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Review: Catherine Watters’ Rose Painting Class

Clara Josephs 

I spent two delightful and enlightening days at Filoli in July taking Catherine Watters’ class on painting roses.  Catherine is on the Board of Directors of ASBA and a teacher in the new Botanical Art Certificate Program at Filoli.  Her classes sell out fast, so I was glad to get a seat. We began our first day with a tour of the annual exhibit.  BAGSC was well represented, both in number and quality.  Christina, Nancy B., Akiko, Sue, and Gilly had paintings in the show.

Back upstairs in the class, Catherine demonstrated the correct use of dividers to measure our choice of rose specimens.  She circulated constantly throughout the class, making sure every student received their share of attention. By the end of the first day, most students had their composition tea-washed and ready to paint.  I was able to complete my simple subject by the end of the second day and was thrilled with all I had learned.  Catherine uses a limited palette of (Winsor Newton) Alizarin, Crimson, French Ultra, Winsor Violet, Perm Rose, Neutral Tint, Burnt Umber, Hooker’s Green, and Holbein’s Gamboge Nova.  She recommends using those 20 cent plastic round palettes with 10 compartments, keeping each color (greens, reds, yellows) on a separate palette. Color is built slowly, with as many as 10 thin washes.  Shadows are a mixture of French Ultramarine and Neutral Tint applied in almost transparent layers. Some intense points of shadow are accented by graphite delicately applied and the sealed with a wash.  Catherine’s beautiful green “mother mix” is made from a mix of Hooker’s Green, Gamboge Nova, Burnt Umber, and Neutral Tint.  Her acronym for this recipe is “Get Your Botanicals Now (green, yellow, brown, neutral tint).

At the end of our second day we admired the array of beautiful works the class had produced.  I was thrilled with how much was accomplished in only 2 days and I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to return to Filoli!

The next day we headed to Alcatraz to see “The Softer Side of the Rock – The Historic Gardens of Alcatraz” exhibit by 18 artists in the Botanical Illustration Program at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, directed by Mary Harden  These 38 paintings, while painted is a somewhat looser style than we are used to, were vibrantly colored and strikingly composed.

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