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.

Monday 27 February 2012

Preparing for plein air - Workshop

Completed my first Preparing for Plein air Workshop on the weekend. Had a great group of enthusiastic plein air wana-bes

To fully enjoy painting on location you need to have a reasonable level of painting skills before you try to tackle the challenges of plein air.  But even with those basic skills plein air is intimidating. So the focus was on planning. Making choices of what to include or eliminate, establishing horizon lines and playing with space division - fore mid and background. All this and more can most easily be learned with pencil and pad.

 I think most would advance by sketching on location - making various interpretations of the scene, making a final selection of their composition of choice, taking photos - then returning to the studio to apply the paint under more controlled conditions until they felt comfortable and confident and were properly equipped to complete paintings on location. 

As for me, I am spending more and more time simply sketching on location - working to improve my eye  and my compositions. 

It was a fun weekend. I enjoy the enthusiasm of a group of  artists working together and being challenged with new ideas. 

My thanks to Island Arts Magazine for organizing the workshop. 

Thursday 23 February 2012

No more tea cups!

 I left off last post trying decide about material I could use for quick studies in oil to work on some of the techniques that Carol  Marine demonstrated.  I might have found it. I have had the good fortune to have traveled extensively in my previous life and have some interesting photos of  people and faces (and lots of cows and sheep). And our good friends the Ulmis have given me wonderful photos of their many travels to exotic places. So I thought I might try quick studies of faces - "faces of the world".  

Great challenges in small format and no different than an apple or orange for creating form and playing with edges. So these are my first attempt. Goal is to be playful and create impressionistic feel. 

Both 6x6 on acrylic primed linen glued to door-skin.

Also, tried a softer brush - a Connoisseur White Taklon - brights 6 and 8  - and liked them on the linen. Goal is to complete in less than an hour - these about 45 min each.

These are from two Ulmi photos from Tibet.

 Hoping to do two or three a week .

Quite fun to do.

thin wash of Indian Yellow and Alizaran Crimson  -paint water  soluble oil 

Wednesday 22 February 2012

So, what did I learn from Carol Marine?

When I say I learned it - well, that's a wee bit of an exaggeration. Learning it means I can now do it. So lets call it the list of things she does that I find interesting and worth working on - thinking they would help my work - both oils and acrylics. Got to remember she is painting small still life - 6x6 panels- and subject is a variety of small objects with strong lighting.

1. Composition.  Carol spends a great deal of time designing her compositions. Very thoughtful of positive and negative - a shape is a shape. Used overlap a reinforce a feeling of depth in such as small space. She uses three point perspective - narrowing tall vertical elements as they descend (like a sky scraper in mirror image) again to add dimension and depth to her small setups. She considers colours (value, hue , temperature ) of her objects and uses them to effect.  Very thoughtfully done.

2. Palette.  Carol is probably as good as anyone I have seen working with a limited palette and mixing in a highly organized fashion. Small pools building on one another modifiying hue, saturation, temperature and value very subtly.

3. Grays. She is a master of subtle grays. I make grays in two ways: the traditional combinatin of compliments and adding white as needed, or using pre-mixed grays of know value and adding hue as needed. She starts with three primary hues: red, yellow and blue. She plays with a variety of each - warm yellow on cool reds, etc.  She modifies the temperature and hue direction of these grays as required. They are very subtle and sensitive when applied to the palette.

4. Overall value. Her dominant value is generally in the mid range. Many of her paintings are subdued with high values held in reserve until the final kick. When she applies her highlights (usually applied on a small spot of transitional value below) they JUMP off the canvas. Highlights are a mix of white, the color of the object and the colour of the light source.

5. Edges. This is what I love the most. Carol builds each object from the center using a fairly heavy load of paint. She then feathers (thins) the paint out beyond the edge of the object at points. When she carves the back-ground/negative spaces around the object it creates a transition that is interesting and high in "energy".
6. Shadows. Like above, Carol uses great transitional values and colour to bring her shadows to light. She consciously thinks about creating the penumbra (look it up!) for each and again it adds energy to her small pieces.

7. Lay it and leave it. Carol works in spots of colour - one beside the next. Something I admire and have been trying to strengthen in my oil pieces and what I use as a form of blending in my acrylics. She just does it so darn well.

8. Surface. She prefers to work on a smooth surface using fairly soft bright synthetics. I play with it but much prefer the more textured linen.

Those are the main points that come to mind. Helps me to write them down then they become concrete learning objectives for me.

So what am I going to do now? I need to get back to my large acrylic pieces ( I have been playing with these small oils for weeks now trying to be prepared for her workshop) but first I need to play and practice with some of the skills she displayed.  But I am not into eggs, orange wedges, apples or tea cups. So need to find an interest that will work in a small format then play with the skills.

Friday 17 February 2012

Carol Marine - Last two days !

The workshop is over. I am pooped and pumped!

Day four was a bit on drawing, colour theory and composition. And drills and more drills, fast small paintings. 
Today, day five, we just did our own thing in the AM and watched our final demo. The photo is the demo and I now own it - won the draw to purchase it from Carol and I am very pleased to be bringing it home to my studio. In the afternoon we discussed art marketing, on line marketing and other topics related to selling. 

Its been a great week. One of the better workshops I have taken. Carol was excellent as were the facilities and organization with Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio

I head back tomorrow looking forward to practicing some of the drills and preparing for my workshop Preparing for Plein Air which begins next Saturday.

Thank you Carol

Thursday 16 February 2012

Carol Marine - Half way

Its now Thursday morning. Three days into the Carol Marine workshop. 

Day one - a general overview and discussion and we make paintings " our way" . Lets her see how we normally "perform". 

Day two - values - many small sketches starting with a burnt umber monochrome - dividing a 6x6 canvas into four squares making four small starts ( yes, I did say 6 x6 divided into four). Great exercise. Day three - more small sketches. Then making paintings one stroke at a time ( one spot of colour laid down next to the first ....  lay it and leave it - love this stuff!). Finally a discussion and exercise on composition for still life.  To day will be colour theory. 

My comments: this is a good workshop focusing on fundamentals and giving exercises to work on. Good demos. Presentations are good - it would be hard not to like this young lady. Its somewhat overwhelming - which a good workshop should be. By day three you want to quit painting - and I have enough workshop experience now to know that is normal and good. Means you are being pushed and are pushing yourself. 

Workshop is organized by Whidbey IslandFine Art Studio. Organization is excellent as is the facility. Had us all back to her home to share a lovely meal with other local artists. Very warm and friendly. Highly recommend it as place to take workshops. 

Returned to my motel to find I had sold another painting through Daily Paintworks - this time going to Seattle. Its an online company that Carol and her husband David have developed and is flourishing. So I had a total Marine day and it was great.

Beyond Filberg 

Monday 13 February 2012

I made it! Carol Marine Workshop

I am here. Carol Marine workshop at  Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio in upper Washington State. Lovely little town. Workshops are held at a 4H building at the local fair grounds - great room and well organized. 

Off to a good start. Great demo, good discussion, good teacher, lots of one-on-one time  - looking forward to the week. Will keep you posted. 

My goal here is to improve my confidence using oils - in particular laying correct spots of colour. 

"Painting is like golf - the better you get the few strokes you need" - Carol 

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Really, an in-door plein air workshop????

Yesterday I received another a question about the scheduled workshops
Preparing for Plein Air  - see sidebar for details. 

'Why would you  teach plein air painting indoors in such a beautiful place?  '

The answer is simply because most will benefit far more from developing  the best system and habits before they try to tackle Mother Nature. And many artists with some experience in plein air painting can benefit from taking one step back in order to take two forward.

Many highly skilled studio painters are defeated by painting on location - its a different animal and you need to be prepared in order to handle it. 

I have had the good fortune to have taken workshops from some exceptional plein air painters. The best spent at least one or two days preparing students prior to trying to tackle on-location work.  In many of the workshops, students were  simply exposed  to the work of the instructor ( paint-like-me workshops). Sure, its fun to watch the best at work, but they had a long road getting to that level and if they don't take the students back to the starting point its time and money wasted.
The curator of the Campbell River Art Gallery read that I was taking this approach to teaching plein air painting. The Gallery  had organized plein air workshops in recent years and she said that many of the students reported that they were frustrated and challenged by the experience. She got it! I will be holding a workshop there in April. 

And while the plan is to develop skills and habits in-doors, if weather permits we will be taking sketch pads outside  to practice the most important steps in plein air - selection and simplification. 

There are a few spots remaining in the February workshop in Qualicum Bay and registrations have just begun in the Campbell River workshop in April.

See the sidebar for details. Hope to see you there. 

Sunday 5 February 2012

Norman Finished - Maybe

In a previous post I showed my approach to drawing and starting the acrylic painting Norman - 30x40 ".  The painting has hung in my living room since and I have considered what the painting needed to call it finished.

I wanted a strong front end - head and forelegs. I wanted the rear to be softened and move back into the painting. I softened the value of the rear and the rear lower legs and the front inside hoof. I softened the edges on the tail, hind legs and upper pelvic area. 

 I played with value and temperature changes in the background and decided on a "blurred" mix of warm and cool at lighter values than the subject. I also wanted to show motion and forced the shadow value below the rear right hoof and kept the hoof " in the air ". I also added the warm/cool loose "dust" around the feet. 

To bring the head forward I strengthened the darks and hardened the edges and added spots of warm reds. Maybe overdone? 

I am still not sure I have taken it in the right direction so again it will hang and be considered while I decide. 

Reference photo 
Initial sketch and value plan in transparent under painting 

Drawing corrections using white China Marker 
Building with opaques