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.