Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society
Program Notes          
10:00 am May 3, 2017
Peggy Bishop
Program Chair, Claudia Taylor introduced our May program presenter, Peggy Bishop.  Peggy credits her love of watercolor to her mother, our own Marilyn Bishop.  Peggy has established her own watercolor path and we were pleased to see her range of skills.  Peggy lives near Lexington, Kentucky and her career has ranged over numerous directions such as chemistry, micro-biology, cancer research and programming.

She loves to travel and collect images along her trails for future paintings.  She counts the South Carolina lowlands and Bluegrass countryside as influences for many of her pieces.

In the past, Peggy has also painted detailed still lifes of crystal glass among other subjects.  Her current interest has led to working in urban landscapes.  She has studied in workshops with Paul Jackson, a renowned colorist; Iain Stewart, famed architectural illustrator/artist and Keiko Tanabe, whose portfolio features many international landscape subjects.  These influences have moved Peggy to working looser.  One of her current influences is Jeremy Mann, and oil painter who works in deep value cityscapes and night scenes.

Peggy described her typical process in organizing her reference images for a painting. 
She likes to use an IPad to modify the qualities of photos.  She applies various filters to an image to dial up or down the value, saturation and hue as well as focus, texture and pattern.

For her presentation, Peggy continued to work on an in-progress aerial perspective scene as viewed from the Space Needle tower in downtown Seattle.   She chose to use a painting that was already started so that we could see some of the critical steps of her painting process in the short time of the demonstration.  This is a painting subject that she has painted before in demonstrations in an exploration of patterns, colors, values and emphasis.  The focus of her exploration in this demo is to better establish the center of interest.

 This Seattle scene carefully established prominent city streets as the organizing compositional element, shifting a key intersection, off center into the lower left Law of Thirds point of the painting.   She originally started with gradient washes for the building shapes, followed by delineation of the materials and shapes of the window patterns.  In some cases, she utilized masking tape to set key edges and highlights.  For the majority of the painting, she painted the building lines free hand so it wouldn’t look too tight throughout the piece.  As she demonstrated some parts of her technique, Peggy explained that she likes to scumble pigment into areas of the painting to develop texture.  She will also drop pigment into wet lines for variation.  She explained that her use of soft and hard edges varies with the image and her emphasis of the center of interests within each piece.  Some buildings/windows were done painting negatively to maintain the light building color against the darker window.

The base color palette for this demo piece created the majority of the painting.  She utilized a special accent color, June Bug Blue, as a turquoise glow for the feature building against the Thalo Blue color tint of the overall cityscape to punch her center of interest.  This worked successfully to add interest, accent and variation of hue, all reinforcing her composition.  In her use of color, Peggy says that she typically likes to work with a lot of color, but in this case, the minimal color palette set up her composition.  Her approach to value is to include deep, dark values at an early point in her painting process.  It allows her to measure the rest of the values of the painting against the darkest parts.

She works with a variety of paint manufacturers depending on the quality of the paint color.  In this demo painting, Peggy has a very limited palette, utilizing Raw Sienna, Thalo Blue, Windsor Newton Neutral Tint (has a blueish cast), June Bug Blue (American Journey Paints) and Cad Red accents. 

Peggy doesn’t mind using cheap brushes for certain techniques.  She also uses the Princeton Neptune No. 8, a Paul Jackson Kayak Brush and a synthetic Robert Simmons white sable among others.

Peggy used a hair dryer to facilitate the workability of some portions of painting for demo.

We certainly enjoyed watching Peggy’s process as she took us through her thinking as she deftly delineated this complex urban streetscape scene.  I’m sure we will see Peggy again and catch up with her current projects in her journey in watercolor.

For our next Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society meeting on June 7th, we will be hosting Heidi Hanssen, another prominent local watercolor artist as she shows us how she achieves her wonderful compositions and gorgeous realism.  See you then.

Submitted by Tom Schroeder, Secretary, Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society, April 2017.

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