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Laid-Back Painting: Fun with Watercolor Sessions

By Grace Dawson
On October 19, 2018


Painting can sometimes be seen as either a calming release of creativity or a stressful race to get every detail right before anything dries. This dichotomy can sometimes deter would-be artists from the medium, but in the Fun with Watercolor sessions that take place every Wednesday night in Hyde 315, the laid-back atmosphere produces a feeling of calm without the stress of rushing to perfection. 

“The teachers [I had] usually completed a whole painting and then told the students to go and do it,” instructor Cliff Gleason says. “I found it hard to remember all the different steps, so when I got to teach I would just teach one step at a time…and then people were surprised at the results that they got. That made it very rewarding.” He finds that painting step-by-step is more encouraging and more relaxing to his students. 

“I got started in watercolor when I was in university in Michigan working on my Master’s degree, and I was just tired of books,” Gleason says, “and I was in the bookstore and I walked past some watercolor paint sets and thought ‘that looks like fun.’” He took several classes over the years after painting several amateur pieces during his time at graduate school. He recommends painting as a relaxing escape from studies and an artistic outlet. 

In teaching his own classes, he first draws outlines of the paintings, taken from photos he’s taken, so that anyone who comes into the class can paint within those guiding lines without stressing about drawing the picture themselves. He also walks his students through the process of each painting, carefully explaining and demonstrating the techniques he uses. Examples of paintings that have been previously done in this year’s class are a seaside villa landscape and a collection of flowers on a bush, while upcoming projects include ocean waves and more landscapes. 

The Fun with Watercolor painting workshop is held on Wednesdays in Hyde Hall, room 315 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. All supplies (paints, paper, brushes, and water) are provided (plus free pizza).


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