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.

Friday 28 March 2014

William Hook Workshop at Scottsdale Artists School

Just finished the five day William Hook acrylic workshop for advanced painters. The venue was the Scottsdale Artists School. What a great venue. Beautiful facility in the heart of Scottsdale with a strong list of workshops and weekly classes.

I have tried to take this workshop for the past few years but always had conflicts. Reason for my interest is the way he works with acrylics - direct and simple using only tube paints and one large brush. So different from my indirect approach of underpainting, working in layers, glazing, using liquids etc. I am also attracted to his colour choices and his eye for composition. 

Hook ( as he is called) makes all his small pieces, including plein air, on 12 x12 Fredrix Canvas Boards. He works on white canvas. His paints are Liquatex. His palette is limited. He mixes on a white metal or plastic tray. He literally used one brush the entire week - an synthetic White Dalcon brush - about 1 inch bright (but longer than the average bright I use)  - made by Grumbacker (no longer available).  Very impressive to watch him work the brush from broad to fine strokes. The final product was very painterly - giving the impression of oil paintings.  

Like me he does not try to put down the finished spots of colour but works towards it is by multiple layering and very visible brush strokes. 

Over the five days  he made four demos limited to about one hour each - then over the week spent a bit more time making finishes. 

Bright brush working on flat

Brush on edge

Liquatex selection 

His four 12x12 demos - without finishing touches
Each day we produced a piece from the demo he did then painted from our own references for the rest of the day. My goal was to work as he did - direct with large brush and heavy paint. Many of the references I used before but wanted to try this approach for the workshop. It took a while but I quite enjoyed this simpler more direct approach. Like him I tried to limit my pieces to about a hour - I did 16 in total. A few might be worth spending more time on. In all cases I was happy with the outcome considering this different approach.  Each is either 11x14 or 12x16 on linen.

The workshop was as described. The 11 participants were the most accomplished of any group I had painted with. There was no discussion of fundamentals - it was about working with acrylics - his approach: high viscosity paint, water, no medium, one brush. 

Hook is a very easy fellow to spend a week with, He is pleasant and generous with his time. He spent the day moving between each of us offering helpful hands-on tips. 

This is the twenty second year in a row that he has given this workshop at Scottsdale - quite amazing. Participants were from all across the US and three from Canada. What was really unusual and a real credit to him was that four had taken his workshop one or more times previously. 

Cathy and I hit the road tomorrow. Plan is to spend time in northern Arizona then up through Utah and hopefully get to try his approach plein air. Expect to be back in Comox for my May 3/4 Preparing for Plein Air workshop. 



  1. Your paintings are beautiful Brian. Much interest in your work at Alexander Gallery. Best of luck on your adventure. G.

  2. Great workshop review, thanks for sharing it. Your paintings are gorgeous. I, too, am a fan of Liquitex paints and avoid the fussiness of all those mediums. So happy to hear about the techniques Hook uses and teaches. How fortunate of you all to attend. Blessings.

  3. Some people really are starving Artists! and can't afford a workshop much less the travel. You being generous enuff to post the shops you take is priceless.
    Thank You. Sue
    PS LOVE your work


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