Showing posts from February, 2013

Mexican Art Retreat: the Verdict

Well it's all over but the laundry.

The Casa Buena Retreat went swimmingly: the paint, conversation, and Corona flowed freely and what started as a group of individuals quickly became a close-knit team of painters and friends.  By the end we were all talking about "next year when we come back" so it looks like this is the start of a tradition.

Jane was impressive in her energy, warmth and cooking abilities.  She and fellow artist Carolyn Adams kept us well supplied with local specialities and Carolyn's famous brownies and cinnamon rolls.  The secret, apparently, is that there's no cinnamon in them.

But most impressive was the landscape and what the painters did with it.  We started the retreat slowly with a first-day, comprehensive demo of a palm tree that I painted from the veranda overlooking the sea.  Everyone tackled the same scene and we had some very lovely trees by the end of the day.

On the second day we painted under the shelter of a local restaurant …


Tonight, in the wee, small hours, I'll be on my way to the airport for the flight to Mexico and the one-week retreat that I'm teaching at Casa Buena Art Retreat.   I'm beyond excited and, of course, nervous.  I'm going to set 2 alarm clocks just to be sure. 
The week will fly by with plein air and portrait painting along with the crucial good food, good wine, and great conversation.  There's nothing better than talking art with like-minded obsessives.  
I'll be taking lots of pictures to post when I return, and to keep me going through the rest of the winter here in Calgary.  We're still a long while from seeing green out our windows.  
Wish me luck and good demos!

Marrying Competing Aesthetics

Robert Genn's blog posting really hit home with me today.  He talks about generic and specific paintings, referencing some of the great early California impressionists like Payne and Bischoff who, when they painted a tree, were painting a specific tree that they actually saw and knew something about.  On the flip side of this, is a generic tree: a stylized, simplified, or idealized version which shows what the painter thought and felt, but not exactly what he saw.  I'm paraphrasing.  His posting is worth a thorough read.
It struck me that what I wrestle with is exactly that: generic vs specific.  While a stylized tree is still my preferred form when I paint landscapes, I'm less likely to create a generic face in my figurative work.  In fact, I've become more specific over the years, trying to render the small changes of colour and plane that create a likeness, instead of stopping at the big shapes that simply depict a person of a certain age or sex.  (Can I type that w…

Go Big or Go Home

While I was in Scottsdale for the Ignatov workshop, I made sure to visit as many galleries as possible.  At the top of my list was Gallery Russia, whose website I've browsed longingly for years.  It met and exceeded all of my expectations.  The web doesn't do justice to paintings; you have to see them in life to understand their subtleties of brushwork and colour.  
While the figurative work drew me more than anything, I was also impressed by some of the still life work.  It's not something that I come across very often in Canada, but large scale still life seems to be an accepted and common form in eastern Europe.  I like it!  It has the benefit of allowing painters to work from life, while avoiding model costs.  So when I got back to Calgary, I set up this ambitions still life in the cool light of my north-facing window.  
My goal with this piece was to keep the colour subdued and meaningful and to use value to draw the eye through the painting.  I used an inverted U-sh…