True Colors – Why not learn to paint with watercolors?

I recently popped into Bookazine for a map and, on a whim, I picked up a small calendar, Sketches of Hong Kong, by Lorette Roberts. I love the charming watercolor illustrations depicting familiar Hong Kong scenes such the Peak Tram, Sham Shui Po and the Bird Market. After perusing the calendar, I checked Lorette’s website in search of other items. I found that, not only does she offer a number of beautiful books, cards and other items, she was actually in Hong Kong and would be giving several workshops very nearby. What a great opportunity to be able to observe and learn from the artist herself.

The calendar that started it all.
The calendar that started it all.

Lorette lives and has a studio in Suffolk, England where she paints and teaches watercolor, sketching and mixed media. Preferring to to call herself an illustrator rather than an artist, her extensive travels in Asia have resulted in a series of popular sketchbooks about Hong Kong, Singapore and China. On frequent visits to Hong Kong  she captures what she sees in a lighthearted way.

The artist/ illustrator, Lorette Roberts.
The artist/ illustrator, Lorette Roberts.

I’ve always wished that I could paint. I have visions of myself as an eccentric old lady with a gray braid down my back, wearing batik and painting by the north light of a ramshackle studio. Over the years I have taken a couple of watercolor classes. They usually serve as confirmation that I lack the dedication and manual dexterity to be any good at it. Then cold reality sets in and I realise that one does not simply evolve from suburban soccer mom to expat trailing spouse to elderly avant-garde artist with such a minuscule amount of artistic ability. I have as much aptitude for watercolors as I do riding a unicycle while juggling. This did not stop me from signing up for Lorette’s workshop.

I arrived at a studio in Sheung Wan, a cool neighbourhood right next to Central, not far from my apartment. The owner of the studio, an embroidery artist, had provided the venue for Lorette’s classes. An assortment of eclectic art, tasteful furnishings and a large workspace made it perfect for a creative endeavor.

An embroidery studio in Sheung Wan was  the perfect incubator for our creativity.
An embroidery studio in Sheung Wan was the perfect incubator for our creativity.

The class was very free form. Lorette demonstrated techniques and made suggestions but really just let us dabble, offering guidance for what each of us was doing. Some students painted their own creations while some of us did exercises with blending colors, painting shadows and generally doodling. The others were all much more experienced artists than I, but Lorette was very patient, helpful and taught us not just how to work with paint but how to flex our creative muscles. I didn’t come away with some “paint by numbers” masterpiece but I felt like my imagination had been kick-started. It really doesn’t matter if I have any expertise. It’s just fun and I can’t wait to try it again.

Loretteclass-4
A few of the materials we used in class.
Loretteclass-2
Lorette demonstrates a new technique.
Loretteclass-1
Just doodling for a bit helped us learn new techniques.
My “masterpiece” consisted of a page of random experimental images.

Here are a few of the images from the calendar that started it all. To see the rest, order the calendar on Lorette’s website. Better yet, pick up a copy of one of her books either through her website, http://www.loretteroberts.com, or at Bookazine in Hong Kong. I bought the notecards as well but I like them so much that I may just frame them instead of sending them out!

This is the botanical garden near my apartment. Alex works in the large building on the right.
This is the botanical garden near my apartment. Alex works in the large building on the right.
Sham Shui Po is filled with unique shops.
Sham Shui Po is filled with unique shops.
Bustling Peel Street in Central is home to outdoor markets and trendy restaurants.
Bustling Peel Street in Central is home to outdoor markets and trendy restaurants.

(By the way, this is not a sponsored post. I am not being compensated, nor have I received any complimentary merchandise.)

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Nancy Brandt says:

    Can’t wait to share that studio with you, but I’m keeping my grey hair short and wearing denim

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