Friday, September 05, 2008

More on En Plein Air Masters Workshop in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, NB, Canada.

Things have been kind of crazy here in the South watching these hurricanes pile up and trying to decide what level of preparedness is appropriate. As I write this tropical storm Hanna is passing through. Everyone in my family gets a little stressed and short-tempered until all is secured. Welcome to September in South Carolina. I am also preparing to head back to teaching at SCAD this fall after a summer of painting. I am looking forward to it as teaching keeps me learning and looking at things in new ways.

I must reiterate how incredibly beautiful the town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea is as well as the surrounding area. It was the perfect place for a plein air workshop.

After years of pouring over Kevin Macpherson's books and enjoying his work I am delighted to have finally had the opportunity to take a workshop from him.

I liked that he had us all paint a scene first in the morning without demonstrating in order to see where everyone was at. He then gave a critique which he does well, spending appropriate time with each person's work. In the afternoon he painted a demonstration and I have included some of the photos in this post.

The scene for the demonstration painting by Kevin.

He emphasized seeing the lights and darks initially. He carefully placed them in his painting. He is very thoughtful at this stage and really looking to see, simplify and place the most important darks. The scene was somewhat backlit in the mid-afternoon. He tries to paint "what the air feels like" and not just what he sees in order to capture a true sense of both time and place.

Laying the the darks. Note he is wearing gloves.

I am a convert.

He made use of the three values of portland grays(light medium and dark) along with a limited palette of alizarin crimson, cad red light, cad yellow light, ultramarine blue, and pthaylo green.(It was my first time working with the grays and I liked how it expanded the the colors in subtle ways.) As he painted his demonstration in continued to place strokes and color notes. He does this in a very knowing manner it seemed to me.

He laid in the sky with a solid value of portland gray light. As he painted the painting I wondered how he would resolve the sky. I thought just the color he had it looked pretty good. Then almost at the end he brushed in some very pale subtle yellow from the horizon line up into the sky and slightly blued the upper sky. It changed everything in a stunning way! The feeling of the light was there. Then he slightly warmed the value of the roof on the building in the distance and the whole painting came together.

The finished painting.

My quick camera shot does not begin to do justice to it.

I think everyone got a lot more out of the demo having done their own paintings first and been frustrated in some cases. So the timing of his demo was well placed.

I have concluded that art books are helpful but there is nothing like learning by watching an accomplished painter paint and having him or her watch you paint and give you feedback.

As I said in an earlier post, I found Kevin to be an excellent teacher. He has an incredible eye. He is sharing and funny. I highly recommend him. By the way, En Plein Air Masters are heading to Greece next fall.


Pat said...

Thank you for sharing these photos. Really instructional. Does he thin the Portland grays? If not, do they dry very quickly to enable him to lay down more layers of color? Also, why the gloves? Thanks.

Linda Warner Constantino said...

He only uses turpenoid or gamsol, no mediums. He uses the portland grays made by Gamblin full strength. He uses the thick over thin philosophyin regard to laying down paint. The grays are not washes but just a thinner layer of paint. He puts down thicker juicy brushstrokes as he goes along. There is no drying in between.

The grays are good for desaturating color or laying in some value initially. I think they also help you judge intensity. You can tell how intense a color is or needs to be when a gray is next to it.
You can also build your initial painting with the grays to establish a proper value range.

By the way Ivory Black was one of the colors on our supply list but I never used it and I did not see him use it, though I know he sometimes does. He suggested doing a painting replacing blue with black to see how it affects the painting. I think the great painter Joaquin Sorolla often used black in this manner.

I have been told by older artists for years to wear gloves and I keep saying next time I will. An artist like Kevin is in paint all the time. Repeated exposure cannot be good. It is a health and safety precaution. The cadmium colors are especially toxic and those are the ones I seem to get all over me first thing!!!

I thought the purple gloves were kind of stylish:)

I hope I answered you questions if not feel free to contact me again.


Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Hi, Linda! Thanks so much for the detailed description of Kevin at work. It's good to see how he does it.

I DO like the purple gloves! And what a nice painting - he really captures the sense of the Canadian Maritimes.

FCP said...

Thanks for sharing these photos, Linda. I agree that the yellow he added in the horizon at the end really gave a sense of light.
Thanks for sharing,

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks for sharing Linda - great post!

I'll definitely be including this post in my Sunday 'who's made a mark this week' on the 14th.