On the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 11, AUB’s Visual Arts Club gave its members a watercolor painting workshop in the Studio Arts department at AUB. Organized by Club President Hani Ghoulam and led by esteemed alumnus and professor David Kurani, the workshop consisted of three exercises meant to introduce the participants to the basics of watercolor painting.
Kurani first introduced himself and explained to the participants that he was a co-founder of the first arts club at AUB. He continued to say that he, thus, greatly cherishes and appreciates the presence of the current arts club and the active participation of its members.
The first exercise had the participants using China ink, or India ink, to experiment with the materials and understand the way this field of painting works. Kurani demonstrated by soaking his cardboard-like paper in water for a few seconds. Then, he proceeded to randomly drip China ink onto the paper, making certain to point out the way the ink spreads out and branches from the source of the drop and encouraging the group to pay close attention to this matter. He referred to it as accidental abstract painting.
Members of the club cabinet then distributed material to the participants, who began to enthusiastically experiment with the China ink themselves, each creating abstract shapes and varying shades of their own. The results ranged from messy, flower-looking blotches to clear-cut, organized lines of ink. When the students were done, Kurani had them place their finished paintings in a room with a fan to dry off.
For the second exercise, Kurani had already set up a line of feather dusters against white backdrops. He brought out another piece of paper—again soaked in water—and asked the students to drip ink along the paper in such a way as to create the image of the feathers. Once that was done, cabinet members distributed watercolor paints, and the participants proceeded to create the bottom half of the duster—the wooden stalk and the plastic connecting that to the top—and the green, glass bottle it was in.
Kurani explained techniques used to mix colors as well as brushstroke tactics. Once again, the finished paintings varied, and the feather dusters alternated from looking very much like the real deal to resembling erupting volcanoes. They were also set aside to allow for the final exercise to ensue.
Inspired by a recent Samsung advertisement, Kurani then asked the group to pay attention as he demonstrated and simultaneously explained how to blend colors to create a watercolor sunset. Again, the papers were soaked in water before use, and Kurani moved from one step to another while making sure the group was following. He showed them how to blend blues and purples into faint reds, and ultimately into bright oranges and yellows.
Once the colors were set, Kurani asked the group to use black paint to create the silhouette of a hill with some people atop it, as well as its reflection, as though the hill were overlooking a lake. It was pleasant to find that almost all of the participants eagerly began, immediately taking to the task, and created truly impressive paintings. One person created what resembled the New York City skyline, while another created the simple, yet beautiful, scene of two people sitting near a lake.
The workshop continued with Kurani asking the group to clean up after themselves, as he verbally emphasized the importance of the maintenance of these ages-old materials—as they are being used by current art students and have been used by students for decades. Kurani then ended the session with a kind word, congratulating club president Hani Ghoulam on his hard work in making the workshop happen and mentioning his personal hopes of being re-invited to give yet another workshop, as he reiterated his sentiments toward the presence of an art club today.
Reflecting on the workshop and the role of the Visual Arts Club at AUB, Ghoulam said, “We started the club to give both arts and non-arts majors the opportunity to learn more about the field and to showcase their talents. This workshop truly reflected the goals of the club. We were shocked by the skill of members that aren’t even arts majors. It was also such an honor to work with the renowned Professor Kurani.”