Pat Dews

Pat Dews

Great Starts, Great Finishes

Sept. 23 - 29, 2012

Medium: Watermedia

Level: All Levels
5-Day Studio Class

In this exciting, intense workshop, students will learn to think and stretch their imagination by learning new techniques and importance of content whether working in abstraction or realism.  Focus is on the elements of texture, shape, value and color and the principles of design. Use unexpected materials to create a textured painting using a cruciform format, create a strata painting, totally transform a failed painting using acrylic paints, use a grid format to design a painting, use collage to learn composition and as a means of change and learn to crop for good designs.  Through daily demonstrations and positive critiques Pat helps take the “fear out of painting.” Repeat students can choose to bring starts from home to finish and/or be given new, challenging projects.

Pat Dews is an elected, signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, the National Collage Society and the National Association of Women Artists. She is the author of Creative Composition & Design and Creative Discoveries in Watermedia, published by North Light Books.  She also has two DVDs titled Designing Great Starts with Texture & Form and Let’s Get started Finishing.

Pat Dews AWS, NWS Five Day Plan

This is a fairly accurate description of what we will do each day in the workshop.  Some variations may occur.  There are no clones in my class.  All will work on individual designs and all work will be unique.  Students who have access to my books or video will have a better understanding of what to expect.

I begin the workshop by showing some of my paintings in progress.  The student sees what we will be doing in class and what my work looks like in different stages. Before each demonstration I will show examples of what we will be painting. Repeat students can bring starts to finish and/or be given new challenging projects.

Day 1

The first start is a texture practice sheet. This is done, in such a way, that it is actually a painting start.  Leftover paint /additional paint are used to make small, medium and large texture papers to use for collage.  After my demo, students begin work on their texture pieces. I circulate to give individual attention.


I do a demo using collage pieces. This demo will begin to show how to start composing good designs. I then demonstrate how to make horizontal bands of color for a strata piece. These bands get glued together. Students continue to work on a collage and strata piece.  I circulate to give individual attention.

Day 2

Using torn pieces of paper, I arrange (cruciform design format) and tape them to a blank sheet of paper for my next painting start.  I paint and spray over these taped pieces, used as a mask, to reserve white shapes.  After I demonstrate, students will tear their paper pieces ( from failed painting they bring to class) into large, medium and small shapes to place on their paper in a cruciform design format and begin painting their next start. I circulate and give individual attention.


I do an afternoon demo an hour before class ends. I do a demo that is a start as well as a finish. I will completely alter the surface of one of my painting starts (it might be one that I bring with me) using acrylic paint and acrylic paint techniques. 

I will use a grid design format. Students will use one of their failed paintings they bring. If I decide it is not a failed painting, a painting start will be prepared.

Day 3

I will give a slide/digital presentation of my finished paintings. I will discuss color, design, form and content. I will be discussing design and the possibilities waiting to happen. There is a 10 minute break.  I give a short demo on how to approach finishing the reserved white spaces. We quickly review 1 student start per student and I discuss what they look for before starting to finish. This takes time, but students tell me they find it invaluable.  I use a laser light and some construction paper.  Students begin working or eat lunch early


Because of the long morning demos, students usually eat early and then immediately start painting. I circulate and work with students. Depending on how far students get with their paintings, I might do another very short demo on finishing, if students want it.

Day 4

I demonstrate more techniques for the next stages in the painting process.  The student paints on her/his starts until lunch. I circulate and talk to each student individually.


I demo more next step finishing techniques and finish some smaller painting starts.

I continue to circulate and offer suggestions. At the end of the day I start critiques with groups of five.  I use construction paper for some suggestions.

Day 5

I will do a last demo on what I feel will best benefit the class.  Students continue to paint. Critiques continue if we haven’t finished.


Students continue to work. The last hour of class is spent on a group critique. I critique one student painting each, using a laser light (one the most finished or one I haven’t spent a lot of time already critiquing), upright on an easel.

Many paintings will be started and in different stages of completion.  In a workshop it is important to try new techniques and get a lot of work going. Finishing pieces and finishing touches can come later, in the studio, as the student works quietly on his/her own.  Students leave with many new ideas and new excitement.  Most write later saying how their work has grown and that they will never work the same way again.


Pat Dews, a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, the National Collage Society and the National Association of Women Artists.

Dews’ creates experimental works in watermedia on paper and canvas.  She paints the abstract essence of nature.  The shapes and textures of flowers, rocks, water and crumbled walls are translated into richly layered paint surfaces.  Collage is often integrated.  Dews skillfully juggles organic and geometric forms, transparent and opaque paint - all held together by a basic abstract underlying shape.  It is this intricate dance, rendered in strong color and value which produces her award-winning paintings.  When Pat paints, it is a lively, fascinating performance as she shows that, with the simplest tools, less can become more, much more.

Pat is an enthusiastic, popular instructor, teaching workshops internationally.  She takes great delight in her students’ many successes.

Pat is the author of [the painter’s workshop] Creative Composition & Design, 2003, and Creative Discoveries in Watermedia, 1998, published by North Light Books.  Her work has appeared in numerous books and publications. Dews’ videos Designing Great Starts With Texture and Form and Let’s Get started Finishing are available through Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. 
Pat Dews
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