Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Workshops, A Group Show and an Article

Just held a two-day pastel/oil workshop at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville, GA. I enjoyed working with this enthusiastic group of artists who asked many questions throughout the two days. Many times students will apologize for asking so many questions. But groups like this make for more productive, and what I feel to be a more successful workshop. So if you take one of my workshops...ask away!

Below are my demos from this workshop (one oil, one pastel), with thumbnails and an initial block in for the pastel piece.

Zigzag, oil, 11x14

Bursting With Springtime, pastel, 11x14

My next local(ish) workshops will be in in Austell, GA (oil) and the other in Dahlonega, GA (oil/pastel). The one in Dahlonega will be my "Composition Boot Camp" where I'll make more sense out of the thumbnails you see above.

My next pastel workshop is coming up in June, with the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod. A second workshop (2-day) has just been added and last I heard there are a few spot still left in this one.

Details for my workshops are on my website.

Tomorrow I'll be hanging a show with three other artist friends at the Artists Atelier of Atlanta, located in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. The show runs from May 2 - May 30, with a reception on Sat., May 17, noon - 4, during the Miami Circle Art Walk which takes place the third Saturday of each month. I'll post more details on this soon, but in the meantime, following below are a few of my pieces included in the show...

September Goldenrod, oil, 11x14

Orange Roof, oil, 8x10

Road May Be Slippery, pastel, 12x16

One more piece of news to share here...I haven't yet received my copy of the June issue of the Pastel Journal, but I'm excited to say that I'll have an article in this issue, in the "Skill Builders" section of the magazine. The focus of the article is on how I block in my paintings, which is typically one of the focuses of my workshops.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Harmonizing Structures and the Landscape

Tucked Away, oil, 9x12

This month in my classes at my studio we once again studied structures within the landscape. Last month's subject matter had more similarities in the local color of the white buildings and the snow on the ground, so it was a little easier to develop a cohesive look between buildings and landscape. This time, the structures have less in common with the surrounding landscape, so it's the artist's job to create that harmony. We addressed lost and found edges a bit as we did last month, but most of the focus was on harmonizing the color palette.

In my oil demo, Tucked Away, the red and pink colors within the roof of the barn were pretty easy to incorporate into the trees and grass. The shadows on the barn used a cool blue color that was used less liberally in other areas, but it's repeated in the sky and then darker values of the same hue were used in the darker shadow of the open garage door and also in some of the shadow areas of the trees and bushes as well as the cast shadow on the roof. Although not immediately obvious, the colors of the sunlit areas of the barn are also repeated throughout the painting. In order for those sunlit areas to appear bright white, they have to have a very warm contrast to the strong cool shadow areas. (In my experience, highlight areas like this need to be warmer than you might think in order to appear "sun drenched.") So those whites are really very light values of the golds, reds and pinks you see elsewhere in the painting.

Around Back, pastel, 10x8
In my pastel demo, Around Back, the subtle value shifts of the weathered brown barn provided a vast range of warms and cools to also incorporate into the greenery. The blue/gray shiny roof also provided a nice hue to harmonize the sky, rocks and some of the lighter shadow areas on the ground. However, I had more struggles with this pastel piece than with the oil demo. I finally realized this subtle value range also gave me so many choices that it was tough to narrow in on distinct color palette, which is why I think the pastel  piece proved to be more challenging. The strong lighting on the white barn in the oil piece was more clear cut with the values of the warms and cools.

In my painting journey, as I continuously move back and forth between painting in oil and pastel, the pros and cons with each medium are always very evident to me. In this case, with oil, even though you have the challenging task of mixing paint colors, creating color harmony can be easier when you limit your tube colors and continuously pull from these same colors. With pastels, it's too tempting to keep grabbing yet another color that just might work better. This creates an overly busy and disjointed color palette, and also of course...muddy color.

In this pastel piece, rather than continue to try and layer on additional colors as I wrestled with a chosen color palette, I brushed off the pastel from the surface and rewet the surface with alcohol so I could restart with a non-dusty "clean slate." After my class, I did this many times until I settled into a color palette. (Normally I try to limit myself to only fine tuning my demos after students leave.)

Rather than posting the progression shots this time, I've shown the reference photos below...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Upcoming Georgia Workshop

River Harmony, pastel, 11x14

I was invited to conduct a demo yesterday for the Georgia Art League at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville, GA. They were an enthusiastic bunch who asked lots of great questions! "River Harmony" is the piece I painted for them. I spent a lot of the demo time explaining how I plan and block in a painting, taking it a little more than half way to completion. I finished it up this morning back at my studio.

In a little over a week, I'll be back in Gainesville at Quinlan to teach a 2-day landscape workshop in oil and pastel. The dates are April 28 & 29 (Mon/Tues), 10 - 6, $250. These two days will be packed with information and exercises on composition, color harmony, paint/pastel application and the all important challenge of simplifying busy landscape subject matter.

Contact Quinlan Visual Arts Center to sign up: