View Full Version : Historic Harley Brown dvd - Tom Hill's watercolor

09-01-2008, 01:50 AM
Some of you may recall a story Harley Brown told about him making a video of Tom Hill painting a watercolor when they were in Mexico in 1980. He told us he had "lost" it for a number of years, and while going through old boxes "found" it again. A museum with which he is affiliated agreed to edit it, and put it on dvd, and now it is available to the public.

Thanks to Harley's generosity, I just watched the entire 109 minutes of this fascinating demonstration, and I'm not even a watercolor painter! There is so much more then "just" a watercolor demo included on this dvd. Tom begins with how he goes about drawing figures to place in his scene, and then he does several different thumbnail sketches to resolve the compostion. He talks the whole time he works so you know what he's thinking as he does this. Any artist can learn from this part alone about important aspects of plein air painting in a busy market atmosphere. However, watercolor painters will be interested in his method of applying the watercolor too. He works in the wet on dry method.

Here's what the back cover has to say:
The videos shot during this painting's creation were lost and forgotten for some years - but recently they were found! Now, with this new DVD, you can look right over the shoulder of master painter Tom Hill as he creates a complex watercolor, on location, in a colorful, old Spanish Colonial town in Mexico! Not only will you see and enjoy the ambience of this historic painting location, but whether you're a painter or an art viewer, you'll also lean a lot aobut watercolor painting!

I think absolutely every word written is true. It is as though you are standing right behind Tom to see what he is doing. You can hear the background sounds, see the people walking around, and see what Tom sees as he creates an absolutely fabulous watercolor. Strange as it may seem, this pastel painter will be watching this dvd several times for drawing techniques and inspiration, and I'll be sharing it with my students too.

It is available through:
Booth Western Art Museum
PO Box 3070
501 Museum Dr
Cartersville GA 30120

I'm thinking Harley will step in here and give us more info. :)

THANK YOU HARLEY for sharing this "lost" treasure with me and the world.


09-01-2008, 03:22 PM

This sounds great, but it might be nice to get a teaser preview of of it on a place like youtube. If there is a preview available somewhere, I'd like to check it. Even if it isn't pastel, it sounds like it might be helpful for tips on doing the watercolor underpainting possibly, and it's still great to see differing media - I always think of media other than my primary ones as artistic cross-training. Thanks!

Deborah Secor
09-01-2008, 03:54 PM
Peggy, how much will it cost, do you know?


09-02-2008, 02:13 AM
Paula that's a good idea. I think I'll have to ask that question of those in control of the DVD. Even a "peep" should get the interest of many people.

Deborah I don't have the answer about the price, but will find that out too. Thanks for inquiring.


09-02-2008, 04:20 PM
Hi Peggy and fellow artists,
The price of the DVD is $40.
I always felt, whatever I'm buying, is it worth it. In this case, it's worth it for the simple reason, it was a labor of love; from Tom's artwork to filming to editing to transfering to DVD. I'll say it once because it really isn't pertinent: no one is making money on this and I'm talking about it only because I consider it important.

Right from the beginning, I thought that seeing Tom Hill paint a watercolor is an experience. He's been a pal of mine since the 70s and have watched him during his workshops. He's one of a kind. The first demo I observed was Tom, in Taxco, Mexico, do a full watercolor of the downtown. He did it from a large balcony at the Victoria Hotel that overlooked the streets. If you know Taxco, all the streets are curved and multi angled. The church there is magnificent in detail. Well, he painted it and performed a masterpiece.
At that point, I knew that one trip I'd talk Tom into letting me film him painting. And it happened here, at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The complexities were enormous because of the people moving about, along with market stalls and building walls. Well, he started from square one and very clearly explained his way, stroke by stroke to the finish. It's a marvelous piece and even though I see it finished and relived it through this DVD, it purely amazes me.

Any questions and I'd be glad to answer.
cheers, Harley

09-02-2008, 07:11 PM
Hi Peggy and fellow artists,
The price of the DVD is $40.
cheers, Harley

Another way to think of this is that it is less expensive than most of the demonstrations at the IAPS convention, and equally if not more so instructive. Furthermore, unlike the convention you will have it with you to review as many times as you want it. On the DVD you are looking directly over Tom's shoulder with a close-up view. OK, the "downside" is it isn't a pastel, but as I said before that other than the application of the watercolor part it is highly valuable to any plein air artist, and especially those who'd like to put figures into their paintings that aren't standing still while you are on site. :)

Thanks Harley for the added information.


09-07-2008, 04:36 PM
Goody day,
On another section there was a lady named Lulu who mentioned that she took the Harley Oath a few times.
I wanted to mention to her why I think drawing is so important but also about the controversy surrounding it. So, I wrote to her my thoughts about drawing. I'm adding them here if anyone is interested:

I started drawing when I was seven years old. Even at that age I began to get the idea that I wasn't learning to draw a dog or a house or a shoe......because I'd never see that dog or shoe the same way again. Everything in front of me would continually change and was always "new," whether in perspective, distance, shape, color and even my attitude of the moment. What I have been doing all these years is to deeply observe and visually record the real thing through sketched shapes and form. Observing is fine, but applying those observations on paper makes the difference. I say this not only from personal experience but from knowing literally thousands of artists. I've seen the dramatic development from real life drawing.

I know that getting the basic drawing down using modern mechanics is rampant today. If that's the artist's only method, it is easy to spot. The basic shapes are fine but the approach of the artist thereafter is unsteady and seems to lack the artist's personal input. Some people think that those hours of drawing are a waste of time, that sketching is a step that can be ignored, (by using projectors and computers.) Those artists are certainly free to go their way but finished results are only part of art. My thrill is not only what ends up on canvas or paper but even more with the process itself. I love to get out into the backyard and draw that tree stump or sketch the passenger across the aisle during a flight. As with most artists, I also happily use photographs but wow, do I get a kick with the plein air approach. My sketching of the real world make those photographs usable.

Yes, there are artists who sometimes use mechanical means to get a complicated area roughly jotted down; such as an ornately arched cathedeal ceiling. Or the machine room of an ocean liner. This is done all the time for expediency purposes but I can spot "fanatic" drawers where the results are most always gang busters. To draw or not to draw is really not the question. Not any more than just reading words, (even Shakespeare,) makes an actor. In my many years of workhops, I have seen first hand what a year or two or more of "real life" drawing can do for the art of the student. And, so important, those artists seem to get a more buoyant, positive attitude about themselves, (and others.) This is partly because they get more secure and passionate about their skills. Well honed confidence is pretty potent.

And for those who think that sure, Harley, you can talk because you've drawing since you were a kid: I have seen numerous people in their senior years dig in deep, get sketch pads and go for broke. They are not only having the times of their lives but they really do have something to show for their supreme efforts.

There'll always be the drawing argument, but I rest my case on good ole Horse Sense.

09-08-2008, 12:51 AM
Thanks Harley. :thumbsup: There's nothing to lose by "going for broke." Well, maybe some old bad habits...:D :D

09-08-2008, 02:26 PM
Wow, this sounds fantastic, thanks Harley for sharing that! this DVD sounds like another must have! This is great for us watercolor and pastel artists!