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Painting 'loose' with Katharine Montstream

Earlier this month, I had the great fortune of attending a workshop with Katharine Montstream; but as Vermont weather can do to you, the rain and wind prevented us from staying along the shore for our plein air adventure, so we went back to the Shelburne Craft School.

Katharine Montstream's work is beautiful - many Vermonters have her prints in their home (us included); so it was so nice to get to watch her paint.

Her mentor and teacher of many years was Larry Goldsmith and she brought his book:  Watercolor: Bold and Free to our workshop to show his work and influence.  His work is shared in the book and he is seemingly ahead of his time.

Some things that were part of her teaching repertoire included painting/scraping with a credit card to create fine lines in definition with rocky shores, for example.  Works great!  Also, using the back of your thin brush on wet paint to cut the stems of flowers in - if you can do it right you get a nice white line in the paint.  She paints very loose - brushing the wash on the paper and having the water run back and forth to create the sky - always going bolder than you want as it will dry lighter.  

Her motto that stuck for me was - it is paper.  If you don't like it; start a new one.  Don't waste time fixing something that isn't worth fixing.  When we were doing stilllifes, she put her background color in after the vase/flowers were on the paper, leaving white around flowers so it doesn't all run together.  She has a great eye for seeing what the paint is doing and how to make it work.  

Fran came with me and we both enjoyed it - actually saw a few different folks we knew from the area there.  It seems the best painters get OUTSIDE to paint. She recently posted a photo of herself this weekend in the snow getting a painting in that later needed to defrost!    She is not a perfectionist, but definitely has a keen eye and her very fluid strokes and movement create a work of art every time.  She works fast! These were my paintings from the experience.  (I hate painting flowers - but it was still fun - quite the testament!).

- Lauren

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