Thursday, January 6, 2011

Small to Large Painting

 8 x 10 plein air version
16 x 20 enlarged studio version

Last year, I was fortunate to take a workshop from Dawn Whitelaw, a marvelous teacher who has mentored so many talented artists over the years I can't even name them all! She is not only a gifted artist herself, but her gift of teaching and kind spirit made the week long "Bootcamp" workshop a joy for me and a memorable experience.

At this plein air workshop (painting outside from life, for those readers who don't know what that is!), the workshop participants went out with a buddy in the early mornings (it was summer in Nashville with the daily temperatures to go along with that!) and paint a small study of a subject. We would also go out in the afternoons and do the same. Both of these times were good to capture that special "light" you can only get in the morning and the late afternoon and evening. Then, we would take our small studies into the studio from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm and work with Dawn to choose those that "work" and paint them again on larger canvases. It was a great learning tool and a good thing to practice for people who enjoy painting plein air and also want to do some larger canvases. Dawn would also spend time each day instructing the group on various painting related topics and doing demos, which were just amazing to watch and so helpful. Anyway, despite the exhaustion I felt at the end of each day of bootcamp, I would not trade anything for the time spent with this wonderful teacher and artist. If you ever have the chance to take a workshop from her, do it!

I show these two paintings to illustrate one of my exercises. The small one is 8x10 (done outside in the open air) and the larger one is the one worked on back in the studio. The great thing about this technique is that you don't have to try to finish a large canvas outside with all the light conditions constantly changing, and you also learn things painting the scene the first time that you either correct on the larger canvas or improve upon if needed.  I have learned to look at these smaller studies as a kind of note taking for the larger canvases. However, I will also point out that the smaller studies sometimes have a freshness that you don't end up getting sometimes in the larger paintings. Either way, it is a great practice and I have learned so much from painting like this when doing plein air painting.


  1. Denise,
    Congratulations on blogging. I look forward to some wonderful art work. Really like the pieces you posted here. Both are wonderful.
    I am new to all of this also and look forward to seeing you at some workshop in the future!
    Take care,

  2. Hi Denise! Welcome to the world of blogging! I hope you find it as wonderful as I, and many others, do.

    Your two paintings are beautiful and your commentary is good, too. Thanks for sharing the info from your Dawn Whitelaw workshop.

    I lived in Nashville for six years and loved it! Tennessee is a great place.

  3. Hi Denise!Both your paintings are lovely and I loved the loose and bold brush strokes of your smaller work.It does have a freshness to it.
    Welcome to the blogosphere.Hope you have good time here and I would love to see more of your work.

  4. this is one of my favorite scenes. Your landscapes are very strong.

  5. Hi Denise, Welcome to blogger! Great job on this landscape. The greens and reds are wonderful! Nothing like plein air, can't wait to get back out in the spring!