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GO TO YOUR ROOM ! 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 doing it - Go to your room!

I have had the good fortune to take instruction from outstanding artists in Canada and the USA. I am now focusing on my own development ( Going to MY room!) and sharing what I have learned and continue to learn. 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, 24 September 2013

Doug Braithwaite Workshop


Doug Braithwaite three day plein air workshop in Huntsville Utah.

Doug’s  plan was simple: he would teach and demo in the mornings and we would paint in the afternoons.  The day was 8 AM to 5:30 PM- that’s a long day for a plein air workshop and indicated that  he was going to be generous with his time. Fifteen students - and his wife Jeanette there to organize and help out.  

Right at the start the uniqueness of his approach was apparent. Doug uses a plein air system that he designed and built. It is unique and works well giving him a large glass mixing surface. He paints on heavy 5/8 MDF panels and sits them on a back board board that allows him to use a T square effectively as his maul stick. His panel is free to move and he is able to turn the  panel sideways or upside down to make specific strokes easier.  Really interesting and functional set up.


glass mixing surface


He uses a limited palette: titanium white, yellow ochre, cad yellow medium, cad red light, aliz crimson, pthalo blue, ultramarine blue and pthalo green. He begins by premixing his colours using careful observation relating his colours to those he sees in  nature for  his large shapes. Doug is a realist and works hard to make his colours and values correct as he sees it.



 Once his colours are mixed he applies an underpainting of ultramarine blue and aliz crimson ( a deep purple) and solvent loosely over the panel.  He then used paper towels and  QTips for pick out and applies heavier paint for the darks.  The plan takes shape. He can get quite detailed using this pick out approach. On day three he built the underpainting  by drawing the plan and then adding the darks (instead of pick out) with the purple underpainting.

Thin wash to begin


back board allows the use of the t square very effectively as a maul stick

Final stage pick out


The second phase has him taking paint from each pre-mixed pile and thinning with solvent ( he uses Turpenoid) and a bit of Liquin applying onto each of his shapes so that the paint blends with the under painting giving a colour direction for each shape but the overall value is darker and is “neutralized” by mixing into the purple under painting.

Second phase thinned colour added to underpainting

Testing colours

Panel free to move for easier working

In the third and final phase he uses the paint with a bit of Liquin and layers it such that paint from the same premixed piles when applied over the darker second phase the colours jump out visually  leaving the correct colour and value he wants.  


Day two demo almost finished

Day three demo almost finished


What is really remarkable is Doug’s  eye for colour and details and his incredible patience developing his paintings from a  loose construct to the final detailed work.  His brushstrokes convey so much information and are cleanly applied with confidence. He could stop much earlier and have achieved an excellent plein air piece but prefers to take the painting to a complete statement of what he sees.

Doug is a good and patient instructor . He and Jeanette are generous with their time and provided each student with samples of the brush cleaner he used and  each got a t square he makes himself. At the end of the workshop they invited us back to view their new Gallery and Dougs Studio – and a dish of Jeanettes peach cobbler.

Dougs large well organized studio


I got to purchase this sweet little piece Rooftops 8x10 – its full of the brushstrokes that I took the workshop to see so it’s like taking home a notebook full of ideas.

Rooftops   8x10 -


I have benefited from all of the many  workshops I have taken but few have met my expectations for learning as this one did. Very nice people working hard to help others learn.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this informative and very descriptive post. I was searching for a little more information on Doug's approach to painting the landscape in oils and this was very helpful. From one of the photos, it looks like he has included cad orange in with the other limited colors you mentioned, would that be right? I really like how he turns the painting around while working. Great post, sir!

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