Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lori Putnam Still Life Workshop

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an impressionist still life workshop with artist Lori Putnam at her studio in Franklin, TN. It was a great group of artists and we all learned a lot about setting up a still life, lighting, and just details that I have not thought about before when doing this type of painting. Above you see a couple of the timed studies we did during the workshop. Different setups were done in short amounts of time to make us focus on capturing the general shapes of the colors and not focus on drawing an object and filling it in with paint. As many of us soon realized, this is harder than it sounds! It is our natural tendency as artists to want to draw or sketch off the boundaries of an object and then mix colors to fill in that object. Although I don't generally seek out to paint still life, I felt like it was good for me (kinda like taking vitamins) and my painting journey to learn these things. It should help me in my overall development as a painter, which is one of my main goals at this point.

Like Camille's workshop, the studies in this workshop were intended as studies and not finished paintings. I really like that and it takes the "pressure" off that we as aritsts put on ourselves to always create something that we can hang on the wall or sell. I need the practice and can always see that I improve in aspects of my painting when I paint with this attitude and frame of mind. I am able to let go of that little voice inside that tells me what I am doing is terrible and just learn. The final day we painted a very involved and larger set up and although I wasn't thrilled with the results of mine, I managed to focus on the techniques Lori was teaching us and felt I was successful at that.

I also used a new brand of paint for the first time and loved them.  Blue Ridge Oil Paints are made by Eric Silver in Asheville, NC. I can't really explain why but the paints feel so nice on my brush and as I apply them to the canvas. They are made with a combination of several oils, which you can read about if you are interested on their website. They seem to be slower drying to me than some of the other brands I have used lately, but of course, that is just my first impression. Lori is using these now along with other artists I know, so I decided to give them a try. I know that the brand(s) of oil paints an artist uses is a very personal and individual decision, but if you are looking to trying something new, give him a call. It is a small company and made in America, which are both positives in my book. Plus, he is open to suggestions and feedback from the artists "out here" and is sincerely trying to create a quality product.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

St. George's Art Show and Sale

"Watercolor Lake" 
9" x 12" oil on canvas panel

I was honored to be selected to participate in the St. George's Art Show and Sale in Collierville, TN again this year. It is a wonderful collection of artists from this area and the surrounding region and since my son graduated from there, it was fun for me to see my old friends and share my artwork with them. I did not paint when he was in school there (mostly because I was doing "mommy" stuff all the time!) so many old friends would see me standing there and say something like "Hey, are these YOURS??? I didn't know you were an artist!" I would then go into my discussion of how I needed to focus on something when my children began leaving the nest and art was my passion when I was younger, so it seems like the appropriate thing for me to do now. Anyway, it was a fun show and I sold a few paintings, including the one above to one of my son's math teachers when he was there who is also a sweet friend.

Another cool thing that happened and made me smile really big inside (and outside!) was a man (didn't know him) was walking with some speed down the hallway and just glanced over to where I was standing in a lounge area with my paintings displayed on the wall, and suddenly stopped and backed up and came over to one of my paintings. He stared and looked closely for a minute and then looked at me and said "Are these yours?" I politely said "Yes, they are," not knowing what he was about to say next. He then said "Wow, these are fantastic! This one 'spoke' to me from over there!" Now, I don't know about the rest of my artist friends out there that may be reading this, but this is music to my ears as a painter! I thought "Do other people really have that happen to them too?" I mean, I have that happen a lot and those are the paintings that I dream about, think about, look at over and over (if I can be fortunate enough to buy it or at least find an image online to stare at repeatedly). I was able to stop smiling long enough to thank him and then chat about plein air painting (which he read about on my bio hanging next to my work) and the joy that painting brings me. It was one satisfying moment. And no, he didn't buy that painting, but that compliment was worth all the work I put into that painting and all the others up to this point in my painting journey. 

I also want to share a photo of my artist friend and fellow Chestnut Group member from Nashville, Tiffany Myers Foss, below. She was also invited to participate in the show and it was so fun to hang out with her and her sweet husband some and chat! It was a great show all around and one I was happy to participate in!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Workshop with Camille Przewodek

My third workshop in October was a five day workshop called "Color Bootcamp" with the fabulous artist, Camille Przewodek. I first must say that it was a different kind of workshop from any other that I have done before. Camille is a Colorist and paints in tradition of the Cape Cod School, and trained with Henry Hensche. Her workshop was about LEARNING about color and this method of painting and seeing the effect of light on color, and not about making finished paintings, studying composition, values, or any other of the many aspects of good art. All of the work we produced that week was like note-taking - not finished paintings. We worked exclusively with a palette knife, which was different for most of the artists there. The reason for this was so that we could get clean color mixes and not using a brush where remnants of the previous color can remain.

Needless to say, there was a lot of moaning and groaning initially from those of us (me included!) that were not used to using the palette knife exclusively on a painting. However, we all quickly learned how to make it work, and continued on. Camille is an excellent teacher and knew that immersing us in this method first off and immediately was the best way for us to learn and understand. In my head, I called it "trail by fire," but soon realized that it was working. She does some very valuable things in her workshop, such as have us all walk around and see each other's progress so that we can learn from not only our successes and mistakes, but also those of others in the class. And we did this very often during the day and not just at the end of the week, like a workshop critique in other workshops I have taken. I felt this was very informative and helped me see so many things more clearly.

We spent the first two days working with blocks in the sunlight (and on gray days when we had cloud cover). Then we spend the next two days on location painting buildings outside, and the landscape also. We painted one day at the beautiful location that you see above. As you view this painting, please remember it is not a finished painting and only a block in using the techniques that Camille teaches. She believes, as do many others out there, that you must have many starts in order to begin to understand this method and how to represent the effect of light on colors. The final day we spent painting models that were hired to sit for us. I have not done much work before with live models so that was a great experience for me.

I also loved having her husband, Dale Axelrod, there too helping with the workshop. Dale and his ever present timer (to tell us when to start and stop on the studies) was so helpful and I really enjoyed the banter between the two during the week. He kept us all organized and moving right along! Also, Camille has a wonderful sense of humor (not understood by all) and gift of knowledge that was so refreshing and I thoroughly enjoyed my week with her.

I also met a great group of women from Louisiana that came together to paint and had two of my art friends from Arkansas there also in the workshop. We all stayed at the same hotel and enjoyed hanging out together in the evenings and at breakfast and lunches. We tried not to be too annoying but I am sure that the people at the Madison, MS, Embassy Suites thought there was something wrong with us most of the time! Again, the people I meet at these workshops are one of the main reasons I continue to go. We learn so much from each other and laugh so much that it makes the workshop experience even more fun!

If you have ever wanted to learn more about Henry Hensche and this method of studying color and the effect of light on color in painting with pigments, this is the workshop for you. Not for the faint of heart and not for someone who isn't willing to work hard though. It isn't a vacation where you paint. Camille pushes you to think outside the box and it is a huge undertaking if you are used to painting in a different way.

I am including another one of my studies below of a building across the street from our classroom. Again, it is a beginning STUDY of color and the effect of light on color and NOT a finished painting. You may be able to tell that I used a brush on this one, which was fine, but I went back to the palette knife on the next study because I had found I did indeed get cleaner mixes and applications with it.

At the beginning of this month, Camille had a video released and if this is something you think you might be interested in learning about, I suggest you try the video. Also, she will be featured in the next Plein Air Magazine and so if you receive that magazine, look for an article about her. All in all, it was a wonderful workshop and I feel like I learned a lot and also had fun at the same time! She is truly a modern day Master in this style of painting and I feel fortunate to have spent this small amount of time studying with her!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Workshop with Dee Beard Dean

"Old Well House" 
8" x 10" oil on linen panel

For my second October workshop experience, I spent a few days in beautiful St. Simons Island, GA, with the talented and inspiring Dee Beard Dean. If you are not familiar with her work, click on the link and enjoy a feast for the eyes! She is not only a talented artist, but also a beautiful and energetic woman who shares her knowledge of painting and life with those around her. 

The workshop was sponsored by Anderson Fine Art Gallery in St. Simons. They made sure everything was perfect and accomodating for the artists in the workshop, including catered on-site lunches when we were painting outside or even in the studio space arranged for the workshop participants. This is a nice feature because I always hate taking time out during a workshop to search out something for lunch, and the catered lunches were fabulous and a real time saver. 

I painted the above painting outside on the first day of the workshop after a great demo by Dee. Each day of the workshop, we would meet in the studio space and Dee discussed different aspects of painting that she feels is important, whether painting plein air or in the studio. Then, we would venture out to painting locations and Dee would come around and help each artist at their easels. Her advice and encouragement was invaluable to me and I will treasure the time I spent with her. 

We had a rainy/windy day and decided to stay inside and paint. The painting below is done from one of my reference photos that I painted from my iPad. I LOVE using my iPad rather than my computer or photos for painting because it is small and will fit right on my easel side panels, and you get the benefit of backlighting that you don't get from a photo. STILL not at great as painting outside to see true colors and light, but second best in my opinion. 

 "Sunset Dunes"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
And another great happening of this workshop is my purchase of two of Dee's beautiful paintings! I love collecting art too and these paintings are now hanging in my office at home where I can see them daily!