Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Winter Gang

Every winter, for a number of years, a group of painter friends have gotten together here in Woodstock to paint throughout the cold and snowy months of January, February and March. 

It's a good time and it helps us to keep painting outside through the long winter. I love painting snow, but I admit that it is difficult sometimes to get out there when the forecast is talking about really cold temps. But when you get together with a group, you are all in it together for the day and it brings an element of fun to the challenge. 

We do things right. First we meet for a big breakfast and some good conversation before we paint. Sometimes on a particularly cold morning, when you are sitting there by a roaring wood stove eating eggs and gulping down a hot coffee, you look outside at the shriveled landscape and ask yourself what the heck you're doing there. Then you look around at all your friends, some of whom have driven almost two hours to paint with the group, and the idea of getting out there seems to feel a little better. The breakfast time helps prepare everybody and the conversation topics are always interesting and there are always a lot of laughs.

We usually start on the first Saturday after the new year and make it a point to get together every weekend until March 20th, which is the first day of spring. This year we decided to start early, before the snow flies as they say. We also changed the painting day to Sunday as it works out better for everybody. There is no snow in the forecast yet, but autumn is still giving us some hints of her beautiful color and the November skies are filled with fast moving, ever changing cloud formations. They are a real delight to the human spirit and at no other time of year in New England will the clouds push their way through the skies and call so much attention to themselves.

Today's weather was cold and then warm and then back to cold. It kept this up for most of the day until mid afternoon when the sky turned dark and a big breeze picked up indicating that some rain was imminent. We knew it was coming but some of us couldn't put the brushes down until it suddenly opened up and poured. Here are some images from the first couple of painting days. I promise to put down the brushes once and awhile and get more shots of actual paintings in the future. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Here and There.

Life moves fast. Faster than I can keep up with it seems, but that's what I hear from everyone I talk to these days regardless of what they do for a living. I just feel blessed to be doing what I love and look forward to everyday as another chance to live life painting landscapes both indoors and out and teaching my classes and workshops.

Recently Pam and I were part of the Rye Art Center's ' Painters On Location' event. We've participated before and love the event. The idea is simple. We drive to Rye New York, get our canvases stamped and get out there to find our place to paint for the day. There is some great subject matter in the area and this time, Pam painted on one side of a marsh, while I painted on the opposite side. It was fun and both our paintings sold well at the auction that evening and I sold my silent auction piece at the very end of the night! It was a bit of last minute drama that made for a lot of fun.

From there we taught a three day workshop for the Maritime Gallery at the Mystic Seaport in Mystic CT. How can we not have fun painting the boats and harbor at the seaport?! Its an awesome place and we were impressed with how students took the lessons showed to them through my demo and tackled their paintings with new confidence. The rain held off during class too which is always appreciated!! We always look forward to teaching there.

This past weekend, we taught another workshop in Connecticut at a farm in Hampton. Gluck Farm is one of those bucolic farms that is the perfect example of a New England farm. Over the course of the three days, our students were immersed in several changes of New England weather and treated to numerous visits by sheep, horses and two large oxen.

We should be teaching in Wayne PA for the Wayne Art Center next but they cancelled the two day workshop because we only had 4 students signed up. It would have been a great workshop having to do with painting various lighting conditions. It's a workshop that we've taught at various art centers and associations  as full workshops and students have raved about it. Oh well. Pam and I will enjoy a bit of down time instead. In the meantime, here are some images to look at.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Morning Blues (and Oranges)

Today is Monday and that means, my weekly painting class at 10. I blocked in this painting last week for my students and today I painted on the block in as my morning demo.

I am using a very simple orange red & blue green complimentary palette and showed them how to get a sense of a full range of color using this simple palette. I decided that the orange red would be dominant in this painting. That's an important decision to make.

I mixed a few rows of color, colorful greys and neutrals and showed them how to key the painting towards the orange red family. Before I painted, I was sure to oil out the block in since it had totally dried.

Here are some images of the palette and the painting including a few close ups. This was a 45 minute demo.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Color Ideas in Kennebunkport & Online Mentoring

Recently, Pam and I taught a three day workshop in Kennebunkport Maine to a great group of painters. We really enjoy teaching these private workshops. It was an intense three days and the group accomplished a lot. It was also a nice intimate setting and just about perfect weather for plein air. I've posted some images from the workshop at the end of the post.

We focused on the use of my palette, working with complimentary color ideas. The lesson makes use of the palette as a color wheel simplifying both color and value. Some painters have a difficult time juggling color, while some struggle with value. Sometimes, the idea that both color and value have to work together in  painting complicates the painting process to the point that they freeze up or they keep dipping their brush into piles of paint and applying it to their canvas, in hopes that something magical will  happen on it's own or by accident.

My workshop will help you understand how to simplify both color and value. While it's true that everyone possesses their own natural color sense and that the goal is to arrive at a point where painting becomes a somewhat intuitive process, everyone has to first learn and become comfortable with some real basics. My method starts out with a simple underpainting  which is an arrangement of light, middle and dark value shapes that all relate to one another in a logical way and creates a pleasing pattern. By starting out with just value and not the final color, many students make improvements immediately.I have recently made this workshop available as an online mentoring class, "Complimentary Color Palettes"

Color is painted on top of this underpainting in the same three values. In this way the painter doesn't break up their pattern of lights and darks. Lighter value and darker values can be stated later as the painting gets further along, but first we just want to keep our value plan. There's a saying in painting; 'no pattern, no painting' and if there was ever one big truth about painting, this one is it. I have students use a simple complimentary color palette for this workshop so that color doesn't get out of hand. It starts to teach them the poetry behind the use of a simple palette and how they can achieve a harmony in their paintings that many paintings lack because the artist tried to use every tubed color in the book. It's all about keeping things in reserve; the reserve of both value and color.

Anyone interested in this online mentoring class can purchase and download it from my website, It is available as a private study on your own or with me as a four week mentoring class. I know you are all busy and I've tried to design a course that can be done anywhere at a time that is convenient for you.  The four weeks will start when you are ready to download and the four weeks can be taken over a period of time that works for you. While it is recommended to be four consecutive weeks, it doesn't have to be followed in that manner.

My hope is that this will help some painters who are struggling out there. I am confident that I can help you with your painting. Overtime, I will be adding more online classes to this series for a total of 6 individual courses. The next one will be about  color triads. I will be taking my color ideas a little further, showing you how to work with specific color triads to show you another way to bring color harmony to your paintings.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Moonlight Makes Me Feel Alright.

I've been thoroughly enjoying my studio time as of late. I enjoy teaching weekly classes and see some real growth in all my students. Last fall I started an apprentice/ mentoring program and my four students enrolled in this are making great strides. We've been working a lot with color and values, working with complimentary color palettes and different triad palettes. Now we are working on capturing specific types of lighting conditions. Any time a painter begins a painting, he or she is painting the effect of light. It's important to understand how each effect has its own set of value ranges. Sunlight has it's own range of values and side light differs from back light which differs from a front lit situation etc. Sometimes it is fun to try to capture the idea of moonlight. My students were asking me about it and so we spent some time looking at Frederick Remington and a Philadelphia painter, George Stotter. Honestly, I have attempted these types of paintings on location and I have learned from it, but I think the best paintings of night come from memory or a combination of memory and good old inventiveness. This painting is an interpretation of the harbor in Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard at night. It's of a place seen and remembered and then imagined.