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February Oil Workshop

February 14, 2011

Nygren Path, Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"

Last Saturday I conducted an oil painting workshop at The Next Picture Show in Dixon Illinois. Bonnie Kime, the executive director, asked that I center the workshop on trees and shadows. After the winter which we have had to this point, I agreed that it would be a good idea to remind folks of warmer days to come.

Driving down to Dixon was tough. As I stated, we have had a lot of snow and a lot of very cold days this winter. The weather has not been very conducive to plein air painting. It seems that when we have had relatively warm days, it has been cloudy or overcast, thus no shadows. The days that have offered bright sunshine and strong shadows have tended to be bitterly, if not dangerously, cold. I am longing to get back outdoors to paint. This day, we were anticipating temperatures in the 30’s. The morning offered clear skies and bright sun. During the ride down to Dixon, I witnessed scene after scene which offered great painting possibilities. I wanted to be out painting.

I arrived at The Next Picture Show and set up my gear. We were expecting ten to thirteen students for the workshop. We ended up with ten. They were a great group of artists and asked a lot of good questions. Really kept me on my toes. Several of the students were familiar with painting in watercolors and were trying to grasp the change to oils.

Small talk while waiting for the rest of the students to arrive.

I brought four of my plein air paintings as examples. Before the class I prepared a couple of small studies to illustrate how I advance from initial drawing through my initial block in. I used one of my plein air paintings as a model to create a demonstration painting. The demonstration moved swift and smooth. I finished the painting shortly before noon. The students broke for lunch and then spent the afternoon painting.

It was fun working with the students. The most challenging moments occurred when students voiced concerns about their paintings. Moments when their confidence waned. Initially, I encouraged them to work through the challenge. They had good starts and were just in need of a few modifications. Eventually, when I feared that they might “throw in the towel”, I had to give into my temptation and punch up the focal points of their paintings. At a point, perhaps after the first few brushstrokes, they realized that their painting was taking on a life which they thought was not there. They realized just how close they were to getting it. An “Aha” moment. These opportunities really work my skills too. Love the challenge.

The workshop ended, I packed up my gear and headed home. Quick clean up and then I took Helen out for our Valentines Day dinner and then dessert at Chocolate by Daniel.  Oh yeah, I got points for that move.

Quick painting (6" x 8") done for the students to demonstrate how to develop volume in a tree.

A little 6" x 8" study to exhibit the drawing stage of my design.

A small 6" x 8" study to exhibit the block in stage of my design.

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