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Showing posts from October, 2010

Speed Painting a Model

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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!

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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

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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

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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!

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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…