28 October 2007

Workshop . Day Two.

So we arrived with NO homework done to speak off. I mean, we are all so damn busy during the week. But everybody had made little improvements to their setup: a new gesso'ed canvas here, some new colors there...
We did a gray-scale drawing with three values. It as amazing to see that such a simple exercise would simplify the scene a big deal and become a road map for the painting. My usual mistakes: punching contrasts too much, over-detailing of areas that are not the foucs of interest, etc...became apparent in 5 minutes. I am enthusiastic about this technique and shall exercise it often.
We painted our hearts out while Jennifer hovered around giving pointers that mostly dealt with the true observation of color. The scene had little contrast due to the gloomy day but that made the work even more of a challenge. Jennifer made some color corrections as I painted. I tend to automatically blend the backdrop of mountains with the sky color. Not this time. I tend to eliminate warmth from the sky the same way children paint all tree trunks brown. Not this time. Jennifer's notes were dead on. Note to self: Observation has no shortcuts. Nature will be obeyed. I loved the result and I a glad I organized this workshop.

22 October 2007

The workshop. Part deux.

The workshop tested our endurance of heat as the Santa Ana weather created really hot conditions in the middle of October. But we all soldiered along as Jennifer laid her big dark shapes first. She doesn't fuss with color, she observes , mixes a clean batch and applies with accurate eye leaving the lighter areas and thin calligraphic details for the end. There is very little on-canvas blending or scrubbing. McChristian is a sharp-shooter and the queen of economy as far as the amount of paint or meddling with the paints. A good brush stroke is worth more than a thousand smudges.

The workshop

We finally gathered for the Jennifer Mc Christian workshop at the Verdant Equestrian Center in Atwater. Jennifer was a little nervous. She is a novice in this "teaching" business after all. But she did a great job at laying out her techniques and materials. We are an eclectic group at very different levels of experience and that was a concern . However, there was something for everyone. Jennifer has a technique that she has refined by studying other artists (like Kevin Mc Phearson et al. ) and accommodating it for herself.
She uses canvas that she gessoed and sanded herself taped to the surface of her Guerrilla pochade box. We used color "isolators" and viewfinders and some red gel whatchamathingie to understand value. jennifer demoe's how to do a value study as a roadmap for the whole painting. Strong design stands out even form afar.

09 October 2007

The lesson of nature

The main breakthrough while I was in San Luis Obispo was the fact that I understood that the nature outside is not the only important subject in a painting. Most painters understand color and composition but the really good ones understand that the painting is a natural ecosystem in itself. Color and matter and texture help us recreate the natural world outside by acting as themselves, not being forced and overworked. Watercolor needs to flow like watercolor and oil needs to behave like oil. pounding the materials only makes them dull and lifeless.

08 October 2007

San Luis Obispo was fantastic.

I will try to condense my S.L.O. experience in three or four posts because there was so much to love during the plein-air week I haven't slept for the last two nights just reminiscing.
First: The landscape is painters' heaven: majestic barns, statuesque cows, glowing vineyards, solemn eucalyptus, plunging cliffs, derelict tractors and mystic marshes... heaven. Second: The event organizers were simply the best and they worked so hard at making it all run smoothly I can't still fathom how they did it. Third: The other painters were in*credible. They managed to complete at least 6 paintings in 4 days with stunning results in quality and sales. I am so humbled by the experience and so pumped. Fourth: The sales were awesome ...but enought about that. And finally, a special word of thanks goes to my immensely gracious hostess Mary Cardoza. She has a zest and a sparkle and a compassion most twenty-somethings would and should envy.
A word a gratitude here for Wendy at the Art Center for her generosity and to Kevin Mc Gavin from "Just Looking" gallery for his interest and for saving my framing skills in a pinch.

Love, Jose