Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Plein Air in Milwaukie

I love painting in oil when I'm plein air painting. But I'm just not that confident about it. But I really want to get better at it and dig deeper. That's one of the many things I took away from the IAPS convention; digging deeper. What can I do as a painter to deepen my painting practice? How can I not just get better, but dig deeper?

With the start of summer, I'm loving being outdoors and taking in the light, the breeze the feel of the sun on my skin. What could be better than being outdoors and painting? It's amazing. But, in the past I've found myself doing all the things I spend lots of time telling my students not to do; not planning the composition, niggling around in one area, not massing together shapes, mixing the wrong values etc., etc. Why does that happen when I get outdoors? And what can I do to change those tendencies?

First, I went and watched someone who knows what they are doing! I watched Eric Jacobsen, www.jacobsenstudio.com do two demos. What an amazing painter he is! And a super nice guy. He has a way of capturing the essence of the moment without being totally bound to exactly what is in front of him. Right up my alley! I loved it.

Eric at George Rogers Park doing his demo

Eric at Luscher Farm

 A number of things among the many that I took away:

1. Mass shapes in the light together. Mass shapes in shadow together.
2. Paint with the biggest brushes you have first as you are blocking in.
3. Use the whole brush and paint with your wrist and arm, not your fingers
4. Get enough paint on the tip of the brush, not into the ferrule.
5. Move around the whole piece.
6. Be willing to sacrifice all the way to the finish.

I also felt like Eric gave me permission to paint like I paint in plein air. I suppose that I'd unconsciously taken some notions about plein air with me into my painting. Dumb! Since watching his demos, I've spent lots of time painting with some duds (that's o.k.) and some progress. Most of all, I'm really enjoying being outdoors, taking in the air, the light and being connected to the landscape.

I've been painting at Milwaukie Riverfront Park which is walking distance from my house. Milwaukie is a bit of a sleeper when it comes to nature. When you think of painting spots in the Portland area, I'll bet Milwaukie doesn't exactly pop right to mind. But right here we have a newly redesigned waterfront and Elk Rock Island, a gem that is somewhat forgotten and neglected. Hopefully with light rail opening in early September, our neck of the woods will get a little more attention!

What I like about the pieces I've done, is I feel they begin to capture a bit of the quality of light. I didn't get too absorbed in the details. I wanted to say the very most with the least. I wanted to make deliberate and gestural strokes, rather than tentative, wimpy ones! I'm a long way from where I'd like to be in oil, but my mantra has always been to paint, paint, paint. So I'm sure that taking my own advice here will yield good results.

Watching Eric's demo was a great reminder to me, that sometimes it's helpful and maybe even transformative, to watch someone else do it! I know this from hearing from my own students, but feeling it myself was wonderful. Eric is a wonderful teacher and runs a great workshop which I highly recommend. Thank you, Eric!!

Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Milwaukie Riverrfront Park
Sketch in with alizarin crimson and burnt umber
And now for the shameless self promotion part of my blog! Be sure to check out my new website, landscapepaintinglessons.com! My Loosen Up Intensive workshop is now available as a download, or DVD. You can subscribe to my mini-lessons and updates on the site. Much more is coming soon. I have plans for a live online workshop, a beginners only section and weekly lessons. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reflecting on the IAPS Convention

There is really too much to say about my week in Albuquerque. I suppose I could write a whole book about it, to be honest. There were months of preparation leading up to it, for my business and the work I did volunteering for the organization. There was my mom, who came with me and the people at home who I missed. There were the artists that I came to know a bit and the small interactions with ones I wish I'd spent more time with. There were a indelible moments and crazy frustrating ones. 
There were tender moments and big audious ones. There was the beauty and warmth of the New Mexico landscape and the fragrant flowers that adorned the hotel grounds. So much happened! Moments of love, joy and bliss. There were also moments that weren't so grand, but they don't really stick out too much. They were out-shined.
Joe Baker and I after the buffet on Thursday evening.

Albert and Jeanine making some moves!

On a break during my demo
I was honored to have Albert stop in on my demo!

Alain Picard's and crew
Mine and crew
Tony Allain and crew
Terri Ford and crew
Stan Sperlack and crew

A highlight was the Paint Around. Being a part of the kick-off event of the convention along with Tony Allain, Stan Sperlack, Terri Ford and Alain Picard was certainly an honor and a blast! We were all a little nervous waiting to go on stage in the hot kitchen. Stan, ever the showman, teased the audience by ordering five shots of (iced tea) that we toasted before we began. As soon as the pastels were in our hands, we were fine! We each brought our own reference and had 10 minutes to start with our own piece. We then moved to our left and were supposed to have ten minutes on each artist's piece, but our group was comprised of five very fast painters and I was later told that each  time we moved they actually reduced the time so by the time we got back to our own piece they gave us only about 6 minutes to finish! Wow!

Later that evening I managed to get Albert Handell out on the dance floor! I won't forget that soon!
Meeting such pastel luminaries and getting to know them as more than names and paintings was a real joy.

My presentations were fun, allowing me to connect with folks and share my experiences as an artist is very rich for me. Spending time with my mom and sharing a bit of my work with her is great. I think she enjoyed herself. She explored a bit of the Albuquerque book scene on her own while I was attending to my volunteer duties.

I woke each day and made my way to outside to drink in the blue, blue sky and the quiet before everyone started bustling. I needed just a few moments alone to gather my thoughts. I was usually greeted by either Mack the facilities volunteer or Joe who was helping out on every conceivable front or Susan who was Liz's right hand person. These folks were wonderful to work with and never lost the smiles on their faces!

Spending time with so many people that are excited about pastel and it's potential made me want to come home and dig a little deeper in to the medium that I consider "home". 

I hope I get to attend the next convention in 2017!