The Paint Mojo experience with Tracy Verdugo was my first ever art workshop. Where I have I been all my life? Along with 20 other artists who had travelled from different parts of the UK I enjoyed a two day journey into Tracy’s process for intuitive painting at Brighton’s Hannover Centre.
I had come across Tracy’s book ‘Paint Mojo’ at around the same time as discovering the work of Flora Bowley. Having just been through Flora’s wonderful e-course I was wondering what similarities there might be, especially as Tracy told us that her first art workshop was with Flora a few years back.
Both artists start with encouraging you to break rules, to be brave and not to worry about perfection or comparison. There is a similar sense that you need to trust in process and not get too hung up on end results.
What I loved about Tracey’s workshop was the emphasis on creating a backdrop embedded with personal symbols that we were all encouraged to keep bringing back into the paintings as we progressed.
I had given this a little bit of thought before the workshop began, almost like doing homework, and prepared a selection of symbols that are reoccurring images in many of my own paintings. These included palm trees (my obsession), flowers, leaves, palm fronds, twigs, pebbles, grass, seeds, seed heads, water symbols including waves, flowing rivers and rain… so there is a bit of a theme going on here around growth and life and so on.
The course introduced me to a new mark maker, a bamboo skewer – I’ve always used a range of tools but this was a first and lovely for teasing out tiny delicate lines from dribbled acrylic ink. I am astounded that I had not used this medium before…the colours are so vibrant – they give a depth to the acrylic paints and come in a wonderful selection of colours.
I went off piste towards the end of the first day when we were encouraged to calm the paintings down and block out marks with opaque colours – the painting was looking a bit lifeless suddenly so I just reintroduced more marks and colours.
On the second day we returned to our paintings and at this point we were encouraged to search for imagery that we could develop. It’s amazing what you can find if you stare hard enough at an abstraction of randomness.
Tracy then showed us how she defines imagery using an ink dropper to draw in motifs and then a wash brush to bring the motifs into sharp focus. Her painting demo was an underwater theme that she is currently using as a series and it was lovely to watch how this really accomplished artist gently feels her way around the canvas, looking out for little bits of magic to start happening, happy accidents of colour juxtapositions just waiting to be found.
I’m so glad I went on this course. I made friends with lovely intuitive artist Clare Wassermann who I had been following on Instagram who had been travelling a similar artistic journey for the past year or so. Read more about Clare’s beautiful work on her blog here. http://clarewassermannart.com
I came away from the course feeling uplifted and inspired yet very conscious that there are elements to take away and elements to leave behind. The intuitive process as defined by Verdugo and Bowley has it’s basis in mark making and freeing up followed by ‘calming the canvas down and looking for images (Verdugo) and ‘working with what’s working’ (Bowley). Details about Tracy Verdugo workshops can be found here. http://tracyverdugo.com
I still think you can paint intuitively without it all being so random and also with your subject in front of you and this is where I think I am going to be taking my work during it’s next phase.
Here is my almost finished painting from the course and another canvas that I worked on during the following couple of days.
‘Flowers for an Angel’ 76 x 76 cm mixed media on canvas
‘Discovering love’ 30 x 30 cm mixed media on canvas