Monday, August 8, 2011

Time Is Flying, Must Be Having Fun

Posted by Maggie

I was amazed to notice how long it has been since I posted the last blog. Time has flown by faster than ever this year.

I spent much of the spring getting ready for the IAPS convention. This is such a wonderful event, and the 2011 convention was bigger and better than ever, with more instructors, classes, workshops, and of course, attendees. It occupied most of my waking hours for months and then —poof! It was over. It reminded me of Thanksgiving dinner. You know, you shop and plan and cook for days, and then everyone descends upon the table and suddenly it's all gone!

But it's fun looking back at the convention, and I just posted some great photos on the IAPS web site. Check them out.

After recovering from the convention, I taught a workshop in Santa Fe in July, and then at the end of the month, Bill and I both participated in a plein air paint-out in Ouray, Colorado. The "Paint Out on Main Street" is part of their annual Artist's Alpine Holiday. We chose a painting location just off Main, on the bridge over the river, each of us looking in a different direction. We had fun with the 90-minute painting session, and then to my surprise, my painting received the first place award!

Left, Uncompahgre River Bank, 9x12, ©Maggie Price 2011.
Below left, Untitled, 8x10, ©Bill Canright 2011.

We spent a couple of days in Ouray after the paint-out so that I could do demonstrations for the art association, and we enjoyed the high mountains and the village.

Now I'm working on my teaching schedule for 2012. I'm excited to announce several great workshops are lined up already—in New York City, Oregon, Florida, and France. Details about all these are on my web site, and more will be added later, so check back now and then.

And yes, we are having fun!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Class Demo: Animas River painting

Posted by Maggie

Yesterday was the first day of a six-week Saturday class that I'm teaching at the New Mexico Art League in Albuquerque. In my classes and workshops, I focus on one technique or subject each day. I like to start the session with my favorite (and easiest) underpainting technique, which is to block in the subject loosely and then wash it with Turpenoid. Depending on the subject, I may exaggerate or change the colors, and I often use slightly darker values for the middle- and darkest-value areas, knowing I can lighten them on the next pass of color.

There are many benefits of underpainting, and I begin over half of my pastel paintings with one of the underpainting techniques. In this painting, the underpainting stage allowed me to solidify the compositional changes I was making from my photo reference, and to lay in a good foundation of values and temperature along with hue. Because this was a class demonstration, I was focused on explaining what I was doing as I worked, and forgot to photograph the progression as frequently as I might have if I had been in the studio. The first photo shows the painting after the underpainting was turped and dried, and after I went back in to do some re-drawing with my soft vine charcoal. At this stage, I was pleased with the composition, initial value structure, and the relationship of warm and cool from the background to the foreground water. However, I could see that I would need to make some changes in the colors and temperatures of the rock formations in order to make them read correctly as to position in background or foreground.

As the painting progressed, I concentrated on establishing local color throughout, and on painting the water with its churning wave action in the middle-ground, and the two fall formations. I didn't worry about the background rocks and foliage in this stage, as I knew I would want to imply more than state their forms in order to make them recede. As I painted the foreground water, I worked on the dark and middle values, avoiding any highlights or light values in this middle stage. When I paint moving water, I like to try to feel the movement of the water with my hand, so as to describe the motion more clearly. In the foreground, the warm color of the water is influenced by the color of the reddish rocks beneath the surface, while the deeper churning water in the middle ground is more clearly the silty-gray-green color of the water. Shadows of objects on the land mass in the top left affect the color as well.

In the final stages, I directed my attention to the focal point rocks. As I developed them, I realized that the bluish cast of color on the rock in front of the focal-point rock needed to relate to it more in color and temperature, and the rocks on the right also needed color and temperature adjustments. The dark shadowed crack on the second rock on the right bothered me, so I muted it to help that rock sit behind the other. Once I had the foreground and middle ground well established, I loosely blocked in and adjusted the background, keeping it muted to recede. Finally, I worked over the entire painting, adjusting edges and values. Above left, Animas River, 16x20 pastel, ©Maggie Price (on white Richeson Premium Pastel Surface, applies to gatorfoam).

Now that I am back home, the painting is sitting in my studio where I can glance at it now and then, and watch for flaws or problems that catch my eye. I'll leave it there for a week or two before I decide that it's truly finished. I've already spotted a couple of adjustments I need to make to the water in the foreground, so I'm definitely not pronouncing it done yet!

Class demos don't always turn into paintings worth finishing or keeping—after all, the purpose of a demo is to demonstrate techniques and give information to my students, not necessarily to complete a painting. I'm very pleased with this one as a demo, though, and I think with a little careful attention, it will be worth being framed.

If you're interested in learning more about underpainting techniques, check out my two new DVDs, each of which deals with a different approach to underpainting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Old & New Technology: Color Charts on the iPhone

Posted by Maggie

As followers of this blog may recall, while I'm primarily a pastel artist, I have been working in oils again, off and on, for a couple of years. I'm quite enjoying them, and feel I'm making progress in becoming reacquainted with the medium after years away from it.

I'm going to be working with a limited palette while away on a plein air painting trip in the near future. To refresh my memory, and clarify my understanding of how these selected colors interact, I spent some time making color charts. It's a tedious, but pleasurable, task, and I always enjoy seeing the surprises when two colors combine to make a new color that's not quite what I expected.

Once this task was done, I began thinking about how to use them. I'd like them close at hand when I'm painting outdoors, but at the same time, I want to keep my set-up as small and lightweight as possible. And I had a momentary vision of trying to flip through the color chart with one hand while mixing colors with the other, no doubt in a high wind.

I needed some way to make the charts smaller and easier to access. (Click! Light bulb overhead!)  I decided to see if they'd work on my iPhone.

Yesterday, I tested the idea. I photographed one chart, resized the image in Photoshop, and then loaded it onto the phone. Amazingly, it worked quite well. The colors are pretty accurate (okay, not 100%, but certainly in the 90s), and when I enlarged the images on the screen of the iPhone, I could even see the grain of the canvas.

Today, I set up better lighting and photographed all the charts. It took about half an hour to photograph them, download to the computer, resize them, and then load them onto the iPhone. They look great! I can flip through them easily, find the color I am looking for, and enlarge to see the handwritten notes as to the colors used.

I still might put the originals in my bag, but I bet I won't use them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Workshops Past and Future

Posted by Maggie

Bill and I have just spent some time going through photos of our previous trips to Scotland and Spain to share with people who might be interested in joining us in one of our upcoming workshops.

Foreign workshops are different than ones at home for many reasons beyond the obvious travel to another country. They are a delightful combination of sightseeing and painting instruction, learning the light and lay of the land we're visiting, and enjoying the company of other artists for days on end. The pace of painting is more relaxed than in our indoor U.S. workshops, as we combine painting with sketching photography, and just experiencing where we are.

I love both these locations, Scotland and Spain. We've been to one or both countries to teach workshops almost every year for quite a few years, and yet we're eager to return. For a quick preview of the workshop experience, or just a vicarious visit, read on:

Memories of Scotland

Here are some photos from previous trips and workshops. Some of the fishing villages and coastal scenes are near or among the places we'll go in 2011. We have the minimum number of people needed to confirm this workshop will go forward, but there's still room for more.

Scotland workshop: Anstruther, Kingdom of Fife, August 27-September 7, 2011

We'll base at the Craw's Nest Hotel in Anstruther, one of the beautiful Royal Burghs in the East Neuk of fife. From there, we'll explore the beautiful rugged scenery of the Fife coastline. We'll paint on the grounds and in the gardens of Kellie Castle, in the villages of Pittenweem and Crail, and in the Botanical Gardens at St. Andrews. For a full itinerary, download the pdf brochure. An added bonus: this workshop is sponsored by Jack Richeson & Co., and all your supplies (including pastels, surfaces, easel, carrying bag—everything you could need down to baby wipes and paper towels) are shipped to the hotel for you and back to your home afterwards.

Highlights from Spain

We've taught five workshops based in the tiny village of Juzcar (pronounced Hooth-car), Spain. The village is in the Genal Valley, nestled in the mountains of Andalucia in southern Spain. The hotel is charmingly rustic in appearance but modern in comfort and convenience, and our Cordon-Bleu chef amazes us daily with the wonderful meals. Last year Bill and I visited Sevilla prior to our workshop, to determine if it was a good location to add as a day trip (it was!), and were enchanted by the town and particularly the buildings and garden of the Alcazar Palace, home to the King of Spain. We included photos of Sevilla in this collection from previous years:

Spain workshop: Juzcar, Malaga Province, Spain, October 8-17, 2011

We'll return once more to Hotel Bandolero in Juzcar, one of the pueblos blancos of the Genal Valley. We'll visit other villages in the valley, and take trips as well to Ronda, to paint the famous bridge from a perfect vantage point below, and to explore the town as well. A day in Sevilla, as well as day trips to Zahara and Olvera, both outside the valley, will round out the experience. And let's not forget the flamenco! An evening performance will give the painters dozens of photographs for future paintings. While this hotel is very small and the group size is limited, we still have room for a few more. Download the pdf flyer for complete information.

Spain or Scotland? We are so lucky, we get to go to both places, and I'm sure we'll enjoy the company of some great artists and make new friends in both workshops.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Same Subject, Two Mediums

Posted by Bill

Before digital photography took over from film I had a lot of experience with darkroom work, product, architectural and and advertising stuff. I knew all about depth of field, ISO etc. These days I am happy to let my little Canon digital do all the thinking. Just point, zoom and click.

Except for family gatherings, all my photography is done with future paintings in mind. Sometimes I am thoroughly underwhelmed by available scenery, but will go ahead and shoot some anyway. Later I'll start cropping the photos and find things I really want to paint. And then, there are exceptional places like the beach at Bandon, Oregon. Our last visit was on a cloudy day, but I shot dozens of frames because the rocks, ocean and atmospheric effects were really exciting.

One of my favorite scenes is shown in the photo at the top of this blog,  which I have now painted twice with  different approaches. You'll notice that everything in the photo except the sky is almost monochrome black and grey. The first version is an 11x14" on white Richeson Gatorboard with a solid orange underpainting on the bottom third and a medium value ultramarine blue on the top two thirds. I used Ludwig pastels and Turpenoid for the underpainting. I let a lot of the blue show through on the rocks as I added subsequent layers, achieving the rather cold effect that I remember feeling when I was there in the wind. The orange sand added some needed contrast.
Above, Bandon Sands, 11x14 pastel, ©Bill Canright

My next version involved a faux plein air approach where I put the photo at a distance from the easel and worked in acrylic on a 5x7" canvas board. I didn't do any preliminary sketching, just painted "bravura" with three brushes. I strengthened the blue and added enough brown to the rocks to achieve a more sunlit effect.
Left, Bandon Sands II, 5x7 acrylic, ©Bill Canright

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Three Out of Four Isn't Bad

Posted by Maggie

It's January 4 and I've just finished my third small oil of the new year. My resolve/hope/goal was to paint one a day, but already I can see that is going to be difficult. Maybe as the month goes on I can find time to create two on some days and thus catch up. But three paintings out of four days is okay.

These are small—the one I posted on January 2 was 4x6, as is one of these and the third one is 6x6. But I'm enjoying the small format. When I work in pastel, I like to work on large pieces, most of the time, though I do work in smaller formats when I'm outdoors. But these little oils are fun, so far. I don't like to get into a rut, though, so I'll probably try different sizes later on.

This one is actually my New Year's day painting. I had to let it dry so I could add some more warm colors in the foreground and on the sunlit side of the trees. This subject is one I've done on location in pastel. It's on the Ghost Ranch property, not far off the highway, and when I did the plein air piece (and took the photo) I was standing in front of the log cabin. I've probably taken several dozen photos of this mesa over the years, and painted it more than once. This is the first painting of the subject done in oils. Ghost Ranch Mesa, 4x6, oil on panel, © Maggie Price.

Today's painting is a corner of a building we see on our usual walk. We are lucky to have a trailhead that begins just across the street a little to the south, and the trail goes on for about 4-5 miles. If the weather permits (that means no precipitation, and not terribly hot or cold) we walk it most days, going at least 2-3 miles round trip. We also see this mountain range, the Sandias, from our front yard. I watch the mountain every day, and sometimes I think I should just paint it every day and see how many different paintings I could make of the same subject. But for today's painting, the mountain is the background, and the subject is the afternoon light hitting the corner of the adobe and the foliage in front of it.  Adobe Glow, 6x6, oil on panel, © Maggie Price. I made a couple of small revisions after photographing it, and as always, may make further changes on either of these after they "rest" for a while.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Paint More

Posted by Maggie

I have had the same goal, or made the same resolution, every year for so many years I can't remember when I started. It's a simple goal: paint more. But it can be very hard to meet, as I struggle to also meet other goals related to teaching, writing, etc. (Exercise more is always on the list, too, but I'm not going to discuss that one right now.)

This year my goal has a dual focus: paint more in pastel, but also paint more in oils. I started my painting career (or perhaps obsession is a better word) as an oil painter. Once I began working in pastels, I focused on that medium for nearly 20 years. Then I started dabbling in oils again. You can see some of my first completed oils on my Artblog page on my web site.

Now I'm determined to move past dabbling. I'm inspired by people who produce an oil painting every day, or almost every day, and I'm going to work at that. I'm also interested in working small, since I hope to get out to paint some plein air oils, and those are usually—for me, anyway—fairly small.

My first painting of 2011, mostly completed on New Year's Day, has been set aside to dry so I can glaze an area. So you may not see it for a few days yet.

Here's today's piece. It's 4"x6",  and done almost all in one session.  Left, Incoming Tide, oil on prepared board, ©Maggie Price.  I really enjoyed painting this one. Maybe it's the subject—I lived near this particular beach for some years, and loved it, and visit it every chance I get. Actually, any time I get near any beach, I take every opportunity to study waves and how the water moves.

Maybe it was just serendipity that the painting was fun and went well. But I'm going to believe it's a good omen for the New Year and for meeting my goal.