Mark Waller came back to lead his second painting retreat in August. His week is called Discovery, Inspiration, Technique. Here’s his account of how he covered all three:
Coming back to Daku was a little bit like coming home. It’s so easy to slot into “Daku Time”. Seeing all the people there was a bit like I’d only left a week or two ago. And Aubrey, what a legend. Great laugh.
It’s really easy to be in that place. Coconut trees. Tropical water. Balmy nights and great company. Oh yeah, and the painting.
This year was a great experience for me. We basically lost ourselves in painting the tropics. It was a discovery for me too. I started painting things that I hadn’t before, thanks to the eye of a couple of the participants in the class. Banana leaves are my new friends.
My primary approach is about teaching people to look. Regardless of your skill level, we tend to look at the world in very defined ways, and often miss out on magic. From a painting point of view, that magic does a few things. Including that magic in your work adds life, colour and a profound connection to all things. The other thing it does is, it excites. Teaching people to paint when they’re excited is easy. Learning is easy.
Using a brush well comes down to mastering a few simple skills. While the process of making a painting can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be. And mastering those skills certainly makes it easier. Simplification is the key. Both beginners and more advanced painters find it useful to simplify. We spent some time working on these skills, building them into paintings and exercises.
One of the great things about painting in the tropics is that it’s easy to be fearless when using colour. None of those subdued, muted tones. Flashes of bright, strong colour just seem to work here.
One of the highlights for me is always the morning snorkelling session, followed by painting what we see. I forgot how beautiful the painters “special spot” is. Breathtaking. And FUN to paint! Really looking forward to coming next year.