Helen Shafer Garcia, April 19-22, 2018, Watercolor Media

Watercolor Media

Her love for nature

Helen Shafer Garcia brought 8 guests to the ranch in May for her 4th Baja workshop. Her whimsical style shows her love for nature found in the landscape. She currently works with watercolor, pastel, and mixed media to create contemporary nature-inspired images on paper. Her travel journals showcase iconic folklore images.

Helen showed us how to create simple contour drawings in the garden area. Succulents make interesting models with their large shapes and basic forms. Some of us created blended compositions of 2 or 3 on a page, using a neutral water-soluble pen.

Helen is an outstanding instructor, understands the potential of watercolor, and had set us up to succeed. After washing in a second layer of color, we watched the interaction of ink and pigment. In just a few hours, we had very nice botanical studies to work from.
A visit to Las Nubes and Vena Cava wineries was followed up with a stop at the cheese shop for some locally produced gourmet cheeses.

Saturday morning we set up near a huge opuntia cactus with beautiful yellow blooms. We were encouraged to use the cactus as the major focus of the painting– it brought drama to the composition. The flow of the watercolor pigments married the subject to the background beautifully.

Soon, it was time for lunch. That’s one of the pleasures of staying at the Ranch for a workshop. We don’t need to drive to get a meal…it’s all prepared for us, on our schedule.

Later, Helen showed us how to create two or three little paintings along the margins of the cactus study. It turned simple cactus paintings into visual journals about a special time and place.

Sunday morning after brunch we gathered in the barn to carve a small stamp based on simple forms. The stamps were inked and printed onto the paintings we’d made. It was a beautiful ending to a creative and fun workshop weekend. Thanks, Helen!

As we packed up to leave the Ranch, everyone agreed we’d learned a lot and had lovely paintings and memories to take home. We were wishing for just one more day, but we’ll just have to return when Helen comes back in May of 2019. Watch this space!

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