Saturday, April 13, 2013

Living in the moment The Now and Zen way

When I was sailing on the Now and Zen with Ralph, he got a call from a nervous client who was scheduled for the following day .  The weather for Friday was scheduled to have a 40% chance of rain, and the client was wondering if he could get a refund.  Ralph reminded him that the refund was transferrable but non refundable because he had made the trip to Fernandina on his account, and he was not in control of the weather. There was no tension in the conversation, the client was of course wanting an "ideal" circumstance for his charter.  We all want ideal weather when we are sailing through life, but we are not in control of the weather.  As I talked with Ralph later about this, he related how so often the weatherman predicts rain, only to have fair to wonderful conditions for sailing.  As it turns out a little inclement weather in the case of sailing is "exactly" what you want.  If it is too calm you have no wind and have to motor, which is a little less exciting than the quiet excitement you get when under sail.
The following day, Friday, I called Ralph from my studio to talk about our next trip on Monday,  and noticed to him that , hey! the weather was actually nice for sailing after all on Friday, it never rained at all!  He laughed on the phone and said "you just can't trust the weatherman!"  So if the client had cancelled he would have missed a perfect sailing trip.  Some times you just have to let go and find the Zen in the moment you are given, relax and enjoy the ride.

On the Now and Zen near Sisters Creek on the way to Fernandina
Thursday relaxing on the trampoline coming into  Fernandina
Fernandina the thursday before the predicted weather ( a painting to be?)

A Little Pine Island Now and Zen

A favorite trip Ralph Hubbard and I like to make on his catamaran the "Now and Zen" is a trip he makes occasionally up the intracoastal waterway from St. Augustine to Fernandina, Fl.  On the way we spend the night around Pine Island near Guana Reserve. We wake at 5am, have some breakfast and position our boat as the sun comes up for the best painting. After a successful painting meditation, we continue sailing up the waterway, enjoying the jungle-like quality of the river.  I always feel like I am in the Amazon adventuring in the unknown, because it always feels like the first time.  I never tire of the journey because the light is always different and there are a multitude of compositions available to the eye, but each for only a moment.  We pass by them soon, so one is encouraged to remain attentive and mindful of each passing moment as if the Now and Zen boat itself were a sort of time machine, leaving the past behind and constantly moving into the future, while forever remaining in the moment.  It becomes a renewing metaphor for me.  Just as I think I have seen all the tree compositions I can,  I will see one more exciting new composition just ahead, and I am mindful and attentive once again.  Here are some "Zen moments" from the trip...
(Look for paintings from this trip to come into being in the future as we plan to develop a Now and Zen  watercolor and oil show next year.  I will post progress of this on the website and Facebook as I go).
 ( NowandZenSailing )

Pine Island sunrise

beginning is exciting and challenging, sky and water first

struggling to get the light right against the bugs and changing conditions

I had to relent and use Off before the gnats carried me off.

"A Zen Sunrise at Pine Island" after a few studio touchups

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A little Morning Zen does it.

I was on the NOW and Zen charter boat while photographing and painting this scene.  Our project together is to capture the zen magic of the scenes we have seen together while sailing around north Florida waterways.
I have used this painting many times in my lessons in both watercolor and oils.  It makes a great reference for use of color without getting too distracted by the details.  Details are not what makes a great painting, it's feelings you get from the painting that remind you of an event or theme in an intimate way.  I see a lot of colors in my reference photo I use for this , that my students often do not see.  This is because with experience I have come to realize that photos are not by themselves a true depiction of any reality.  You have to enhance and bring back to life what the camera can't see.  The human eye and brain form a complex relationship of focus and selectivity.  You have to add that back in a painting.
To do this I concentrated on the value scales of colors warms of the sun, and cools in purples,  greens and blues, then contrasted them against each other to recreate the enchantment that I felt at the moment the sun was peaking over the trees flooding atmospherically the dark trees with golden glow.
Below you can see both attempts to capture the scene in oil and then watercolor

Morning Zen Oil 16" X 20"

the watercolor Zen Sunrise 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

SPRING Class Schedules
with Gordon Meggison 

A plein aire watercolor  of the Jacksonville Arboretum pond

(at 3920 Sierra Madre Dr S, Jacksonville Fl 32217) 

Spring is here!  Great for exploring Florida outdoors. We will start with some
outdoor plein air exercises in Gordon's personal garden ( a touch of Monet!)
when the weather is good (Easels provided)  Gordon will guide you through
simple step by step techniques and interesting themes designed to help you
simplify complex subjects so you can produce colorful vibrant watercolors.
Classes Starting Tuesdays April 23 - May 28 10 am - 2 pm at the Studio
New Students $ 200. previous students $180.!  Limit 6 students.
To sign up for this season: email-, or,   or call (904) 739-0251
To see Gordon's work see under the Fine Art tab.
for materials list info see
OTHER CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS with Gordon Meggison are featured below:

Jewish Community Alliance ( )
Thelma Nied, Cultural Arts Director Jewish Community Alliance
8505 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32217
Phone 904 730 2100, x 227, Fax 904 730 2444
$102. for members, $153 for non members
For beginner to intermediate watercolor enthusiasts. Basic color theory, color washes, composition will be taught while exploring simple but exciting themes.
Session 1
6 sessions each -
Monday mornings 10 am - 12 pm, 
April 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20  
Wednesday evenings 7pm - 9 pm
April 17, 24, May 1, 8, (no class May 15) 22, 29
8 week SUMMER  Watercolor Classes
$136. for members, $204 for non members
Wednesday 7-9pm
June 5, 12, 19, 26, July 3,10,17, 24.

OIL Class
Learning to paint in oils using simple techniques and materials to achieve beautiful results fast! Gordon employs a simple easy to follow step by step process to use the fundamentals of sketch to color mixing to finished oil painting.
Session 1 6 sessions each
$102. for members, $153 for non members
Monday evenings 7pm- 9 pm 
April 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20
 Wednesday mornings 10 am-12 pm
April 17, 24, May 1, 8, (no class May 15) 22, 29

8 week SUMMER  OIL Classes
$136. for members, $204 for non members
Mondays 7-9pm
June 3, 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22.

REDDI ARTS WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP 1 day only     Saturday May 11 , 9:45 am- 5 pm  $100.
One Day Watercolor Fast Track BRUSH UP!
A chance to get personal help to achieve control of your watercolor medium for beautiful luminous results.
Minimum 5,  Limited to 12 persons, basic watercolor supplies needed. (see list)
Contact Eric Adams (904) 398-3161 ex 319 , 
ABSTRACT Watercolor Workshop contact Jennie szaltis
Trends 3919 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, Florida 32207 next Door to Millwork Design Studio
EVENT:  1 day   WORKSHOP  May 18th - Sat.  10:00am - 4:00pm.   $75.00 minimum 6 students

Watercolor Supply List

Watercolor Supply List

Instructor: Gordon Meggison
Paper:  140lb Cold Pressed Arches Watercolor Paper Block suggested size 10”x 14”
Paint - BEST: Winsor & Newton PRO grade NOT  COTMAN ( it has fillers) 
Cadmium Red, Alizarin crimson or Genuine Rose, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue , 
Indigo, Horizon Blue, Olive Green, Sap Green, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, 
Cadmium Orange , Cadmium Yellow, Bismuth Yellow, 
Pallet pan - Medium size folding plastic palette large or medium size is best not small
Brushes - #12 Sable, (Simmons will work-not too expensive) 1" Nylon Synthetic or Hake Brush ( a Japanese Brush for washes)
Windsor Newton Masking Fluid
Low adhesion masking tape painters style 1" or drafting tape
#2 pencil 
kneaded eraser
Small Kosher Salt in a small shaker
Flat 3” X 5” kitchen sponge (not the kind with coarse scrub texture on backside)
Plastic wide base water cup 
Plastic saran Wrap (Optional)
Paper Towels
Scrapers- this can be a variety  of objects, I can go over them in class, clay tools, palette knives, burnishers etc all make different marks into wet washes

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A successful show at the "Parade of Homes" in the Yacht Harbor Village 2013

Gordon Meggison was invited by Amy Steedley of ADS Designs and Alissa Bennett  Design Studio A to show his signature driftwood paintings throughout the "Parade of Homes" in the St George house  by Keystone Homes Mar 16th - 24th in Palm Coast at the Yacht Harbor Village.  It is a 4000 sq ft home with a marina nearby, on the intercoastal waterway.  The dining room was a perfect venue for the triptych of Talbot beach.  Other works were featured throughout the house.  One painting in the guest bedroom "Worn by Wind and Sea" sold, two others are in negotiation.  To see more driftwood works go to Gordon's web site

"Worn by Wind and Sea"  SOLD 

The Dining Room triptych

this hung in the master bedroom with the two below

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Simplifying A Landscape In Terms of Temperature

When painting a landscape in watercolor , oils etc, it can be overwhelming to grasp all the detail and the color variants for anyone, much more so a beginner.  Let me give you a way to see and breakdown the subject easily.  See it NOT as a landscape, but as a series of colors going from warm (the light side of an object-ie: the sun) to the cool side of an object ( less sun , so blue ).
So see the image and the color bar at the lower left.  It starts with warm light- bismuth yellow, orange, moves to raw sienna, olive greens (for this bush exercise) then starts to get to sap green, and then hookers, chrome and greens that you add cobalt blue , or indigo to to darken.  Let these different colors interact as the move around the object by placing them next to each other, sometimes mixing, sometimes not.

Monday, March 25, 2013

On Doing Demonstrations of Your Painting Techniques

Doing a watercolor demo for a large group of people can be frightening, but if you prepare, you can minimize the fear.  I did this by preparing for three days before hand.  I painted a lot and experimented so I would have a sharp edge to the presentation and maybe bring something fresh to the table. My theme was Abstract Watercolors.  I had an idea of several compositions beforehand that would also demonstrate a variety of different principals and techniques at the same time.  I wanted my timing to be worked out so that the demo would be fast, informative and exciting.  I used brighter colors than I might usually since the viewers would be seeing the image upside down and from a distance and possibly in poor light conditions.  
There is nothing more boring than watching paint dry or watching someone noisily use a blow drier.  So I enlisted a student/friend volunteer to do the drying in a side room while I moved to the next stage on another watercolor block.  I also used the opportunity to display a few other types of abstract approaches that I have tried in the past, but would not address that night. 
It is important to keep the energy moving, funny if possible.  I finished 5 pieces in 1 hour by having several blocks and themes in the ready.  I wasn't exactly sure how it would all time out, so I had back up material in case I moved too quickly, but moving too slowly was my biggest fear!  
People hear more when they are laughing and having fun.  Tap into your inner comedian by paying close attention to your feelings and even your fears.  We are all a bit nervous to be in front of the spotlight, no one wants to make a mistake or bore people.  Our fears can be a source of great self deprecating fun, since everyone can identify with your fears, they have them too!  
Enjoy the process and be prepared by knowing clearly what your message is.  I penned an outline in bullet points so I didn't get off track risking losing my message.  I like to balance example with description, too much explanation can lose people, too much demonstration can get deadly quiet.  I try to remind myself to make some eye contact, which is hard, because it takes a lot of concentration to do a painting in the first place, and in front of a crowd, but keep that connection with the group.  Don't mumble, do a sound check, and make sure they can see your work.  Most important keep it fun light, informative and colorful, know your message, and drive home the point to wrap it up with a bang!  

Here is what the Jacksonville Watercolor Society said in their recent newsletter about my demonstration at the Cultural Center of Ponte Vedra Beach Florida:
"Thank you to Gordon Meggison for a vibrant and playful demonstration.  His work with masking fluid, saran wrap and emotion made for a lively evening of learning.  For Gordon, "play" is the key word and we all certainly enjoyed watching him play with color, fluid, and paper.  Two lucky winners went home with wonderful pieces of artwork from Gordon's collection."

It was all great fun and went by too fast, I am grateful the JWS wanted to see what I do and how I do it.  

Jacksonville Watercolor Society demo in progress

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Artists Block

We all know what it is like to have trouble getting motivated. It is easier to go get something from the fridge, watch a movie or clean house. They can be beneficial and are often even necessary, but when we divert our creativity too much to these types of activities, we can dilute our creative energy. This can stop the energy from building up in us to the point where we simply "must" paint. I love it when I am on one of those creative rolls where I just can't stop painting, time slips by and I am letting one painting inform another. I wrestle with artist block in one form or another every day. Sometimes cleaning house can help me, by making me feel active and productive, but ultimately it must translate into activity and time spent in the studio and wet paint to get a painting started. Starting is the hard part. I don't always have clarity or energy when I go into the studio. I find (like exercise!) when I just show up and start puttering around in my "sanctuary" I start to feel the muse emerge. She begins to manifest in my thoughts, and seduces me into believing that if I start this or that I will be a great artist and everyone will love me! While that might be comical and an overstatement, it is more or less true. First I have to get myself "set up for success", all the tools positioned and appropriated, a canvas primed and in place. I also like to get other stretched canvases ready to go ( I prefer to create a "body" of work, and this psychological trick can show yourself you mean business, it says to your subconscious ..."when" I get fired up not ..."if" I get fired up. That assumptive position harnesses the power of your mind and ultimately your body.
It is also important to ask yourself quality questions . Here's a few:
  • 1."what can I do to set myself up for a fun painting experience,"
  • 2."what new technique can I approach this medium with or subject that I haven't tried before to make this more rewarding,"
  • 3. "how fast  can I paint this subject so that I only capture the essentials of energy and light, so that my viewing experience is enhanced".

Try some others by writing them down for clarity of purpose though unfortunately few do this (many are called but few are chosen). Writing it down works, sketching rough thumbnails helps, and having a sketchbook at the ready helps that!  Anyway you get the idea.
I find a bit of regular art related periodicals or books throw fuel on your fire. Start your creativity off with good mental attitude with mind food so that your vision will be sharpened, your mood enhanced and your chances of success increased.
When I finally get excited, the spark sets a glow at first, then as I get clarity and focus (we are all a bit ADD these days with modern distractions!) and I know what I am doing a bit better, one sketch piece informs another ( I often paint 4-10 pieces at a time) . That's when a firestorm of creative ideas can build excitement and sustain you through a body of work and a narrative that maintains your curiosity and interest for some time.
What I look for in painting, is a subject that I can explore, that widens my visionary skills while challenging me technically in order to bring fresh techniques, and ultimately fresh impetus to my work overall.  The subject is less important than the "feeling" for your subject.  Your goal should be to translate the feeling into the paint strokes through skill and honesty (not doing it just for the money), and the passion will become obvious in the work one stroke at a time.
I am presenting here a selection of paintings done within a three day period as I prepared for a Jacksonville Watercolor Society demo at the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach Florida.  You can explore how one piece informed another.  This process of self discovery opened up a whole new area of interest and technical discovery for me.


The last, and a breakthrough for me!

NEW! WATERCOLOR CLASSES at Reddi Arts February Schedule 2021

A dventure in Watercolor!  A class for beginners and Intermediate alike. I approach this medium with a sense of adventure and flexibility,...