In conjunction with my workshop on at the Arts of Great Falls Gallery September 25 – 27 I have an exhibition of work “Favorite Subjects” of 17 of my paintings September 2- 27. The work being shown includes all of my painting interests. The genres on display are 5 imaginative pieces, 4 still life paintings, 4 landscapes 3 architectural pieces and 1 figurative painting. The sizes range from 8 x 10 to 30 x 40. On September 12 at noon I will start and finish a painting alla prima. The demo will be roughly three hours and is open to the public.
I just finished up a studio painting workshop here in Virginia. These are the 1 hour demos I did each day. Demos are a great visual tool to convey the information I discuss with students during class. When I started teaching one of the rules I made for myself was to train myself to demo every day in a reasonable amount of time so students still have plenty of time to work on their own problem solving during the class. Each class is different sometimes the class is an outdoor painting class and sometimes it is focused on studio painting. Each of those situations have their own set of challenges.
When I was taking lots of classes I found it frustrating that some teachers could not or would not demo in class so I made sure I did when I started teaching workshops. I also didn’t like teachers who showed up with a finished painting in class and pretended to paint on it for students. I believe working from blank canvas to finish on a painting for students is one of the best tools a teacher has for conveying the art process.
In each demo I focus on a different aspect of problem solving using my approach to the subject. These are always geared towards the students interest and so the demos vary greatly from workshop to workshop. In this instance the things people were most interested in were forest interiors, water and trees without any foliage on them.
Every Spring I make a point of painting the bluebells when they come out and bloom. They never last more than a few days once they peak and so depending on the weather you can miss them completely if you don’t check on them. I know every April I need to make a trip to my bluebell spots and see what kind of a year it will be.
This year they weren’t as thick as in years past but they were still good enough to paint. I set up at my favorite spot at the Manassas Battlefield, the path along the stone Bridge at Bull Run.
The afternoon light is my favorite for this spot because I’m looking into the sun and everything is backlit on a sunny day. I found a place not too far off the trail and got to work.
The first thing I did was to establish the tree line.
Next I blocked in a medium tone for the bare trees in the distance.
Then I blocked in the ground plain keying it to my tree color.
Now using the scene I design the trunks of the trees in my middle and foreground. I want to vary their placement angle and individual widths so they aren’t too static.
I move to the background again and start designing my sky holes in the background tree color already on the board. Once I have that in I carefully move forward in the picture plane marking key elements like the color of the bushes in the understory and the trail through the flowers.
With my big shapes locked in I start modelling the areas building a sense of light and form to the individual elements without obliterating my groundwork for the structure of the painting.
I spend the last 45 minutes unifying the whole picture adding details where it enhances the mood simplifying areas that distract from the feel.
The finished painting, ‘Battlefield Bluebells,’ 12 x 16, oil on board. The total working time was 2 hours from start to finish.
One of my favorite times of the year is finally here. Spring is slowly taking hold again which means it’s time for bluebells. They only last a few days in early spring so if you live in Virginia get out and see them while you can. Today was a beautiful day with temps in the 70’s. I went to one of my favorite bluebell spots The bridge at Bull Run in the Manassas Battlefield. This year did not disappoint.
I set up and decided to try a 16 x 20 canvas. A little large for the angle of the light and subject but it’s good to push yourself in the field.
After deciding on my subject I started to draw the landmarks with a big brush.
Next, I quickly blocked in the large flat poster shapes for my background middle and foreground locking in the lights and shadows for the image.
Working all over the canvas I started to pick out important details and add them to the mix.
I established my darks and strengthened my color in the places I thought it needed more emphasis.
I weave in colors to give the impression of branches and leaves and refine more of my shapes.
I continue to refine shapes color and edges.
The finished painting Bull Run Spring 16 x 20 oil. Total painting time 3 hours.
Between 6 to 9 pm, I will start and finish a larger painting from a small sketch at the gallery as part of their First Friday Gallery Events in Old Town Leesburg. The address is:
The Cooley Gallery
9 North King Street
There is no charge for this event.
This will be the small sketch from which I will be painting.