15 Aug

October 14 – Re-inventing Impressionism

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MLT Watercolor
watercolor reuse
History Lab discovers a whole new way to

Paint a Landscape Scene

Sunday, October 14th, 1PM to 4PM – FREE

Everyone can picture an artist painting outside at an easel (probably wearing a beret and having some odd mannerisms too–at least in the common cartoon versions many of us know). But what might surprise you is that there’s some history behind the ability to paint outside.

Watercolor was a popular medium for amateurs and fine artists alike from the 18th century onward, when traveling for fun and painting outside in nature started becoming more popular.  Before the introduction of the collapsible paint tube in the second half of the 19th century, it was extremely difficult to travel with oil paint, which typically had to be ground by hand and mixed in an artist’s studio. On the other hand, watercolor paints packed into dry cakes were compact and easy to carry.

The artist in our fall exhibit, Anna Stanley, learned how to paint in oil, but she took up watercolor after she married.  Though we can’t be sure, she might have started using watercolors because she knew that as a mother to young children and a wife of a military officer, she would have to travel frequently and take on a lot of responsibilities. Watercolors, which are quicker and easier to travel with, can capture the immediacy of a moment as well as the complexity of a beautiful landscape.

That’s why we decided to take to the lab to investigate what painting with watercolors en plein air (French for “outside”) was all about. We also wanted to know about how different kinds of paint are made, so we looked into techniques for making oil and watercolor paints. We gathered some supplies and dusted off our easels and now we need your help to complete our historical research.

So what do I do?

We’ll take care of paints, paper, brushes, easels, and an outdoor scene for you to paint (if you’ve visited us before, you know what we’re talking about.) We’ll even have real, live working artists to show you some of their tricks and tips for capturing the moment in watercolor. Feel shy about painting in public? We’ll also have some lightly sketched landscapes that will help you get started.

What do I bring?

All you truly need is your artistic skills and ambitions, but because this workshop involves paints, we recommend wearing clothing that won’t mind a few stains and blotches.

Do I have to be there the whole time?

No! This is a drop-in event and painters are welcome to work for as little or as long as they would like before closing time.

While the paint’s drying (and after you’ve washed your hands, please!), we recommend visiting our Anna Stanley exhibit (or our World War I exhibit), testing your observational skill on our historic house scavenger hunt, or playing one or more of our heritage games.

Questions about this or any other event at the Neill-Cochran House Museum? We’re here to help!