Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting mileage out of my reference photos.

December Day's Last Light, oil, 14x11

I just returned from teaching an oil painting workshop for a fun, hard working group of artists in Charlotte, NC. Many of the artists in the group also attended a pastel workshop I taught there last year. I could certainly relate to those artists who struggled with the same challenges as I did after working in pastel for many years and then learning a new process to paint in oil.

While color mixing can be a difficult challenge for a pastel artist learning to work in oil, I think it can also give you a better understanding of color, and ultimately help you to make better choices in your pastel work. If you've taken my classes or workshops, you've probably heard me state over and over..."lighter/darker"..."warmer/cooler" a way to think through a painting in any medium. And learning how to control the medium in which you work in order to accommodate that thought process is key.

Summer's End, oil, 11x14

The two paintings above were my demos from this workshop in Charlotte.

My family and I have been considering a move to a colder (and hopefully SNOWIER!) climate, but until then, I've needed to reuse many of my snow scene reference photos for my workshop demos. I try not to paint the exact same paintings in multiple classes and workshops. But since I try to include a snow scene demo in just about all of my workshops throughout the year and in many of my local classes, and visit a snowy part of the country normally only once per year, logic has it that I'm going to run out of photos! My solution has been to crop into my existing photos in ways that I hadn't thought of before. Consequently, I've needed to be much more resourceful with my compositions!

The snow scene painted last week in Charlotte was of a particular spot across the street from where I visit each year in Minnesota, and have painted it many times both on location and from my photos. So when preparing for this snow scene demo, I thought I'd find a tighter view of just a portion of the scene that I normally paint, which resulted in "December Day's Last Light," shown at the top of this post. I had to really hunt around through my photos and search for a good composition lurking within a larger view that I've painted before, but I think this recent painting might be my favorite of this location. And I bet if I looked some more through these same photos, I may find even more hidden compositions!

Below are paintings of the same location as in "December Day's Last Light" that I've completed over the past few years in both pastel and oil...

My Composition Boot Camp workshops focus on finding good compositions that are probably lurking somewhere within even your most average photos. For those of you in Georgia, I'm teaching my next one next week in Dahlonega at The Art Loft on Nov. 6 & 7. Visit for details.

Just for fun...I got a kick out of this sketch of me that one of the ladies in my Charlotte workshop did during one of my demonstrations...Thanks, Verna!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Adventures in Texas and Colorado

Roadside Walk, pastel, 12x12

I just returned from teaching a three-day pastel workshop in New Braunfels, Texas. As with most workshops, the group of artists was comprised of a variety of skill levels and experience. However, we all shared such a great enthusiasm for painting that we enjoyed what seemed like a continuous positive flow of knowledge and encouragement, with some laughs thrown in.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop at Farmers Road Art Workshops, run by Mary McIntosh, in New Braunfels, TX, I highly recommend it. And if you're coming in from out of town, she also runs a fantastic bed & breakfast right there by the studio.

Above and directly below are two of my demos from the workshop.

Hidden Pasture, pastel, 11x14

Following below are a couple of other pieces painted in the past few weeks...

Suburban Respite, oil, 11x14
"Suburban Respite" was painted for a private class recently. Separating the busy green foliage from foreground to background was the challenge of the day. Carefully controlling the warm and cool hues was key, since the values from foreground to background were very similar.

Waterton Canyon, pastel, 9x12

AIS Artists Choice Award!

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the American Impressionist Society show and paintouts recently in the Denver, Colorado area, and painted several plein air studies while there. "Waterton Canyon" was done in pastel back in my studio from one of my oil studies painted on location there. I'm hoping to paint some more studio versions of my studies real soon! What made the AIS event even more painting, "The Six O'clock Show" won Artists Choice award!

Next week it's off to Charlotte, North Carolina to teach an oil painting workshop. Below are some more workshops I have coming up...


NOV. 6 & 7 (Thurs/Fri)
The Art Loft, Dahlonega, GA
Visit to register.
Workshop fee - $225

Nov. 15 (Sat.)
Red Cockerill Gallery
2845 Cemetery St.
Austell, GA 30106
Contact Ann Cockerill to register: 770-944-3160 or 
Workshop fee: $130

PASTEL Workshop - Stevensville, MD - 3-day 
Workshop - February 6, 7 & 8, 2015 (Fri/Sat/Sun)
Demo - Thurs., Feb. 5, 5:30 - 8:30 pm, $45, $55 at door
Chesapeake Fine Art Studio 
609 Thompson Creek Rd.
Stevensville, MD 21666
(about 40 minutes from downtown Baltimore)

PASTEL Workshop - Bonita Springs, FL - 3-day 
Feb. 25, 26 & 27, 2015 (Wed/Thurs/Fri)
Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs
26100 Old US 41 Road
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
$350/members; $400/nonmembers

See my workshop page on my website for details and complete schedule through 2015, or email me with any questions.