Goodbye, Terry Harrison

My desire to paint has been spurred and encouraged over the years by several artists, going back in time to watching Nancy Kominsky (remember her?) on TV, as well as Bob Ross among many others, but it’s only since I took up the paintbrush myself that I found contemporary role models in my medium. One in particular has been a great inspiration to me, and that is Terry Harrison – his easy, relaxed style, his subject matter and excellent tuition, both on TV and through his many books. So it was with a very heavy heart I learned last week of his untimely death after a very short illness. The news came as a shock, both to me and to everyone who knew him and his work.

I had the pleasure of meeting him and participating in one of his workshops last October and I am so pleased that I did, that I had that opportunity to meet and be taught by him, it was a longstanding desire since I first started painting. He even gave me a lovely compliment on my earrings (little silver paint palettes). He had a soft, gentle voice, told lots of jokes and made for a relaxed atmosphere in which to work. Terry worked in both acrylics ( my medium) and watercolours. In fact, it was following one of his demonstrations on the SAA Channel that I first attempted to paint a “proper” picture, listening to his instruction as I painted bluebells from the next room. And what was even more exciting was that first painting sold! What I also loved about Terry was that he wasn’t precious over his paintings, and was only too happy for people to copy the subject matter.  His tuition books invariably including tracings of his artwork for people to use.

So, this is my way of saying goodbye to a fabulous artist and person. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time. I know Terry’s work and legacy will long remain.

Goodbye, Terry, and thank you for all you have given me and the world. RIP.

 

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Painting Outside the Box

Occasionally, I like to step outside of my comfort zone with acrylics and try a different medium. Last time, it was with pastels, very enjoyable and rewarding but the dust pastels create and the stress on my arthritic hands proved too much for me to do more. I did try a few pieces at home but none were successful. This time, I ventured into the watercolour pot.

I’d used watercolours before, years ago, back in school, and when I first found my muse a few years ago on a writing weekend but again, not at all satisfying. However, thinking that now I know more about the techniques of painting and colour mixing, decided I could participate in this workshop for the sheer fun of it. Plus it was a good excuse to wear my new earrings!

Thus, a few weeks ago, my favourite contemporary artist, and one whose work has inspired me the most, Terry Harrison, was holding a watercolour workshop in my locality. It was both an opportunity to meet this lovely man in person and learn even more from his talented hands. Terry works in both watercolours and acrylics, and much from one medium is relevant to the other. And for the first time I strode confidently into the hall and took my place at the front, rather than at the back, as I was wont to do a few years back.

cottage-by-terry-harrison
The simple line drawing.

The first part of the morning was given to Terry to paint the picture from scratch through to completion, explaining how, mixing what colours, what brushes to use and order to apply the paint (most important in watercolour, as the light must be done before the dark, unlike in acrylics when it doesn’t matter and anything goes!), and how to solve problems like too much water, masking, plus many techniques and tips. We were all painting the same subject, a Cotswold cottage and garden, drawn by Terry from a photograph. He’d reproduced the simple line drawing on art paper ready for us; it was up to us to turn it into a masterpiece. Well, that was the theory….

Terry is an excellent, patient teacher, very amusing as well as knowledgeable and passionate about his art. His advice and guidance and interception when mine went a bit wrong, was invaluable. Although we all painted the same image, everyone’s final picture was different, and I think I can safely say everyone enjoyed themselves. It was a fun day and I learned a lot but it seemed far too quickly we were all finished and our day was over.

My Workshop Effort

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Extra copies of the outline drawing were available so I purchased one to take home and try again. Already my thoughts were racing away as to what I could do. And I did. I scanned the image and produced another picture, this time turning the summer scene into winter. I used acrylics as I think I would have needed a gallon of masking fluid to keep the white paper white for the snow.

The Cottage in Winter

The cottage in winter

So, would I use watercolours again? Yes, definitely, particularly as I like to go away to hot places and acrylics are difficult to work with in the heat. And also as practice pieces for my acrylic studies. And as I have a box of watercolours lurking in my paint store, I have no excuses. Thank you again, Terry.