Tuesday, May 17, 2011

James Toogood

This past week I got the opportunity to attend James Toogood's workshop in New Orleans.  I always find it fascinating to see how master artists paint, their methods, and procedures.  Mr. Toogood was fascinating to watch.  He is extremely detailed, precise and knowledgeable about the medium of watercolor.  He begins the process with a perfectly accurate drawing.  He plays with the composition adding things in to a photo reference, taking things out and sometimes making things up. He is after the perfect composition.  He also has a little whimsy and fun adding in funny text on signs.  He also likes to play and make little abstract paintings where he can within his perfectly precise image (in reflections of the water or in chrome or metal).  His passion for paints shines through.  He talked in depth about the actual make up of the paints.  Read the labels you will be surprised, it will help you to understand what color you are actually using.

I took away a lot of great info and was fascinated with his process.  A few things that I will be incorporating is more underpainting.  He also would put a light on top of a dark, which for watercolor is a little different.  I have to say I was a little taken a back when I saw him do this.  He is not afraid to use a full body paint and really apply heavy paint.  I will also be utilizing my ruling pen, which I haven't used since my Graphic Design days in college.  Another good tip I picked up is to print out your reference in different versions, a lighter, medium and darker photo.  Helps you to see what's in the shadow and let you make better decisions in what effect you want to achieve.  His workshop was also a nice refresher in perspective, particularly thinking about atmospheric perspective.

I didn't get very much painting done during the workshop but I'm anxious to put these tips to use.  I have a commission piece to work on first, but will soon get to my workshop painting. 

Mr. Toogood didn't complete a painting in class he showed us different techniques as his demos, so I found this on-line.  Here is the link to the article.

Hope everyone has a fabulous week.

Happy Creating,



  1. So I think Blogger just ate my comment. Now I have to try and remember what I said. This makes me angry. Anywho. . . Sounds like you had a great time at the workshop! And that you learned a lot, I'll be interested to see how you incorporate what you learn there. I love that light over dark technique, I think I'll have to try that. I know Jean Pederson does something similar. And I do the same thing with my ref photos! I practically overexpose one, underexpose the other, then get one in between. I like to have options. :)

    P.S. Good luck with your commission!

    P.P.S. I heard you went to Cafe Du Monde and I'm a little miffed that you did not overnight me a beignet! (totally kidding) :D Glad you had a good time.

  2. whats this i hear..you are overnighting beignets to your best watercolorist friends....

    So glad to hear you enjoyed the workshop.Light over dark????

  3. Carrie, I really enjoyed reading about your workshop. The progress photos are fascinating. What a great idea about the reference photos.

  4. Une publication très intéressante et un partage qui est loin de me déplaire...
    J'aime voir le travail des aquarellistes qui me fascine. Je suis complètement nulle avec l'aquarelle. Je ne sais pas comment la travailler et le peu que j'ai réalisé je l'ai fait à l'instinct.
    Quel beau travail que celui que vous nous avez montré. Gros bisous.

  5. Thanks Carie for sharing your experience. The light over dark thing.. Is it kind of gauche? And all the best with your commission work too. Did steven also attend the workshop?? :)

  6. Mr. Toogood's name certainly is in keeping with his skills. I had a dentist named Les Payne once. kidding. anyway great post carrie! Thanks so much for sharing. You've helped me get over some of my watercolor phobia! Good luck with the commission. Can't wait to see more of your work.

  7. I love seeing the steps in this!!! Great that you could take a workshop with James Toogood. I love his work and I'm glad to hear you picked up a few pointers.

  8. Carrie, thank you for a wonderful and informative post! The painting progress photos are great, and the tips are good. I can hardly wait to see how you incorporate the ideas into your work.

  9. Wow - Mt Toogood certainly seems to live up to his name!
    The painting is brilliant - complex - precise - almost photographic! :0)

  10. I loved seeing the development of this painting. So much detail!

  11. Very cool, Carrie - sounds like a great workshop!
    Have a wonderful wknd! xo

  12. Thanks for sharing. Is name fits him well.....he is too Good!

  13. Wonderfully detailed and so spot on.
    I had a teacher who painted realism and I learned so much.

  14. Incredible work of art! Thank you Carrie for sharing. I know how much work those details take. Wonderfully done!

  15. Amazing work! So great!
    xo E + J