|Todd Butt, Vice President of Ohio Watercolor Society|
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
PROGRAM - MAY 4, 2016
President, Kathy Lang, called the May meeting to order, and explained that we would have our Lesson first; followed by the Scholarship Presentation; then our regular meeting.
Claudia Taylor introduced Todd Butt, VP of the Ohio Watercolor Society, and teacher at the Middletown Art Center for the past 9 years. Todd has an interesting background, studying biology at Marietta College, and aspects of “water” at University of Iowa. Since retiring, he has been able to indulge his love of painting and teaching. He paints to have a challenge and to have fun. He aims to hold the viewer’s attention to each of his paintings for longer than the average time of 6 seconds that they usually give to each. He said he finds teaching – especially those “A-ha” moments in the students’ progress, very fulfilling.
Todd says he learned from Homer Hacker that a painter should only spend 15 minutes painting a picture – to give it spontaneity and looseness. Of course, it is essential that the painter must spend a great deal of time preparing and planning said painting. Plan like a turtle; paint like a rabbit. Make all the decisions about composition, lighting, shadows, etc.; and do all your sketching and “trying things out” on old paper first. Then, you can avoid being a “white-knuckled” painter; you can be spontaneous!
Todd did a spontaneous painting at this point. He showed us a little trick for making sure that your paint tube would open easily next time - dip the top of the tube into water so that a bit of water goes into the tube, then put the top back on. He also reminded us that we don’t have to make a 2 inch swatch with a 2 inch brush. He loves “blooms”; makes them on purpose. He had painted this particular scene many times; did it as a vignette, i.e., 3 corners of the paper are left white. He paints for 10-12 minutes quickly; then goes away for a bit. When he comes back, he gets new ideas about the painting. He even “threw” some paint at it.
It was explained that there are many phases of Paint, Paper, and Brushes. We use various combinations of wet and dry of each of the three to give different effects and results.
Sometimes the reason that a painting doesn’t hold the viewer’s interest or attraction is because there is something “wrong” with it; little things that cause the viewer to move on. Todd calls these “Absolutes”, that is – details/elements that are found in our lives and in paintings that when incorrect, annoy the eye of the viewer. These are laws or rules that our brains have experienced to interpret our surroundings as being Natural – solid, safe, together, physically correct and factual. In some expert hands, these rules can be broken to get an effect or a feeling, but usually, it is disturbing to the viewer. Todd gave us a listing of 13 Absolutes that we should avoid in our paintings, or look for in others, and showed how to avoid them. They include such items as Reflections, Perspective, Verticals, Shadows, Depth, and Symmetry.
Todd also urged our members to consider being part of the Ohio Watercolor Society. Four of our GCWS members will have paintings shown in the OWS show in October. He was gracious to do a number of Critiques of members’ paintings. We enjoyed Todd’s Presentation!
Submitted by Joyce Grothaus, Secretary, GCWS, May 2016