Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Detour into Painting

I admit, I was finally seduced into taking a painting workshop. For years, as director of the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops, I've been watching all the fun people have been having at our painting workshops. It was just too much, I had to give it a try! So I joined in the Robert Burridge workshop this past October. It was listed as workshop for "intermediate to advanced." Even though this would be my first painting workshop ever, I wasn't deterred because, as you know, attitude is everything, and as long as I was prepared to look like I totally didn't know what I was doing and just keep trying, all was going to be well. The basic theme of the workshop was to work on a series. However, each morning Bob did a quick demo and set us off with some quick painting exercises to get the creative juices flowing. The first morning, we had to create a series of paintings, working with just black and white, to the "word of the moment" that Bob gave us, like "stability" or "surrounded" or "order". He allowed us about a couple minutes per painting. The point of this exercise, besides getting our painting muscles warmed up, was to really think about what you are trying to convey in a painting. Bob said that he always picked the title of his paintings before even opening his paints. He wants to have a clear idea of the meaning / focus of what he is trying to say. IMG 1118
IMG 1120 Another morning exercise was to create "carrot" figures - with a single brush stroke, lay down a carrot shape and then top it with a oval. Then you can finesse it to look more like a person. For this exercise we were to use black and white and one other color. IMG 1123 Another exercises was to play with abstract composition styles. IMG 1128 Thorough out the workshop, Bob kept a running flow of hints, tips, techniques for reworking duds into delights. Adding color over a black and white piece was one way of adding a pop of interest. IMG 1129 I've a fascination with the flow and movement of a horse's mane, so I attempted to express this in this painting. It's not much, I admit, but it has some good bits and I expect to have to do, like a million paintings before I will be satisfied with the result! IMG 1130 A few more small exercises, the purpose of which I've forgotten. (Good thing I have all of Bob's daily handouts and I bought a couple of his workbooks for reference.) IMG 1131
IMG 1132 The apple is a reworked painting. The apple is revealed by painting over everything that doesn't look like the apple! IMG 1134 These flower vases are the same principle - paint a bunch of bright splotches over a "bad" painting and then paint over the background, covering up everything that is not going to be flowers, then add a vase. IMG 1135
IMG 1143 Reworking the horse again. It was liberating to know that you could just paint over anything you didn't like and turn it in to something else. IMG 1144 Another exercise was painting pears, learning how to create the depth, lighting, and stylistic interest. IMG 1145
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IMG 1160 When I gathered up my paintings at the end of the workshop, my general thought was that my work looked "mmehh." But after looking at the photos from start to finish as I added them to this blog post, I can see that I made some good progress during the 5 days of the workshop. From rank beginner to painting a credible floral bouquet and a pear. So now I'm very motivated to continue exploring this new medium and to also use what I'm learning painting for when I am working in my preferred medium - fabric. I can definitely see how you could use painting to play with color, composition, and value a lot faster and easier than with fabric, but how these things can then be translated into fabric. I highly recommend taking workshops in a variety of media. It gives you a whole different perspective. Now all I need is somewhere to paint! My studio is small enough without trying to make room for a painting surface and supplies, so this winter I'm working on clearing out a small storage alcove near my fiber studio to be my new painting studio. This is what I have to work with. Looks like a disaster, right? Stay tuned for updates! IMG 1371