Sharon Reilly

Asian Watercolor - Expressions of the Northwoods

May 27-June 1, 2018 (Four Teaching Days)

The Northwoods of Wisconsin is a painter’s paradise, filled with inspirational scenery and many beautiful subjects (spring flowers, birds and other wildlife). Participants will learn how to use Asian brushes, inks, watercolors and a variety of natural fiber papers to paint exquisite yet simple paintings to express the beauty of the Northwoods.

A World of Difference — There are several striking differences between the Western and Asian art aesthetic. These differences can be seen not only in composition and materials but also in the creative process and in particular in the use of perspective. While Western painters commonly use single-point perspective (a scene seen from a specific point in space), Asian artists will use multiple perspectives as well as multiple focus points especially in large landscapes, where the viewer is encouraged to “travel” through the painting moving from one focus point to another.

The other differences are in the materials used. The Asian Watercolor brush is flexible and holds more water/paint than the Western style brush. Also Asian brushes are generally made from natural fibers and animal hair, each with specific properties. The Sumi stick or ink stick is used to make your ink. Ink is made by rubbing the sumi stick on the suzuri (ink stone). This is an important process and takes approximately 10-15 minutes. During this time you (the painter) are warming up and at at the same time freeing your mind to let the natural energy flow THROUGH YOU.

Asian watercolor papers are made from natural materials: Mulberry bush, Bamboo, Hemp, Rice and other materials. Once a painting is complete the artist will stamp the work with a custom seal that is dipped in wax.

In this workshop, participants will learn about the art of Asian watercolor painting and how it differs from Western style of painting. Participants will learn the basic techniques using only brush, ink, a few basic watercolor paints and Asian watercolor papers. Also this workshop will focus on painting as a meditative process. Students will learn how to clear the mind and with only a few strokes of the brush capture the “Essence of the Subject”. The class will include color blending, composition, brush techniques and composition. Instruction will be in part by demonstration and discussion and then in class practice. If the weather is nice, we can go outside to explore the area’s natural beauty and paint our impressions of the Northwoods.

Subjects will be a few traditional ones called the “Four Gentlemen”: Bamboo, Plum, Orchid and Chrysanthemum but will also include plants and animals at Dillman’s which we can study and paint such as native trees, a variety of birds, dragonflies and other wildlife. Participants will also learn both a traditional technique, using homemade glue, and a dry technique to back their artistic creations. Everyone will have at least one complete painting ready to frame when they return home and will be inspired to continue painting from your heart.

Day 1

  • Introduction to Asian Watercolor Painting, the four gentlemen
  • Review of Materials and Supplies
  • Focus will be on painting Bamboo and Birch Trees (transferring knowledge of bamboo to native trees)

Day 2

  • Explore the simple strokes for painting fall scenery and especially
  • Includes coloring blending for leaves, painting in single strokes
  • Class feedback on paintings

Day 3

  • Birds, Bugs and Flowers to be decided by PARTICIPANTS (Examples include: kingfisher and lotus, cranes or dragonflies and irises, Sunflowers and Goldfinches etc.)
  • 1st review the 3 Flower Gentlemen: Orchid, Plum and Chrysanthemum.
  • Class feedback on paintings

Day 4

  • Demonstrate the USE of washes to create atmosphere and to add contrast to your paintings
  • Continue work on paintings
  • Class feedback on paintings
  • Demonstrate backing your paintings in traditional style (wet) and also dry technique
Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting Sharon Reilly Painting

Sharon has over 25 years of experience studying and painting Asian watercolor. She is a member of the Sumi-e Society of America and has taught Asian Watercolor painting to both adults and children. She is currently a part-time instructor at Nicolet College and teaches workshops on Asian Watercolor throughout WI and MN.

She began studying traditional Japanese ink painting called Sumi-e in New York City with her sensei Koho Yamamoto. When she moved to Hawaii, she continued her studies at the Honolulu Art Academy, Linekona School of Art under a Chinese master painter and teacher Yu Wen. She has exhibited her work at the Chinese Cultural Center in Honolulu, the A.R.T. Gallery in Baraboo, and other galleries around the state of Wisconsin. Sharon has also been a visiting artist during the Aldo Leopold Foundation Art Day.

Her professional life as a wildlife conservation biologist has inspired her to paint native birds and plants in addition to the more traditional Asian subjects. In addition to painting, Sharon also enjoys being outside in nature. Her other passions are bird watching and nature photography. She is also a member of the North American Nature Photography Association.

She considers Asian painting a meditative process as well as an artistic one. It requires clearing one's mind and channeling the energy inside. It is the art of energy transformation; taking your internal energy and transferring that to your brush and subsequently to the paper.

Sharon is currently working on a series of paintings about Endangered Species and North American Birds that were once on the verge of extinction, but have since recovered.

Koho Yamamoto continues to be an inspiration to Sharon. As a young girl Koho was a student of Chiura Obata while they were both in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Sharon's goal is to pass on to new generations of artists an appreciation for Asian Watercolor and Sumi-e painting.

This is a Studio and Plein Air Workshop.
Beginner to Intermediate Students.

Workshop Fee plus tax per student: $525 
(Tiered pricing not available) 
Plus $20 Material Fee - payable to Sharon.
Room & One Dinner Fee plus tax: $385
(There are 5 nights' accommodations included in the "Room & One Dinner Fee" listed above.)
Cancellation Policy, Class Fees and Tiered Pricing Explained
A partial tuition scholarship is offered
Workshop Itinerary


REGISTER NOW for Sharon Reilly



Workshop Itinerary

Sunday, 5/27
Check-In to your unit at Dillman’s (check-in time is 3:00)
5:00 Welcome Reception (included in package)
6:00 Dinner at Dillman's (included in Room and Meal Package. $25 additional for day students.)

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday 5/28-5/31
Breakfast On Own
9:00 a.m. - Noon Class in Session
Lunch On Own or Box Lunches can be ordered (pre-order required)
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Class in Session

Thursday, 5/31
NOON Farewell Champagne Toast (included in package)

Frday, 6/1
Depart - check-out time is 10:00

Optional Events - Sign Up Required / Subject to Change:
    Monday 5:30 p.m. Dine-Around Dinner
    Monday 7:00 p.m. S'more Roast (no charge)

    Tuesday 8:00 a.m. Yoga
    Tuesday 5:30 p.m. Dine-Around Dinner

    Wednesday Noon & 4:00 p.m. Pontoon Ride on White Sand Lake (no charge)
    Wednesday 5:00 p.m. Moondeer & Friends Gallery Tour (no charge)
    Wednesday 6:00 p.m. Dine-Around Dinner

    Thursday 5:30 p.m. Dine-Around Dinner


Dine-Around Dinners: Registration required at the front desk, meet at 5:00pm in the main lobby for carpooling.

Day students are welcome to attend the Welcome Reception and Farewell Reception (included in your package). You are also invited to join the class dinners (additional fee). PAL’s (Participants at large) can vacation at Dillman’s for $45 per night for accommodations. Costs for box lunches and dinners are additional.