Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Class

The class on the weekend went quite well.  We started on Vince Lombardi time, 15 minutes early.  I was hoping that the rain forecast would be wrong.  It was.  However, the sky was a silvery violet and blue grey.  Just the perfect amount of confusion for those used to painting from sunny photos.

Our location was on the grounds of a large victorian home complete with turret.  The gardens provided refuge for those avoiding the drawing associated with the house.

Motif and Setup

Some of the participants have been in my classes in the past.  Others not, and still others fairly inexperienced.  Four men and six women.  Unusual mix.

We went over the light of the day - cool, few shadows but relatively warm and the concept of a local tone painting.  Then we reviewed the classical concept of perspective and the use of the eye line/horizon line.  Vocal and silent questions.  I pointed out how it worked in garden scenes.  More queries and looks.  We finished with some strategies for plein air and a short discussion of the palette.

So, what were the typical difficulties?

Drawing, observing and measuring, edges, simplification
Shapes, observing, simplification
Values, observing
Colour, value, chroma
Timidity, "what if I make a mistake"

Here "observing" means that people tended to paint what they thought was there, not what was there by observation.  To a person, everyone had the right idea in these areas.  They found that choosing a garden scene proved quite difficult.  Three people chose the whole house.  Two chose a chunk of the house.  They all found the drawing much more complex than they had imagined.  But struggling through, most surprised themselves with their accomplishment.  These painters will all improve with more time on the brush.  The principles are there and will come along with practice and a few pointers.

Some of these painters had never heard of edges before.  My former students claimed they hadn't either.  I demonstrated a few of the uses for them.  Seemed a mystery.

Of course I learned from the participants.  The choice of composition and the use of a monochromatic painting with a few touches of colour were insightful for me.

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