Watercolorist Wiegardt to host painting workshop

<I>DAMIAN MULINIX file photo</I><BR>Eric Weigardt will be teaching his watercolor technique and philosophy this weekend.

OCEAN PARK - What better way to get an edge with your art, regardless of whether you are a novice or experienced painter, then learning from a master? This weekend local artist Eric Wiegardt is offering that opportunity.

A member of both the prestigious National and American Watercolor Societies, Wiegardt is highly regarded throughout the art world for his paintings, many of which are created in his Ocean Park studio. He will be hosting a three-day watercolor workshop this weekend, April 21 through 23, at the Sunset View Resort.

Hosting workshops has become a way for Wiegardt to supplement his income from art sales at his gallery. He schedules around a dozen workshops a year, including four held locally. He has taught classes around the United States, as well as abroad - he has workshops scheduled over the next two years in Europe. Wiegardt said what you can expect from his class is, basically, to learn how to paint - the Wiegardt way.

"I will try to reflect my philosophy which reflects my schooling, as well as my technique," he said. "The students will have the opportunity to paint and I will then give them my opinion on their paintings."

He said the things he will cover most extensively are things he has noticed that students repeatedly have missed in his instruction over the years. One of these things can be the presence of detail in certain areas of paintings.

"They tend to look at the way to solve their problems is 'out here,' but really it's something very basic and simple up front here," he said. "There's a lot of misunderstanding of what makes a good painting because they're looking in the wrong place."

He gave an example, saying that many times students will want to make the grass in a picture overly detailed by painting a bunch of grass or lines, or a tree by painting all the branches.

"That's not where the answer is," he said. "The answer is understanding the shape and the light and dark relationship to the sky and ground. If you get that relationship right you can throw in three blades of grass or 10,000."

The style and technique that he specializes in is bold "free" watercolor, that have a very impressionist feel to them.

"Most students come because they want to 'loosen up.' They get trapped making it look like a photograph. But art is much broader defined then that," he said.

Despite the somewhat sterile atmosphere of a workshop, Wiegardt said the environment can indeed be a good place for creating paintings, as well as taking large strides in proficiency.

"I don't measure the success of the workshop by what your painting looks like by the end," he said. "If you're going to make mistakes I want you to have the freedom to make big mistakes. If a student can learn to make big mistakes then they're probably going to progress pretty rapidly."

Wiegardt said his workshops draw and are tailored toward painters of all skill levels, noting that he has taught very experienced painters, as well as those just starting out.

"I'm not really looking at their skill level, I'm really looking more for an attitude," he said. "Give me a beginner with a good attitude and I can work with them."

As for his own work, Wiegardt says he just paints it and lets the market decide whether they like it or not.

"I paint it the way I see it, the way I feel about it at the time," he said.

As far as what Wiegardt has going on in the future, he said it's all "kind of open out there, unsure, unclear. I still enjoy the very loose, spontaneous aspects of watercolor and just keep pushing it in that direction."

He said he has considered making a switch from time to time, moving towards realism or a different medium, but always puts it off.

"Many times I'll say, 'you know, I think I'll do a very realistic painting today.' But than I say, 'no, not today, I'll do that another day.' And I've been playing that game for 20 years," he said.

Wiegardt said he tried oil paints some time ago and just didn't enjoy it, though he said he could see himself trying some acrylic paints sometime perhaps.

Other new things he is trying are very large paintings, in the range of 40"x50." He is also looking at ways to mount and display his paintings without glass.

"There's a misconception out in the market that watercolor is a delicate medium, and it's really not," he said, noting that this may have been the case 100 years ago, but now with the type of paint and paper - which is a canvas-based product - this is no longer the case. "I would say they would stand up to oil paintings, maybe even more so."

There is still space available for the workshop this weekend, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day. For more information on the workshop, call 665-5976, or see (www.ericwiegardt.com).

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