Showing posts from October, 2010

Speed Painting a Model

Daydreaming 24 x 36
I recently hired a model to come into my studio and Alice Helwig and I painted her. We had her for 3 hours, which seems like lots, but is nowhere near enough time. 
The good thing about the time constraint, however, is that I didn't have time to think, tweak, or fuss.  I had a big, ambitious canvas in front of me and, if I wanted to make the session worthwhile, I had to fill it with enough information to be able to finish the painting after the model left.  It was speed painting!
The first thing that I did was quickly draw the basics of the pose with a thin, brownish colour.  Then I switched to a big brush (size 12) and roughly slapped on all of the darks in the composition: shadows on her skin, dark drapery, hair, lips, eye sockets, everything.  
Right about then I was cursing myself for not toning the canvas first; it would have reduced friction on the brush and would also have meant less painting for me in the long run because there wouldn't be any pesky wh…

Fabulous Flowers!

Autumn Bouquet  24 x 20"
My next workshop is something new for me: florals. Lately, and ironically, given the time of year, I've really started to enjoy painting flowers. A big bouquet allows me to paint for much longer than any other subject that I've found so far, and that's what makes it so fun. I often overwork landscapes because they seem to be done much too quickly. Just when I'm warming up and getting a handle on the subject, I've pretty much filled up the canvas and painted everything of importance. Then I get into the unimportant stuff, then I tweak a bit, and then it's sunk.
Not so with florals. I can roam over the canvas endlessly, adding bits and flourishes. It's very satisfying!  
My workshop is on November 6 at the Calgary School of Art.  If you're in Calgary, I hope you'll sign up.

Make a Painter of Yourself

This week I had an email from a former workshop student asking for my help.  She no longer lives in Calgary, but hoped that I could still be of some help as an instructor for her.  That was incredibly flattering, but I finally had to conclude that I couldn't do long-distance art teaching.  So much of teaching well is being able to accurately judge paint consistency on a student's palette, or make a mark on someone's painting to illustrate a point.  Technology will never be able to cope with these needs.  
Instead, I suggested a few things that she could do in her new town: I told her to look for local, reputable organizations for artists; in Calgary it is the Federation of Canadian Artists, the Alberta Society of Artists, the Sketch Club, and several others.  Organizations like these are a good place to look for workshops. I also advised her to scour her town for artists.  She might happen across a painter whose work touches her, and who would be willing to teach her.

As we…

Developing a Sketch

Bare Shoulders Study 12 x 9"
Bare Shoulders 20 x 16"
This painting was done from a 45 minute oil sketch that I did at the Zhaoming Wu workshop in the Spring.  The day was nearly done and I wanted to get in one more painting before the whole wonderful experience ended.
This is the first time that I have taken a rough oil painting, and used it as a reference for a finished piece.  I know it's common practice for artists to do this, but I've never felt it was right for me.  My style is a loose and spontaneous response to a subject and I've always felt that repeating it would make it stiff and lifeless.   I'm also someone who tends to prefer plein air pieces to studio work; I'm not about polish. 

But this sketch continued to hold interest for me so I thought I'd give it a go.  Mostly, I wanted to see if I could do something that was less monotonous to her shoulder and back area, and I wanted to tone down the palette.  The model had red hair and I had start…

Gold Award at Art Visions 2010!

My mom accepting the Art Visions Gold award "Digging" 30 x 30"

Yesterday was a very happy day!  I was once again awarded the Founding Patron's Gold Award at the FCA  Art Visions 2010 exhibition.  "Digging" did me proud.

Because I couldn't get a last minute flight out to Kelowna, BC, my parents accepted the prize for me, and toured the exhibition.  This year the show has grown to include a fourth gallery: Evans Fischer Gallery, along with Turtle Island Gallery, Gallery 421, and Hambleton, which is showing my piece.  The FCA even had a shuttle bus to get you from one venue to the other; a very nice feature.

My mom noticed a man examining my painting from a semi-crouched position, and peering upward.  It made her laugh because I had once told her that's how I toured the Metropolitan Museum in NY.  I'd look at a painting head on and then crouch to see the profile of the paint.  There's nothing so instructive as seeing where the paint is thick and…