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Watercolor Journaling at the 2008 Retreat

OWA 2008 Annual Retreat


Our 2008 Annual Retreat took place September 19-21, 2008 at the Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma County. Accommodations were shared rooms in rustic redwood cabins set among landscaped grounds including pool and hot tub. The towns of Sonoma and Glen Ellen are minutes away.

The weekend included conversation, recreation, yoga, hiking, swimming, hot tub, massage, art, music, good eating, and laughter. Our theme this year was:

Reinventing Housing

We reshaped our conceptions of housing, from the design of the individual dwelling to new models of living, with creative input from retreat attendees and guest speakers:

Polly Cooper, architect, founder and principal of San Luis Sustainability Group, has taught at Cal Poly SLO for over 20 years, is LEED certified, and has designed a wide variety of green buildings with partner Ken Haggard.

Gilda Puente-Peters, architect, educates the building community & governmental agencies in the benefits of universal design: providing broad spectrum solutions for living that provide equity and flexibility for people of all ages and abilities.

Katherine Steele, designer, sustainability activist, educator, and founder of the Urban Permaculture Guild in Oakland, leads workshops in eco-social design, city repair and the power of placemaking.

Retreat Watercolor Journaling Workshop

Judy Rowe  | 


Watercolor by Judy Rowe

It was a beautiful day in Sonoma at the OWA Retreat. Judy Rowe gave us a short lecture, a few exercises and then set us out to enjoy for ourselves and to have fun with watercolor journaling. She emphasized the importance of not spending too much time on either the ink drawing or on the watercolor application.

Here are a few Water Color Tips (Lessons Learned) that Judy gave us:

1. It looks easy, but it's not! Don't get discouraged. The professional watercolorist does not get it right all of the time.

2. If you mix on the palette, mix more paint than you need; It's best to mix colors on the paper and let the water "mix the colors". Remember that you need less paint from darker colors when mixing with lighter colors.

3. Preserve the "white" of the paper. Paint around white shapes. This is what gives watercolor its distinctive appearance.

4. Using "suggestion" in your drawing and painting is much more powerful than being explicit about every detail. The outside of the shape you draw/paint will tell the viewer what the object is.

5. Keep a sketchbook / journal with you always! and use it. Your travel journal will develop your "eye" and the way you see things. Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.

6. Composition is best when you remember the "three bears" (papa, momma and baby bear). Have an odd number of objects and very the sizes in your composition.

7. Keep your watercolor painting out of the sun.

8. All drawing/painting is about the relationships of angles & shapes. The more drawing & painting you do the more you will learn to see the "negative" spaces/shapes between objects. This will allow you to get the "relationships" between objects correct.

9. Use as big a brush as possible. Big brushes help you paint looser.

10. Have fun with your watercolor travel journal and enjoy the journey!




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