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.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

And its off to Watts Atelier!

This morning Cathy and I head into the US and to Watts Atelier in Encinitas CA. While Cathy is enjoying the beaches of Oceaside I will be taking 6 days of intensive review with Jeff Watts painting portrait and figurative from life. Classes start at 10 AM go to dinner time, then the model remains until 10 PM. So long days. 

Why do I bother?  I spent 6 months at Watts in 2007 and did a similar workshop there two years ago.  its expensive, tiring, takes 3 days to get there and my art sales are predominantly plein air and studio landscapes. I am a different painter today as compared to even two years ago. Its like re-reading the same art book and finding so much "new stuff" as your skills progress. How am I different - I think my craft has improved ( paint handling, drawing) but mostly my confidence and artistic risk taking has increased. And I know what I want to get out of the workshop this time - I am not just going for the ride. 

My goal is to improve my ability to abstract the figure and portrait work . I am reasonably capable of producing a resemblance to my reference - but who cares. I have little interest in doing many commercial portraits - my interest is in creating  interesting pieces using the figure/ facial features as the basis. 

I want to be able to think of painting the figure/face as I do a landscape now. With the landscape I use my reference (photo or plein air) to get me started. As early as possible I work without the reference to try to make the work "stand on its own" - something interesting and maybe unique. So I need to be able to see accurately and record what I need ( use what I see) and have the knowledge then to apply to the work ( use what I know) to make it strong and then use my imagination to make it interesting (use creative instincts). 

Up to now in painting both figure and faces I hold fairly tight to my reference - that's how we learn , so its been OK - but only up to a point. Now its time to push beyond what I have been doing and use the figure and face to make work of interest. 

Take a look at some of the great masters, particularly Russian-Americans like Fechin and Sergei Bongart. In addition to Jeff Watts, existing artists I admire David Shelvino, Kevin Beilfuss, Carolyn Anderson,  Arnie Westerman  and the late Neil Boyle - to name just a few. What they do with the figure and face and how they make interesting compositions around them.  Many have DVDs and Utube videos to get an idea of how they work. 

So my goal is to relax and play and try to get the feel of plein air work in these figure/face paintings. If I succeed it will just be the beginning - takes many years of experimentation to see the change. 

After the 6 days with Jeff I will go onto the Weekend with the Masters in San Diego. To relax I will take three days of plein air: one with Joe McGurl and two with Ken Auster. 

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