Saturday, September 7, 2013

Workshop Wrap-up - The Art Loft, Dahlonega, GA

Shady Refuge, oil, 8x10

I just spent a fantastic two days with a wonderful group of artists in Dahlonega, GA teaching my "Composition Boot Camp" workshop at the Art Loft. Anita Elder, who owns and runs the Art Loft, does an incredible job taking care of students and instructors, making sure it's an excellent experience for everyone! The workshop was open to oil painters and pastel artists, so I demonstrated in both media.

Directly above and below are my demos from the workshop. They were both started as "block-in" demos working from thumbnails (see below), completed later after the demonstration time.

Resting Place, pastel, 6x12

Thumbnails were a big deal in this class. Students had to first develop several thumbnail sketches for each painting according to a list of composition guidelines that I suggested, and then take a small painting only to the point of blocking in the composition, working from one of their thumbnail sketches. By the end of the workshop, students ended up with lots of sketches and several starts to small paintings in which they carefully planned every shape within the composition. (No details allowed!)

The students in the class and I all agreed that the next time I teach this workshop, I should use a timer for the thumbnails and the painting block-ins. This would better encourage focusing only on the big shapes and prevent the tendency to want to labor over details.

Below are examples of my thumbnail sketches, and the block-ins that I demonstrated from one of the thumbnails for each.

My next couple of workshops on the calendar are pastel workshops. One in Charlotte, NC for the Piedmont Pastel Society, Nov. 4-7 (this one is full with a waiting list), and then in Littleton, CO at Terry Ludwig Pastels, Jan. 24-26, 2014 (a few spots still left in this one). You can see the full schedule on my website at


  1. It was a great workshop--so informative. I'm looking forward to practicing your techniques. I find landscapes to be intimidating, and this will certainly help me start working in the right direction.

    1. Thanks for the nice feedback, Judy! It was great to meet you and work with you!

  2. It was an excellent workshop. It really helped me to think more about planning my painting, taking more time before jumping into color. I loved the freedom and light in your demos.

  3. It was really informative workshop