WORKSHOP REPORT

Report on Greg Allen 2018 workshops
By TOM VAN BODEGRAVEN

I just want to say how much I enjoyed the three-day course with Gregat your excellent venue. Greg is not only brilliant as an artist with his vast knowledge of theory and practice, but he is also a master in teaching.

This is not a common combination at all. Imparting knowledge to others is not a simple thing. I was so impressed with his boundless energy and enthusiasm. Nothing was too much or difficult for him during
these three days. I have learned so much as a result of the course.

I have now so much to work on and to bring new understandings into practice. My mind has not stopped buzzing as a result of Greg’s teaching.

Thanks for organising a course of such calibre.

Greg’s second workshop was outdoors, painting Wellington harbour. The sun obliged! But … for the first two days was accompanied by gale force winds which even lunged into ‘sheltered’ Scorching Bay. Greg was not deterred, even when his easel was blown in two. He loves to teach and has a thinking-man’s take on special techniques which he shares generously.

Day 3 rewarded us with a perfect day. Greg painted until sunset!
Thanks Greg!

Greg Allen Portrait Painting Workshop

Report by David Rodriguez



A model at the Karori Portrait Group once said that over the years he had seen many examples of his brothers and cousins drawn in class. His comment highlighted how difficult it can be to capture a true likeness when painting a portrait.

It was a privilege to spend five days learning the secrets of this complex process with Greg Allen. Greg emphasised the importance of understanding how to draw the five basic shapes: rectangle, tube, cone, sphere and hemisphere. For each shape it is necessary to grasp the principles of how to draw light and shadows. After all, any portrait consists of a combination of those shapes.

Careful observation is vital to producing an accurate drawing. Greg used the analogy of a lawyer in court. The lawyer keeps on asking questions to build up a clear picture. We have to keep on asking questions about the size and proportions of our subject’s features. In this way we can create an accurate drawing.

Our subjects ranged across eras and continents. We began in ancient Rome with a bust of Caligula. Then we moved across the Mediterranean Sea to paint an elderly Greek lady. Greg demonstrated first and then we had a go. There were some lovely representations of ‘Olympia’. We then moved on to painting a little girl – with a fresh round, face. The washes needed to be spot-on for this one. You cannot hide a mistake with a few wrinkles.

How important it is to get the eyes right! On day 5 we faced a challenge from a Masai warrior. The palette being darker for this one – although the highlights were surprisingly light. Next came an elderly Cuban with a white beard smoking a cigar. This time we went first and then Greg demonstrated afterwards. To round things off many of our number painted a family portrait – perhaps the hardest thing of all!

Many thanks to Greg for generously sharing his insights and for his encouragement as we tried to lift our portraits to the next level.

Workshops with Greg Allen - 2013

Greg Allen is one of Australia’s foremost watercolour artists, whose work is represented in many international galleries. He won the prestigious Camberwell Rotary Art Show prize on several occasions. He is also a remarkable teacher who can analyse and explain the features of composition and technique which contribute to excellence.

In April 2013 he held a 4-day outdoor painting workshop in Wellington which was attended by 20 students, including members from Auckland, Gisborne, Nelson and Blenheim, who painted on beaches, in a boat marina and in the streets of Petone.


Copyright © Watercolour New Zealand and its contributors. All Rights Reserved.