One thing about Tennessee weather is that it changes frequently...like every 5 minutes. Day 3 we were promised thunderstorms but it began instead with sunshine and big puffy clouds. Very pretty. Our painting location was moved back to OnTrack Studio because the forecast created the need for indoor painting possibilities.
Today's subject was Concept; why am I painting this? What draws me into this scene? What am I trying to say, to capture? Marc's assignment to us was to go find something we wanted to paint and choose a few words to describe what the big idea is. He discussed the difference between illustration vs. emotion in a painting. Illustration will give the viewer the hard facts, the lines, the colors. To be successful as an artist/painter, we must want to evoke emotion in the viewer and this will take time and experience. I wonder if I can apply this to the problems I encountered yesterday with the unsatisfying creek painting. I knew how I was responding emotionally to the peaceful flowing water but can see that I need more experience to be able to intuit values and colors to communicate the loveliness.
Today I was determined! So, what caught my eye was the enchanting simplicity of the red-roofed shed with baskets hanging off the eaves (and the shed behind it with the red wagon repeating the roof color), all nestled against the explosion of cool green trees. (I guess that's more than a few words to express the Big Idea)
I set up my kit on the lawn (out in the open) and painted hard, with one eye glancing upward as the sky did its changeable thing. Uh oh, thunder in the distance. My setup was only 20 feet or so from the covered deck; I had time. A few minutes more painting...I really was forced to concentrate: where are the shadows, how saggy should I make the roofline? how dark do I go in the back shed? Yikes! That is a very dark cloud heading this direction! What did Marc say about intuition? Mine was telling me it was time to move to shelter. Two minutes after everything was safely relocated, the heavens opened (and not with angels!) This is my quick 2 hour painting:
The storm brought a sudden drop in temperature and the day went from low 80s to low 60s. Some of us got kinda chilly. We gathered for a final demo by Marc and a critique session of the work we each had accomplished, which sounds scary but wasn't. Marc helped us learn from each others successes and challenges. We were able to ask questions and encourage one another, and we finished with a sense of community and camaraderie. Much appreciation to Marc Hanson for giving us such a fantastic workshop!
Tuesday morning we gather on the porch of Leiper's Fork Gallery and then make our way a mile or two down the road to a beautiful ranch, familiar to many of us from previous workshops and paint-outs. Because it's Spring in Tennessee, we spent several minutes spraying ourselves silly with various versions of anti-tick & chigger sprays. You cannot be too careful!
Marc Hanson, again, started us out by sharing his vast knowledge, this time covering the topic of color, which is no small subject matter. You can tell when someone has truly wrestled with and mastered an issue; they speak with what could be described as grace. Big words and flashy accessories are not required...Marc plunged through a wealth of information about the primary colors and their characteristics, the warm and cool versions of each, the subjectiveness of color temperature, the need for both knowledge and intuition with color decisions.
For me, the big take-away was to learn to mix colors intelligently. This requires that I observe how much red or blue or yellow is in the local color of the scene I am painting, the intuition of how warm or cool that color may need to be, the knowledge of which version of the primaries to choose to reach that desired color.
We were then turned loose to find the scene that was speaking to each of us. This was the one I chose:
Isn't it pretty? Tennessee basically comes in one color in the spring. If you guessed "green" you would be correct! And green just happens to be one of the most challenging, not only to mix, but to render it in such a way that is actually pleasing in a painting is super difficult. I knew that going into my painting, but still happily had naive hopes that I could work it out.
What did happen was sort of a murky green mess, but, as you mindful readers know, it is our mistakes that teach us the most!
Lucky for me, Marc chose the same part of the creek to paint his demo. Now I could see how a master handles all that yellowish green.
Thank you for reading my blog!!
A beautiful Spring day, perfect for a painting workshop! We began the day...well, after the torturous drive through Nashville rush hour traffic to get to OnTrack Studio in Franklin...on the covered porch with Marc Hanson talking with all of us about his favorite supplies and discoveries. He generously shared his thoughts about brushes, supports, and miscellaneous tidbits (such as: Utrecht brand titanium white stays more fluid than other brands in cold weather.) He embraces a humble attitude when it comes to the tools of painting, having found that $4 brushes (Simply Simmons) work just as well as the high end brushes for much of the lay-in of a painting and a sun-shield from Walmart is handy for shading a canvas. He stores his many palette knives in the $3 plastic brush holder from Hobby Lobby. Gotta love the practicality!
His demonstration painting took us right to the heart of the day's lesson...to get the composition and values correct at the start. #colorgetsalltheglorybutvaluedoesallthework Dividing a large canvas into 4 sections, he painted one light-valued scene, one middle-value scene, one dark-value scene, and one final scene evenly weighted with all 3 values.
When a painting is done with the correct values, it will "read" beautifully even in shades of gray. Here is Marc's demo done in the late afternoon on Day 1:
THIS IS NOT MY PAINTING!!
The reason it looks so fabulous is that it is the work of a Master... who was teaching all of us passionate students how to create something beautiful.
Tomorrow (Day 2) we will be allowed to play with color. That will be in the next blog post. Thanks for reading!!
Hello! My name is Wendy and I am passionate about oil painting! Whether in the studio or out in Mother Nature, I get lost in the experience of capturing on canvas the moment and the feel of what I am painting. I pour my love and energy into every single piece of artwork and I hope it shows! This blog is a place where I can use words to talk about art, painting, life, faith, things that make me laugh, and things that inspire. I love every response, so don't be shy about leaving a comment...