Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Workshop in My Studio

Last summer I was contacted by several people in the Chinese/American community in Tampa, asking if I could do a painting workshop for some visiting Chinese people who wanted to experience things in our country, and they were keen to try out painting. I agreed without question, and during the summer I held 3 sessions in my studio for four visitors from China. Robert Chen was their driver and interpreter because only one of them spoke English, and we had to figure out how to explain art terms. During that workshop I had them paint small studies in oil paint from little still life set-ups that I gave them. (Robert Chen is the man in the dark red shirt).

Then last fall Robert contacted me again with another proposal for a painting workshop, and slowly it evolved that I would do it in my studio for about 8 people. Today it was actually 5 painters and one onlooker, but it was a great day and the photographs below show how much fun everyone had. I had decided to do a modified "paint by numbers" session and prepared the paintings in advance, setting up a painting panel and an unstretched canvas. I made them all 11x14 so a frame could be easily obtained. I decided to do acrylic paint rather than oil to help in transportation. The oil paintings didn't dry for days last summer!

Last fall I was at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, and found a Dover Publication of a coloring book of Pierre Redoute's botanical flower paintings in their gift shop. These paintings are so elegant! Redoute was affiliated with the court of Marie Antoinette and other monarchs of France. The coloring book had small thumbnail images of the colored painting, and I could blow up the line drawings to make them bigger. I selected about 8 drawings from the coloring book, and transferred them to my panels and canvas and gave each painter a small blow-up of the colored painting to follow. 

In the beginning of the workshop I had all the tubes of paint laid out and showed them how to put dabs of paint on the palettes and did a very brief demonstration of how to mix colors. Then they were on their own, taking my pencil images and filling it in with colors. None of these people had painted before! Amazing...they all had a great time and went home with a nice painting. We will be doing this workshop again week after next, so I hope to have more photos to show.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lady with a Cockatiel

Oil on Canvas       20 x 24      POR
The "Lady" is my dear friend, Carole Flagg, who at 87 is still producing a massive output of marvelous paintings. You can see some of her work on her website: 

I met Carole shortly after I moved to Florida when we both were associated with Horizon Line Gallery in Temple Terrace. She took some of my classes and we began a friendship that continues to build in mutual support and appreciation of each other's experiences and talents. Today I meet with her every Saturday afternoon for our "coaching" session. Carole wanted to learn oil painting techniques, and having been an acrylic and pastel painter for many years she wanted to add oil paint to her repertoire. She still works in acrylic and pastel, but has found wonderful success as an oil painter too.

I shot this photograph of her several years ago, when her beloved pet bird was still alive. Sadly he is not with us any more. What a character that bird was! Unable to fly and picked upon by other birds in the large cage downstairs at the residential facility she lives in, she took him to her apartment and his life was forever changed, happily so, as he had a nice place to live, plenty of good food, and a new "mother" who doted on him. He often perched on her shoulder or hand. I was so amused by him, as he would greet me with clicks of the tongue, that I could imitate back at him, and he and I had many dialogs about lots of important subjects, of interest to birds.

I used to paint lots of portraits, especially pastel head studies, but the economy and shifting tastes has changed much of that, and I found that I didn't have a market for portraits after 911 and our move to Florida. I missed the excitement and challenge of portrait painting, and so after much deliberation, I decided to add Portrait Painting With Help to the growing list of art classes I teach at Carrollwood Cultural Center. Over the summer I put together my plans for the class and started several oil paintings that I could use as demonstration pieces in my class. The class is a great success, and I'm happy to have an opportunity to move back into doing some portraits. 

Some of my art friends have said that I am a "still life painter" and I wished to change that image of myself! I enjoy painting everything. The challenge of portrait painting is greatly helped by an invention of mine that involves making overlays to find mistakes as we go along in the painting process. I spend quite a lot of time with a photograph to make it useful for portrait painting, and blow it up to the exact size of the canvas, and edit out most of the distracting background elements, and in place of them I add a background that will enhance the painting. It is a great help to be able to see what I want before I start the painting. A quick change in the photo editing program can show me a new color, or value, before I spend hours painting it. I love my computer!!!