Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jennifer McChristian Workshop

Last week I participated in a workshop with the fabulous artist and painter, Jennifer McChristian. It was in Scottsdale, AZ, so my art friend and I, Judy Nocifora, went on an extended road trip and traipsed across 5 states for 3 days to get there! Yes, I know you are thinking we could've flown much quicker, but neither of us had ever been to New Mexico nor Arizona, so it was fun to see more of the country.

The workshop was all that I thought it would be and more. If you are familiar with Jennifer's work, you know that she is a master at capturing values and the light in a painting, and she often paints scenes that the "average" artist wouldn't even look at twice. However, her mastery of choosing the unusual composition and making it read just right and excite the viewer is uncanny in person. She definitely has a gift for seeing those little things that I just walk right past on a day to day basis and making them into a beautiful and inspiring painting!

On the first day of the workshop, Scottsdale had a little rain and cold temps, so we stayed inside the beautiful Scottsdale Artists School in the classroom and Jennifer talked about her preferred supplies and other interesting things that she does with her paintings and her painting experiences. She also demonstrated to us (from a photo) of how to do a value study in three values of gray paint plus white, which we would mix ourselves and do during the week for our own plein air paintings. Although the photo above is at an angle, you can see the photo on the left that she worked from, the gray painted value study, and the demo painting. I have done value studies before in neutral tones of brown or in pencil or marker, but this was a very cool learning experience for me. Not only with the mixing of the three grays and trying to get them at just the right value according to the value scales she gave us, but just simplifying the shapes enough and squinting to make sure to decide what value each shape would be on the resulting study.

Below is a photo of my first practice value study on the second day of the workshop and the resulting color study. I superimposed the reference photo over the top of the canvas so you can see what I was looking at. These studies are done on a 9"x12" canvas which has been taped off with 1/2" tape into 4 equal quadrants, resulting in a very small place to paint. The good thing about working on this almost postcard sized area is that you can't get too involved in details and it makes it easier to concentrate on the big shapes and simplifying your values into just three or four values. Which, of course, was our mission for this week!

Now, I must say here, I approach all of my workshop pieces as the LEARNING experience that they are and do not try to come home with finished paintings that I would sell in a gallery or even hang in my own home. I see so many workshop participants, especially beginners, that stress themselves out trying to get a perfect painting and I prefer not to do that to myself. It is a such a freeing feeling knowing that you can learn and experiment with the things you are learning from the instructor "in the moment" and not pressure yourself to create a 'masterpiece'. My advice for workshop goers, for whatever it is worth, is to do the same thing, especially if you are trying to learn something new that you will carry over into your own future painting experiences! More to come tomorrow!

Monday, March 28, 2011

"A Tomato Connection" 6x6

"A Tomato Connection"
6x6 oil on canvas panel

So happy to be back from my road trip to Arizona! I had a wonderful workshop with Jennifer McChristian, who is not only a fabulous painter, but also a really fun person! I will post some things I did and learned there in future posts when I get photos uploaded and laundry done!
This is a painting of tomatoes I did back during the cold winter. I had fun making the striped paper with my old scrapbooking supplies. This idea came from a fellow artist and wonderful painter, Carolyn Finnell. I thought I was up for the challenge of a striped background instead of my usual solid. I love tomatoes to eat and they are pretty fun to paint also!

This painting is available for purchase in my Etsy shop, Denise Rose Studio.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Blue Pot and Pear" 11x14

"Blue Pot and Pear"
11"x14" oil on linen canvas panel

This is the final piece I did at Nancy Franke's workshop. Our focus this time was to work on making the pot look rounded by using colors and values. I used that artistic license again and replaced the orange that was in the setup with a pear. Because of the workshop setting and the fact that four artists were painting the same setup, the orange appeared right in the middle of the pot from my angle, so I just deleted it and put a pear in the setup in a more eye pleasing position. I also worked on keeping the background light and loose. 

I am on my way to Arizona for a plein air workshop with Jennifer McChristian. I am so excited and feel very blessed to be able to study with such a talented artist and travel with my good friend, Judy Nocifora. I will try to post photos during the workshop!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Coral Tulips" 11x14

"Coral Tulips"
11"x14" oil on linen canvas

This is another painting from my workshop with Nancy Franke. The tulips were really not this color, but once I mixed it and got paint on the canvas, I just decided that it looked great! Nice thing about painting, you get this thing called and "artistic license" and you can choose to use it whenever you want to, which is what I did here! I have pretty much stayed away from glass things so far in my still life painting, but am feeling a little more confident now that I have done a couple of jars and vases. It really is just "paint what you see," but sometimes my brain gets in the way of what I see and I try to paint what I THINK I see!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"White Roses and Lemons" 11 x 14

"White Roses and Lemons"
11 x 14 oil on linen canvas panel

I just returned from Atlanta and a workshop with Nancy Franke. She is a fabulous teacher and wonderful painter, and just such a fun and inspiring person to be around. I don't have enough good adjectives to describe how much I got from her and these two days spent painting with her. I have been following her work since I started painting again and have always been interested in the sketchy, loose manner in which she paints. She is a very generous teacher and had us busy and working the entire two days! I not only loved being there with my friends, Judy Nocifora and Kathy Cousart, but also met 15 other people in the workshop also who were nothing but encouraging to each other and also fun to talk and visit with. 

This painting is one of the still life paintings we did while there. We painted in groups of four and each group "designed" their own set up. I am not so great at that yet since I have done very little still life painting, so I was happy my cohorts were better than me! I also did a few other paintings there and will post those in upcoming blog posts. Below is a group photo taken on the last day of the workshop.