Monday, June 14, 2010

An Education

12 x 16

An Education

I went to a Zhaoming Wu workshop in Edmonton this weekend at Pros Art School.  It was a fantastic experience.  Artist and school owner, Gene Prokov does a very nice job with weekend workshops, right down to the elegantly-presented, home-cooked food that we are served for lunch. 
On Friday evening there was a wine and hors d'oevres meet and greet, followed by a 3 hour demo by Zhaoming.  What impressed me was the absolute focus with which he moved the piece steadily to completion.  There was never a moment when he seemed uncertain about which direction to take in the painting, and it progressed cleanly and clearly from the first sketch of the model to the final, sumptuous painting.  That's experience!
On Saturday, we broke into two groups, each with a draped model, and spent the day trying to recreate the precision painting that we'd seen the night before.  Not as effortless as it looked! 
I backtracked, waffled, fudged and fiddled the day away.  It took an hour to make a 2 inch section of shoulder turn in a believable way, with all of the planes cleanly rendered, softened where they needed, and sharp where they needed.  In the end, with Zhaoming's help, I found my way and got an adequate result, but it lacked strength and assurance. 
I spent the evening reviewing the steps from Zhaoming's demo, and plotting a more successful approach for the next day. 
Sunday, after (too much) coffee and a fortifying breakfast, I launched into the second painting.  My focus was on the steps, and on the brushwork.  Z. uses very precise, crisp, synthetic flats, and the distinctive marks that they leave are important to his style.  I'd brought a few flats but most were bristle, and they leave a more open, broken mark.  I used these only for the underpainting, and switched to my few synthetics for the upper layers, concentrating on crisp marks.  The model breaks were a great opportunity to plan a comprehensive brush buying trip when I returned to Calgary. 
The painting above is the result of Sunday's work.  It went more quickly and didn't wander.  At least, not much. 
What I liked about the workshop was that I learned something new, but don't feel like I need to renovate my own style completely.  The lessons that I received comprised a deepening of my knowledge and skills, and showed me how progress from my current level to a higher one.  An absolutely worthwhile experience!


tami hort said...

That sounds like such a fantastic workshop and your art work here is stunning, Tami

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks Tami! The workshop was wonderful. I highly recommend the art school.