I borrowed this phrase from the recently deceased Canadian painter Robert Genn who believed that there is only so much we can learn about how to paint from the many fine instructors and resources available today. The true learning comes from going off on our own and just doing it - Go to your room!

I have had the good fortune to take instruction from outstanding artists in Canada and the USA. I continue to work on my own development ( Going to MY room!) . I share, through this blog and workshops, what I have learned and what others have shared with me.

I created this blog primarily for those attending my workshops to keep in touch and to further share as we grow together. If others are interested in following that would be great.

Enjoy the journey.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

My week with Sara and Robt Genn

Just back from my five day workshop with Sara and Bob Genn . Workshop was at the Hollyhock Resort on Cortes Island. Great venue and a great week. The intent of the workshop was to paint from life and abstract or introduce a graphic simplification to the work . We painted morning and afternoon daily. The setting was wonderful with a great shorelines  and a magnificent garden. Lots of material for different interests.

The beauty of Cortes Island 

My wife , Cathy, enjoying the beautiful Hollyhock gardens 

I have often looked at Genn's paintings and wondered just what path he took to arrive at the final complex product. Now I know - at least much more -  about his process. It is very much a long series of layering, glazing, scumbling and then doing it all over again as needed. The reference is only the start point - where the painting ends is a mix of serendipity, patience, years of experience and good craftsmanship.

Robt in his "throne" 

Its a long and winding road  to get to the end of a Genn painting 

Sara doing an abstract demo - great paint mixing demo

For me, the help was in watching his complex back and forth dance. You know that has put in a lot of miles to know in advance  the outcome of the approaches he takes.

I painted long and fast, making 18 starts over the few days. None was over an hour. One thing I am very much convinced of was the benefit of the initial plan using the Montana Acrylic Markers that I described before. It gave a strong and fast sketch on the support once the plan was decided using  a couple of thumbnails.

Initial sketch on neutral value primed linen using acrylic markers 

Into the painting - working acrylic on my Art Box system. 

Result of a 20 min fast painting drill - he loves timed drills 

What were his comments for me: my work tends to be too dark  and I need to allow more for the brightness factor in the outdoor light and over lighten my work in the field - such that it is OK when moved  indoors. I often begin on a dark to black support - he got me working on a neutral to light background and I think it helped. He also wanted to see me lay in more solid areas with less fussy work  - a quiet restful often grayed area. So good stuff to work on.

The Genns worked tirelessly for the four days. I was very impressed by their energy and generosity of time and information. They gave excellent critiques at the end of the day . And he tells it as he sees it - which is refreshing.

Sara and Bob enjoying a quiet moment at low tide

I enjoyed the week. I was very impressed with these two instructors and appreciated the chance to see him at work. I enjoyed getting to meet Bob - a fascinating man.

So now its back to work.


  1. Such interesting feedback, it sounds like a great trip. 18 starts, that is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great synopsis Brian sounds like it was a great experience.


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