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Watercolor Loose & Lively! MIKE KOWALSKI AWS NWS

This workshop will start with a discussion of the materials and techniques Mike uses in outdoor watercolor work—the choices he makes and why. Days will be then be divided into two sessions: finding and defining a subject through thumbnail sketches; then working these sketches into a painting with the aim to complete a minimum of two paintings per day. Mike will do at least one demo per day and spend as much time as possible addressing the individual needs of each student. Come prepared to paint, be challenged…and to learn!This workshop will be Plein air, with some indoor studio time. Beginners thru advanced welcome! Tho a five day plein air class can seem daunting to a beginner, Mike has had many students who have really boosted their work by meeting the challenge of daily painting outdoors…go for it!You’ll learn to identify a dynamic painting subject and build a painting based around it. Whether you’re painting a windswept coast, or in the middle of town, the components that make for a quality painting are the same; composition, drawing, value, color, and edges. Mike often chooses specific challenges for students to address: capturing shadow and light, depicting water, solving perspective problems or understanding boats.You will spend time improving your drawing skills…a critical part of good painting. Mike will discuss his color palette and the essentials of color mixing as he walks you through the individual steps he takes in painting a watercolor. He’ll talk about brushwork, and those edges! Mike will do daily demos; they will help you understand how to think about and solve problems quickly in painting a watercolor. He will also discuss the relative merits of various papers, paints, pigments and brushes; everything you need to know!

Mike’s aim is for you to find subject matter you’ll find both challenging and enjoyable to paint. In his words: “Nature is the best classroom I can think of and we will use it to our advantage. My favorite watercolors are those which celebrate the medium; a simple vibrant mix of pigment, paper and water, loose and lively! My workshops are a combination of observation, concentration, inspiration and above all else, fun. I hope you can join me.”

Artist’s Statement: “I have been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. Growing up as one of five boys, if I wasn’t building a wooden pirate ship with my brothers, I was probably in the backyard drawing. I started entering art shows as a teen,eventually earning a BFA from Utah State University.  Raised in California and for many years calling Marrowstone Island, WA home, since 2014, I divide my time between studios there and in Australia and love my travels on the dusty roads of the West, sketching and painting.  My work is influenced by John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper, Ogden Pleissner, Emile Kosa Jr. and many of the great illustrators including N.C. Wyeth and Dean Cornwell. I’m passionate about drawing and painting, especially in watercolor, a medium easy to pick up but difficult to master, tho I think the best watercolorists paint with supreme confidence! I can think of few things I enjoy more than the challenge of painting outdoors with my simple array of brushes, paper and paint, a challenge I can lose myself in for hours.”     


Mike is an award-winning artist with an international following. He is a Signature Member of National Watercolour Society (NWS) and American Watercolour Society (AWS), and teaches at the Victorian Artists Society in Melbourne. In 2015, Mike won the coveted Silver Medal of Honour at the 148th AWS International Exhibition in New York. He teaches internationally and in the U.S.  In 2015 he was awarded the coveted Silver Medal of Honor at the 148th AWS International Exhibition in New York, and in 2018 was invited to exhibit in the Masters of Watercolor exhibition in St. Petersburg, Russia.