Controlled Spontaneity

There is some anticipation when you sign up for a workshop. I have heard the name Charles Reid from the time I started painting with watercolor and he was coming to Utah.

Charles Reid in Cache Valley

Charles Reid in Cache Valley


There is so much to learn in a week. I tried to capture all the information in my sketch book and watch how he painted through binoculars. It was suggested in the equipment list for the workshop and proved very helpful. I could see how he mixed the paint on his paper and made his washes and how he used his brush even from the back row.
Charles Reid painting still life.

Charles Reid painting still life.


I love to see people work who have worked for a long time. There is an expertise in motion, flick and spatter of brush. You can learn a lot from watching how painters put color on the paper and use their brush. You learn from watching how they work and you learn things that can’t be taught from a book.
Charles Reid painting at worshop in Cache Valley

Charles Reid painting at worshop in Cache Valley


There is also what you learn when you try to apply what you’ve watched and incorporate it into your technique of painting and bring it in to enhance how you paint. I have noticed that some of the painters who look like they attack the paper and fling paint around on their paper also are very careful and controlled in some areas, much more controlled than you would realize.
Charles Reid's palette filled with fresh paint. He dipped his brush in and put it on the paper.

Charles Reid’s palette filled with fresh paint. He dipped his brush in and put it on the paper.


People want to capture that loose free feeling in their paintings. Charles Reid called it controlled spontaneity. So even though Charles’ paintings look free and loose there were times when he was very slow and controlled and careful when he puts paint onto the paper. At other times he flicked his brush and the spatter went out and around making a perfect shape of the feather. Now that is controlled spontaneity.
Charles Reid painting from the model in Cache Valley

Charles Reid painting from the model in Cache Valley


A couple of things that I personally learned from the workshop were don’t be afraid of the white of the paper. It can enhance your paintings and make them vibrant. It is a great advantage to be continually sketching in your sketch book. It helps you to see angles and shapes quickly and put them down on paper.
Here is my painting from the model at the Charles Reid Workshop.

Here is my painting from the model at the Charles Reid Workshop.


And last of all don’t be afraid of pure pigment. Thanks to Charles Reid and his wife for a great week of learning and getting to know them both better.
This is my painting from the Plein Air Day of the Charles Reid Watercolor Workshop in Cache Valley

This is my painting from the Plein Air Day of the Charles Reid Watercolor Workshop in Cache Valley

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About Sherry Meidell

Sherry Meidell is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society Western Federation Watercolor Society and the Utah Watercolor Society. She loves to paint with watercolor whether she is painting pictures or illustrating children's picture books. She is a member of SCBWI. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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