the shapes of the pears and leaves and it worked well. He said “It’s a keeper!” and we all agreed.

Next Meetings Scheduled

November: Nancy Nordloh Neville will be our guest artist/speaker. Nancy will give a demonstration and talk, and will stay after the main program to lead the paint-along session. To get a preview of her work, go to Don’t miss this meeting if you like light-filled watercolors and want to know how to maintain your whites in your paintings.

December: Sandy Maudlin will lead us into winter in a colorful way, teaching us to paint bright cardinals on watercolor paper. She will bring several drawings you can copy if you don’t want to draw your own, or you can paint from one of your own photographs of a cardinal or other favorite bird. Luncheon will be provided for us.

Note: Mary Marxen asked Rhonda to tell the members “goodbye for now” – she is leaving on her regular trip to her Florida home. Mary will return to us next year in the spring, missing all the excitement and fun of a Kentucky/Ohio/Indiana winter!