Now mostly known for his digital paintings, local artist Fred Ventura is going back to his roots in watercolor thanks to an upcoming workshop series.
In conjunction with a showcase of his work as part of Art Center Morro Bay’s For the Birds group exhibition, Ventura will host two classes—on Jan. 19 in Nipomo and Jan. 26 in Morro Bay—that focus on bird painting in watercolor.
“I’m trying to do things that tie into other activities that are going on along the Central Coast,” said Ventura, who has a few of his own bird paintings featured in For the Birds—an annual show that pays tribute to the Morro Bay Bird Festival, which occurs Jan. 11 through 15 this year.
Ventura was unfamiliar with the festival of feathered friends prior to his participation in For the Birds, but he’s a longtime avian admirer.
“I think falcons are pretty interesting, and owls are really amazing birds,” said Ventura, who enjoys visiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, especially when the Santa Barbara Audubon Society is on-site with some of the nonprofit’s rescued owls.
“Their hearing is just incredible, and there’s a certain thing about their wing design that makes them so silent,” added Ventura, who often chooses owls as the subjects of his artwork. “I’d say owls are pretty much high up there in terms of interest to me.”
Guests of Ventura’s upcoming watercolor workshops will learn the basics of painting not only owls but other birds as well, with tips on winter scenes specifically. One of the techniques Ventura will address is how to paint snow, which isn’t as simple as it sounds, the artist said.
“Snow is a little tricky,” Ventura said. “Painting snow in a wintry scene is a challenging task for watercolor painters because it involves painting negative spaces—the areas around and between objects—into the image.”
While the snow’s white color can be provided by the artist’s white paper or canvas itself, Ventura said he often uses a pale blue pigment to help “better define the snow.”
Ventura titled the class Birds of the Winter Garden, and will lead the program’s first iteration in the art room of the Trilogy Monarch Dunes in Nipomo on Jan. 19. The artist will host a second opportunity for the public to take the class on Jan. 26 at Art Center Morro Bay. Both workshops are roughly three hours, lasting from noon to about 3 p.m.
During the two classes, Ventura will provide step-by-step demonstrations on how to effectively use contrast in watercolor pieces to add depth and dimension and other painting techniques. Near the end of the sessions, participating artists will have the chance to share and discuss their finished paintings among one another.
No prior art experience is required of participants, as the program is described as beginner-friendly but open to experienced artists looking to brush up on their watercolor skills as well.
While Ventura will get the chance to showcase his watercolor mastery during the two classes, his digital artworks on display at Art Center Morro Bay as part of For the Birds will show a different side of the artist.
“Procreate is very popular with artists and illustrators. It’s a really nice way to create art,” Ventura said of digital painting, which he achieves through the Procreate app with an Apple Pencil. “It’s just so much fun to do.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood uses a traditional No. 2 pencil. Send Scantrons to [email protected].