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July 4, 2017

Peggy Burkosky “Lighting and Mood in Street Scenes” Phoenix Art Workshop Sept 15 – 17

Phoenix Art Workshop

Weekend Workshops
This is the first in a series of Weekend workshops introducing some extraordinary guest instructors. The workshops will feature a Friday night lecture and demonstration, followed by a two day workshop.

Our first artist is a very talented watercolour painter and fantastic instructor from Vancouver Island
Peggy Burkosky – “Lighting and Mood in Street Scenes”
Friday Night Demo, September 15:  7pm – 9:30 pm
Saturday, September 16  9:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday, September 17 9:00am – 4:00pm
Internationally-recognized watercolour painter Peggy Burkosky shares years of painting experience in this intensive weekend workshop. Students will explore strategies and techniques for clarifying light and shadows, learning to alter mood and atmosphere while simplifying perspective and value drawings.
Friday night demo only $10 ( priority seating is given to students registered for the workshop – All classes are held at our third-floor Studio at 12211 First Avenue, Steveston British ColumbiaRegistration is first-come, first-served — Phoenix Art Workshop – register in store, by phone at 604-448-1860, or by emailing sales@phoenixartworkshop.com
July 4, 2017

Join the Festivities – Sept 23 / 24 2017 Steveston Grand Prix

Winner 2015 Grand Prix of Art, Steveston by Peggy Burkosky

Rain or shine it’s that time again! I’m happy to hook up with this action-packed event. The great thing about these events is that you can hang out with the artist and watch a free demo, ask a few questions and get charged up to go do it yourself. The picturesque Japanese fishing village of Steveston, situated at the mouth of the mighty Fraser River, is the stunning location for the 7th annual Grand Prix of Art, Steveston. Nestled between 100-year old cannery buildings, boat-works, and largest gillnet fishing feet in North America. This idyllic waterfront community is straight out of the pages of a John Steinbeck novel and the event has become a model for many similar events across BC and the Pacific Northwest. Over 100 artists of all ages and experience levels join us for a day of intense fun and competition, as artist race against the clock in this three-hour painting challenge.
7th Annual Grand Prix of Art, Steveston
Saturday, September 23 – 24, 2017
Presented by Phoenix Art Workshop and the Travellingbrush.com
in partnership with the City of Richmond, local businesses, and an amazing community.

The Event: Saturday, September 23rd is “Race Day.” competitors arrive at Britannia Heritage Shipyards for check-in at 9:00am, easels and art supplies in tow, artists are assigned a painting location by random draw and then head out to their locations for the start of the grueling competition. The painting race begins at exactly 10am and at 1:00pm artists are ask to put down their brushes, return to the shipyards, and prepare their paintings for display and adjudication. All our partners, artists and volunteers are treated to an amazing lunch, with an invitation to the general public to join us for live entertainment, the award ceremony and the sale and display of artwork.

Awards are presented to top artists in both adult and youth categories, with over $2000 in cash awards and prizes. Registered photographers are encouraged to document the entire event, uploading 5 unedited images for our photo essay contest before the stroke of midnight, adding to the excitement and the thrill of competition.

The exhibition will remain on display in the historic Seine Net-Loft at Britannia Heritage Shipyards on Sunday, September 24th from noon until 4:00pm. Hundreds of people are expected enjoy artists painting on location during race day or to visit the exhibition casting their votes for the People’s Choice Award (presented at 3:00pm Sunday September 24th, along with the “Best Photo Essay,” “Best Overall Photo,” and our “Instagram to Win” contest winners.

For More Information on the Steveston Grand Prix of Art, please visit event web site:


July 4, 2017

Classic Asian Brushwork For Watercolours

Kiwako Yamazaki Burkosky

What a rewarding experience it has been to search out traditional painting methods in Japan. Being somewhat of an advocate for respecting classic studies, you can imagine our delight when my daughter-in-law Kiwako and I just visited the June 2017 Exhibition of International Sumi-e Association. Just as we walked in the entrance we heard the announcement that a live demo of master painters was about to start. It turned out to be more than that – it was a hands-on workshop and of course we jumped in! Kiwako painted this with confidence and accuity – she has obviously done this before! I admire the brevity of expressive strokes. Basically, all the strokes done in this piece are either “Zouhou” – upright brush, or “Rohou” – oblique brush. Zouhou is painted with the brush held completely perpendicular to the paper. Rohou is painted with the brush held at an acute left or right angle to the paper. The gradation of dark to light is achieved by loading the tip of the brush with ink and adding extra water to the brush tip as needed.

Sumi-e painting, which refers to any ink painting derived from Asian brush techniques, embraces classic calligraphic brushwork. Originating in China over 6000 years ago as calligraphy, it went beyond the written symbol to images and pictures which influences ink painting throughout the world to this day.

Traditional sumi-e is painted on rice paper or washi – both derived from natural plant materials such as cotton, linen, bark, and bamboo. Naturally 100% rag cotton watercolour paper is an excellent support with a similar organic feel.

Think of calligraphy as a design element (line) that varies in width with variation of expression – slow and deliberate, quick and expressive, thick, thin or gradated, curved or straight, rough or smooth. All of these strokes can be produced through any watercolour brush, and I literally mean any brush since even a “flat” vs a “round” will produce interesting results.

A fabulous and free resource for further study: The Project Gutenberg EBook of On the Laws of Japanese Painting by Henry P. Bowie. This book has an excellent overview of the various Japanese painting styles and mentions the use of line in another classic style somewhat similar to line-work used in Art Nouveau.



This simple exercise includes Rohou and Zouhou strokes. Most often the larger upright components of the bamboo stalk are painted from bottom to top in Rohou strokes. Leaves are painted upwards or downwards in Zouhou strokes.

Garden Boughs by Peggy Burkosky

Now let’s see how those brush strokes work so well in the watercolour medium. I like to think of the strokes as much like practicing a golf swing (although I’ve never mastered golfing yet I can appreciate the principle!). Loading the brush with heavy pigment at the tip, brevity of strokes, creating distance with lighter values – it all adds up the same way as painting in a classic manner.
















Kaburaki Kiyokata 

Here we see yet another classic use of line illustrated here in a style called BIJIN-GA (pictures of beautiful woman), created in the early 1900s by Kaburaki Kiyokata, a great painter of the modern Nihonga (Japanese-style painting). Such elegant, minimalist line! He developed his career as an illustrator, later turning to painting in the Japanese style and creating his most famous works of graceful young women and the everyday life of common town-folk. I had the delightful opportunity to visit Kaburaki Kiyokata Memorial Art Museum located in Kamakura. I have somewhat of a passion to see these traditional art forms mentored to following generations. Having trained in commercial design 40 years ago with Swiss art director Willie Westman in Vancouver British Columbia Canada, I truly appreciate the “apprenticeship” that comes from old school European and Asian artists. Willie was remarkably generous in teaching us young newbie artists how to illustrate, design and develop full renderings in perspective.

Apprenticeship is highly honoured in Japan. A few days after visiting the museum I was invited to paint with master painter Goyoo Ootake (seated in front). Ootake is a 3rd generation successor to Kaburaki Kiyokata. You can imagine it was a special day for me as I painted with along with this fun bunch of professional artists in Kamakura.




June 21, 2017

Planning a Watercolour With Confidence – Part 2

I start with a limited palette of Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, French Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Turquoise. I observe a warm morning light cast across the building face and in the clouds. The brightest white highlights can be masked with masking fluid or by carefully leaving dry unpainted paper. This is the first stage of painting so I focus on the lightest values and purposefully join them together. In fact rather than getting locked in to a literal duplication of the scene, I allow an abstraction of shapes especially in the distance. I wet the entire surface and wash in a light cadmium yellow tint and allow it to dry. Next I re-wet the sky area, leaving some of the cloud edges dry. A diluted mixture of French Ultramarine, Cadmium Red and Cobalt Turquoise produces a somewhat neutralized (greyed) blue for the sky, so as I wash it in I pay attention to “lost” or soft and “found” or hard edges which develop the cloud shapes.

In the second stage of the painting I focus on the mid-values. I pay close attention to linking and simplifying shapes. The challenge is to describe the busy details of a building with the least amount of shapes and saving the highlights. The bright white highlights truly describe familiar objects, people, vehicles, etc. that we identify with.

In the third stage I introduce the darkest value, in this case the tree, so I can “key” all the values. It is helpful to have the darkest dark in place so that all the other values can relate to it.

At this point I continue the process of linking and abstracting shapes wherever possible while painting in the darkest areas. From here on it will be focusing on a variety of edges ie: lost and found; variety of textures ie: thick paint that gives a “dry” looking edge vs soft wet-in-wet.

The final touches are the “calligraphy” – the personal signature marks of loose brushwork in details. It is remarkable how a piece can come alive when you cast in the shadows. It is helpful to paint them in brief and deliberate strokes. This has the effect of movement and sparkle.


June 16, 2017

Planning a Watercolor With Confidence – Part 1

This street scene which includes a popular coffee spot “Esmeralda” in Hayama Japan is a great little study that we can review and learn from. Planning is everything when it comes to painting in watercolor and the basic discipline of developing a preliminary value study just can’t be emphasized enough. It is admittedly tedious to slow down and study the values that we observe: what’s darkest? what’s brightest? what’s intermediate and can more or less be joined in to one shape?

The value study is valuable! Notice that the original photograph is overcast, shot for reference. I passed by this location quite a few times, noting the lighting at certain times of the day. I was really after bright sunlight and cast shadows, so working at returning to a location pays off. So again, the photograph is for reference. But now the artist in me gets to play with the values, simplifying yet dramatizing. Notice how the eye is drawn to the contrasts, the darkest darks and lightest lights. If we can get those values working for us, color is secondary. Color, by the way, is the most “emotional” design element, but it still needs to be conveyed with the correct values.

Note next that the drawing on this half-sheet of watercolor paper is in some ways quite detailed when it comes to the architecture and people however this is a place to exercise restraint. If the drawing is too highly detailed it is so easy to get locked in to painting everything drawn. Hard to let go of those beautiful shapes and lines! So it’s best to make a mental note before the actual painting process – they are there only for reference.
Note also that more detail was given for the figures. They require the most thought and planning. Poor figures are the sad downfall of paintings. I find it a real challenge to not paint them over-accurately, yet they need to be well-proportioned and describing “gesture” – what are they doing? That goes for the lighting as well – what is dynamic about the lighting? That is what I’m after, and I don’t want to lose the main reason I felt drawn to paint something. Light and life!
You are most welcome to use this image if you want to work along with me. Watch for Part 2 as we begin to lay in the washes and develop this painting.

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