My most recent painting is a complete departure from my usual landscapes. Titled “The Lion and the Lioness” it is a portrait, well two portraits really, of my step-daughter Liza who is returning today from a 5 week trip to Namibia Africa (and her lion friend). Four of those weeks she spent working at an amazing animal rescue and rehabilitation center, where she fed and cared for lions, cheetahs, merkats, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, and a very long list of other animals big and small.
I wanted to give this amazing person something to always have of this amazing experience she had (not that she could ever forget.) So I thought why not pair these two magnificent beasts, the king of the jungle and queen of the mall :-), and do a portrait of the two of them, their beautiful manes mingling and representing the joining of two cultures, two creatures, two souls. Africa stole her heart but we are glad to have her home.
Last Saturday I attended a 4 hour workshop by artist Aline Ordman a really wonderful landscape painter (website here) and we were instructed to bring something to paint (photos mostly, since we were confined indoors due to weather). So I took my most recent painting, Waitsfield Farm, because I was not fully satisfied with how it turned out. My hope was to re-paint the same landscape with what I hoped to learn and see if it came out better/
Aline gave a 1-hour demo in which she painted a quick landscape and provided commentary on what she was doing and why. Here is the painting she completed (in oils) in just 1 hour
Here is what I learned from her, before I get to my own efforts:
Follow the 4 “S”s. Squint, Simplify, Stand Back, Stop.
Squint to see your value shapes and big color areas.
Simplify your subject to only what is necessary.
Stand back, often. Keep stepping back to look at your work in progress. You need that moment to see it in new light and take a breather.
Stop. Know when you are done! Don’t keep tinkering. (I wrote a blog post about this some time ago).
Her approach to putting paint on the canvas is: 1-stroke, reload. 1-stroke, reload. Repeat. This way she keeps her colors clean, wiping her brush not necessarily after every stroke but very often.
Use a BIG brush and put down BIG swaths of color. She teaches that if you want to loosen up and get more freedom in your brush strokes, you need to use your biggest brushes. Start with big swaths of color, no need for a lot of color variation as you start, that can be added later, but get that canvas covered using a big brush so you can’t be tempted to get picky with detail. Continue reading “The Value of Workshops”