Abstract watercolor workshop

I spent a great day participating in an Abstract Watercolor Workshop at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto last Sunday. The instructor was Robert Dvorak. I felt it was the art class I never took in high school. The workshop was very well planned out. There were different exercises to complete, as well as time to take a look at everyone’s work.

I went into this workshop with an open mind. It was the first time I really worked with watercolors. I’m pretty intimidated by drawing and subjects, so I figured the abstract part would help me explore a new medium without having to draw still life or landscape.

It was a really fun workshop and I learned a lot. It helped that there were plenty of other beginners in the class. Robert was super patient and also emphasized an important part of creating art – smile and have fun!

I left the class with the courage to continue exploring abstract watercolors. I also came away with a few pieces of finished work!



During one of the breaks, I chatted a bit with Robert as he was admiring a piece of work. I looked at it and recognized it immediately as my calligraphy teacher’s painting. I told Robert this and he mentioned that he learned from Mr. Ho in the 1980s. Mr. Ho is my calligraphy teacher’s teacher as well. It’s a small world!

Our workshop seemed to come at an opportune time. Robert mentioned the Science Friday episode from the Friday before our workshop discussed abstract art and the brain. The guest was  Eric Kandel, the author of  Reductionism in Art and Brain Science. A key thing I took away from the discussion was that the more abstract a painting is, the more people need to use their imagination to interpret it. Also, people find it more enjoyable since they are using their own experience and thoughts.

I sent my parents some pictures of the work I did. My mom texted me saying that she showed my dad the pictures while explaining the technique used to make the painting. Apparently my dad wondered out loud if I did the paintings or if I took pictures of the teacher’s work. I’m not sure if there was a confusion in the conversation between my parents, but I’ll take that as a complement!

I had a lot of fun taking this workshop. There’s still more for me to explore, but this definitely gave me a good starting point. I’m not quite sure how I will integrate this with my calligraphy, or if I will integrate it at all. I also want to try to apply the things I learned in this workshop to Chinese painting. There’s so much more out there to try!


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