Last week I was lucky enough to attend three days of a plein air workshop conducted by Ian Roberts and held through the Blue Mountain School of Landscape Painters in Thornbury Ontario.
Ian is recognized for his teaching on composition - both through his books and DVDS and Videos and his workshops in North America and Europe . In fact his book Mastering Composition has sold over 40,000 copies - a runaway hit for art books.
Ian is the kind of instructor you enjoy spending time with. Warm and friendly yet frank and honest. As expected, the focus of the workshop was composition. As you see him in his DVDs he spent the time between participants with notepad in hand critiquing designs and considering other options. As a result he spent little time doing demos - in fact, he stated that his demos would be short and pointed and preferred to spend time with the group. He spent little or no time discussing painting technique - other than colour mixing.
His workshop is not for beginners. Those with experience would benefit greatly moving their designs forward .
For me, I wanted his help with plein air design but also wanted the opportunity to get my oils out for the first time in a year. I needed a good "kick start" and this was a great opportunity. I plan to focus on oil plein air for the summer.
The Blue Mountain School of Landscape Painters is a not-for-profit group of volunteers that have been in existence for 35 years. Interesting, Ian's father was one of the original founders of the School. They only hold workshops each June and are all plein air. They are very organized. I have taught there the past two seasons and have been very impressed and enjoyed my time with them. As well, the selections of sites available for painting are outstanding. From Georgian Bay scenes, to the boat yard in Meaford, to beautiful rolling countryside and farms of Gray county and the Beaver Valley. And being non-profit their workshop pricing is very reasonable.