During a recent voyage on Queen Mary 2, I participated in two art programs that were part of the ship's onboard programming. Although the programs were very different, I found both rewarding.
On Queen Mary 2, as on a number of cruise ships, watercolor classes are a standard feature of the programming.
The classes are held twice a day when the ship is at sea. Most of the guests participating in the classes on this voyage came each day to the morning class or each day to the afternoon class. However, you could attend a morning class one day and an afternoon class the next day. There was also no requirement that you come every day. Whether to come, when to come and how long to stay was entirely up to each guest.
Limited to 25 guests, participation is determined on a first come, first served basis. On this voyage, the guests were a broad cross section of the passenger list. They came from several nationalities, were of different ages and included both men and women.
There was a $35 one-time fee to cover the cost of supplies. In exchange for this fee, each guest received a set of Winsor & Newton watercolor paints, three Winsor & Newton brushes, a pad of Winsor & Newton watercolor paper, a Conte a Paris drawing pencil, a sharpener and an eraser. Nice quality materials.
The instructor on this voyage was Susan Klibanoff. Ms. Klibanoff is not a permanent member of the ship's company. Rather, she is an artist with a background in a number of art forms including Chinese and Japanese painting, textiles and jewelry making. Once or twice a year, she teaches classes on cruise ships.
Her approach was easy-going and informal. Once the participating guests assembled, she would give a demonstration explaining how she painted a particular subject such as a sunset, birds or sunflowers. The guests would then return to their tables and create their own versions of the subject Ms. Klibanoff had painted.
After the guests had worked for awhile, Ms. Klibanoff would come around to each guest offering comments, suggestions and encouragement.
The classes were geared toward amateur artists. Some of the participants were novices but others had substantial experience with painting or other art forms. There was some conversation as the participants worked. However, most seemed absorbed in their work. Several participants said that they found the process relaxing.
I have done quite a few paintings over the years. Nonetheless, I found the classes worthwhile. The style I normally use is different than the style that was taught in the classes and it was good to explore a different way of doing things. Also, just having a set time each day dedicated to making art was enjoyable.
On the final day of the voyage, there was no afternoon class. Instead, there was an exhibition of the guests' work. A guest could submit as many works as he or she wanted but there was no requirement that a guest submit any work. The exhibit was announced in the daily program and all guests were invited to attend,
I also participated in a workshop on fashion illustration taught by fashion historian and artist Colin McDowell, MBE. This workshop is not a feature on every QM2 crossing. Rather, it was a special program, part of the second annual Transatlantic Fashion Week.
Having attended Mr. McDowell's workshop during the first Transatlantic Fashion Week in 2016, I was looking forward to attending the 2017 workshop. Mr. McDowell is a person of great intelligence and wit and I found his insights valuable not just with regard to fashion illustration but as to drawing and art in general.
There were to be two workshops during this transatlantic crossing, limited to 20 participants each. On the first evening of the voyage, I went to the Purser's Desk to sign up and was startled to find that the first workshop was already closed. Word about the value of these workshops had clearly gotten out.
The participants who I spoke with were quite serious about their art. Several had exhibited works ashore. However, there were also people who were just interested in the topic and looking for a rewarding experience.
Mr. McDowell went through a series of slides of works by some of the great fashion illustrators of the past, commenting on their works.
Using markers and paper supplied by Cunard, the participants did drawings from two live models. Mr. McDowell pointed out the shadows and points to emphasize in each model's pose. He also went around the room commenting and giving encouragement to each student.
The final task was to take an illustration done by Mr. McDowell and make it into your own. Thus, the object was not to copy his drawing but to change and personalize it so that it was a new work.
As with the 2016 workshop, I found this class both energizing and inspiring.
Above: Materials for the watercolor class on Queen Mary 2.
Above and below: Watercolors done during the watercolor class.
Above: Colin McDowell conducting a workshop on fashion illustration aboard Queen Mary 2.
Above and below: Drawings done during the fashion illustration workshop on Queen Mary 2.