Friday, November 30, 2012

Landscape Fiddling

Today's Demonstration

In fact, we had no class today.

Remember the question "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Well then, in that same spirit, what is the answer to the question "if it's a class day, and there are no students, does the instructor still do a demonstration?"

Of course he does.
Here's a landscape demonstration from today, totally imagined, 25"x20".

This photo is a more correct version of the painting 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drawing in France 3

French Dreamin' ---Part Three

Well, the French drawing posts have certainly been drawing comments and visitors. If you keep stopping by, and keep commenting, I'll keep posting.

Today's group are straight from a French sketchbook. the pages are roughly 8 1/2 x 11" in the original, reduced to fit on the blog page.

You'll see that I generally stress those parts which I most need to remember (often structures and buildings) and I often do the landscape just in outline. Sometimes all I'm after is the sweep of a particular composition, not the particular facts.

In any event, enjoy these pages...and comment (or else!)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drawing in France

French Dreamin' --Part Two

Yesterday's post had a lot of visitors, not least from Egypt, Poland and France. So I thought I might post some more drawings. Some are close to where we'll be, others are a bit farther out. 

They all suffer from those same second- or third-generation issues, but I hope you'll enjoy them.

Nothing is more important to a good painting than good drawing----not just drawing as lines, masses and values, but drawing as a conceptual act, irrespective of mark making.

The best advice I can give is draw, draw, and then draw some more.

Please leave a comment if these are at all helpful.


p.s. At the bottom is a still-life from a few years ago. It seems appropriate since it includes a Michelin Guide---another kind of French Dreamin'.


Hmmm...should be "aux" Buissons, methinks (Jon?)



Monday, November 26, 2012

Drawing in France

French Dreamin'

While putting together material for the upcoming blog post about the French Workshop (24-30 June 2013) I was looking through some drawings from the area where we'll be.

When I make sketchbook drawings such as these, I often treat different parts of the drawing in different ways. You'll see that I often just indicate the trees while describing the buildings quite accurately.

Hope you enjoy these. They are, unfortunately, not scanned from the drawings themselves, but from previous low-quality facsimiles----with all the loss of nuance that suggests. Sorry!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Landscape 911

Let's be Perfectly Clear---as long as possible.

Each week my students fall asleep as they hear me say, yet again, "Keep your colors transparent as long as you possibly can!"

I'm a firm believer in the precept  "keep your darks transparent, and load your lights". In my teaching, I try to get students to solve compositional and values issues while still in a transparent stage, before the temptation to color causes muddy mixtures as a consequence of muddy thinking.

Personally, I like to stay transparent as long as possible. This allows me to keep all my options open. An example is this grisaille that I did for my weekly plein air class yesterday. The canvas is 20"x20". This is a big canvas to attempt to take very far when one is also helping students at their easels. By leaving the hasty lay-in en grisaille, I could allow myself to think about the painting more later, when not in class.

Grisaille, strictly speaking, means "in grays', suggesting a nuanced black and white painting. In my loose usage, it means painting essentially in monochrome while keeping everything transparent. In a sense it's just drawing with the brush. With few exceptions, I do this with a mixture of burnt umber and ultramarine. For both I use Rembrandt colors because they are somewhat less-pigmented than some other brands and thus are easier to use transparently. The mixture varies during the grisaille, sometimes tending to the cool side and sometimes toward the warm. In this particular sketch I also used some W&N Prussian green (also transparent) for the grass and large shrub.

This morning, when I arrived at the studio, I immediately thought that I'd like to make yesterday's grisaille into a moonlit scene instead. I was able to completely change my conception of the painting because I'd done my lay-in just in values, essentially drawn in monochrome. If I'd hastily started slapping color on yesterday, under the noonday sun, I wouldn't have had today's option.

I put a quick covering of some homemade Payne's Gray-like color on the sky---just slapped it on. This particular mixture was just ivory black, ultramarine and OH mixed white. It has neither the usual tiny bit of red or of yellow ocher. For now I just wanted a cool, dark color.

I covered the rest with a very thin veil of pure, transparent ultramarine and then wiped off selected areas of the blue to become the "moonlight" on the building. Those bits of ultramarine that remained in the otherwise wiped areas became cast shadows from imaginary branches behind the viewer.

Here's a detail, probably close to actual size.

At this stage of the painting everything is, both literally and figuratively, still fluid. I could yet find a mid-day painting by giving it a different, lighter sky. But I think I'll cast my lot with moonlight.

Now all I have to do is correct the architecture, construct the trees, adjust the values, and paint the painting. Perhaps I'll do none of that, and just enjoy having had fun with it today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Workshops! Workshops!

February and June 2013 Workshops!

The details of the Cotswold Workshop, 10-16 June 2013, are now posted on the the workshop blog.

Have a gander at the details

The French Workshop, 24-30 June, will be posted shortly.

The English and French workshops are designed to be easily taken together, though they may be taken singly. There's a week in-between for travel, sightseeing, or just relaxing. Saving air fare is a great bonus for everyone. Several students are already signed up for both, eager to explore these quite different landscapes. English gardens in June and early summer in La France profonde----how can you beat that?! 

Details will be posted shortly, too, about the Savannah, Georgia Workshop, 11-15 February 2013.

Personally, I'm looking forward to dining with Paula Deen on West Congress Street...not to mention plein air painting in the middle of winter!

All of these workshops already have subscribers. Please don't dillydally if you'd like to join one.

You may write to me here with a reservation request, or to ask questions. Possibly Santa Claus will have an interest?

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Studio Visit

A Visit to the Studio

I've been asked a number of times to post some photos of my studio for all the atelier voyeurs out there. Because I've just had to clean it up for our local Open Studios weekend, I guess this is a good time to
put up some photos. These were all taken, hurriedly, with my phone.
They weren't intended to be the basis of a blog post. So be kind!

Above is a very grainy photo of a 48x72" painting in progress, with my palette table to the right.

And the palette table, closer up.

And here are a couple of other shots around the studio.

It's a bit dark for many artists' practice, but it suits me just fine. You'll see that I keep the venetian blinds drawn. Since what I'm painting isn't actually in front of me, I don't need the even temperature of north light. But I do need consistency. By always painting under my lights, the conditions are always the same and----day or night----I can pick up exactly where I left off, under exactly the same conditions as I had left it. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Painting in November

Rough Meadows Septet

On Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3, we had consecutive classes with different casts (for the most part). Both days we went to Rough Meadows Audubon Sanctuary in Rowley, Massachusetts.

Part of the Great Marsh, this property is a landscape painter's dream, especially in the autumn. For the two classes, I decided to divide up a 24x30" canvas into seven parts. I toned the lower portion of five of the rectangles, and completely toned the remaining two, vertical ones.

Because both days were class days, I wasn't able to spend much time on my own canvas, but here's what I got down.

One the right-middle, vertical panel, I showed that another strategy for making trees is to paint the negative spaces (the sky) so that the trees emerge as positive shapes.
We had Open Studios last weekend in Amesbury, and a lot of time was spent trying to make my studio presentable. This was followed with two intense days of meeting and greeting, very enjoyable, but very tiring. I mention this because it explains why I haven't got much further on the septet.
Last Friday, the 9th, we were again back at Rough Meadows. Here's a 16x20" quartet of grisailles done then. It seems I'm much like a squirrel at this time of the year: going crazy, saving nuts for winter.

A few of us went back to the site this past Monday, a beautiful, stolen, plein air day...66 degrees and sunshine on the twelfth of November.

And, as if that weren't blessing enough, Bill and Deb showed up at lunchtime with home-made clam chowder. Delicious! Thanks again.

Studio time, yesterday and today, gave me a bit of a chance to think about what I wanted to do with the Septet. Here's where I got to. Much yet to be done, of course. But I now know pretty much what each section will be like.

Hope you're finding plein air painting days where you are----if so, leave a comment (below) and let us know.

Paint well!