What I Learned on My Vacation

There might not have been any lying around on beaches, sipping iced beverages and reading trashy novels but it was a great vacation. As you’ve seen, I spent the week with two other painters and an instructor Tony Conner from Vermont, learning about watercolor while painting scenes found in the Berkshires. This was a class offered through IS183, and if you’re looking to explore a new medium or go deeper in one you know, I highly recommend their offerings.

So what came of the five days spent with paint and a teacher. As with all media most of the work happens between your head and the paper but the process definitely gets a push if there’s a good teacher and you’re open to listening and trying and being open to doing things a different way, at least for the class. Tony is a very good teacher and able to explain the concepts and look at what I was doing to make concrete suggestions on how to proceed or what to try next time. At the end of our time each day we’d have a gentle critique, looking at the work we’d done that day and saying what we liked, where we’d struggled and what might have gone better. On the last day I put all my pieces on the grass and you really could see a progression – a small one – but the one I had worked on.

It’s easy to hear “oh that’s great! that’s beautiful!” when you show your work but it’s not always getting to what you had wanted in the end. That’s why we keep working and trying to learn, do more practice, watch more videos, read more etc etc. So at the end of the week, I could honestly say that I’m at the beginning of learning more about setting myself up to paint a scene – drawing, putting in the light and shadow areas down in washes and planning out and getting in the dark areas etc etc.

What else? As if that wasn’t enough? I already knew I like to paint outdoors. I’ve not always been a very outdoorsy sort of person and lately the whole tick thing really gets to me. This gets me outside, in the sun, soaking up the world and focusing on the beauty of it. Can’t beat that.

As I said Friday, I don’t want my paintings to look like photographs – I have a camera for that. I want to show more about what it was like to be there and let the viewer do some of the work of feeling it.

I used more paint in the five days than I could believe! I learned how to mix greens and only dipped a little into my normal greens that I carry. I learned how to mix real darks. I learned I really like real sable brushes. oh oh…

More to come!

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Sunday – Paint, Words and Dad

I got up and out this morning. Forgot about people heading out to brunch for Dad. Bad news: had to wait quite awhile for food (ordered to go because the place was 100% packed). Good news: by the time my food came, on a plate, there were open tables. So it all worked out ok.

Thought I’d do a quick check on the blue herons and stayed to do a painting. Before I’d started on the scene, a father and child showed up, and stayed just long enough for a couple fishing casts and then they were gone again. Made me think about all the happy (and long boring) time spent in our boats fishing over the years. Millions of shiners caught individually by Dad, early in the morning. His time on the lake which let him spend more pleasant time on the lake, catching bigger fish.

This was my bigger painting:

and calling it complete. I was pretty happy with it and hope to do more “less detailed” or looser paintings this week.

I had a couple other visitors too

Sorting Through the Paint Bag

Tonight I sorted through the paint bag that lives in the car. I was trying to make a lighter bag, because you know it’s hard to haul all that stuff up hills etc. I was a little amazed (and embarrassed) to find out that I had 20+ tubes of paint in there. I took a side trip to the APP store and found an app that lets me scan barcodes and add it to an inventory sort of list. Sorta cool, a little flakey, but learning curve.

This is the current state of my little travel palette.

Your basics: Sepia, Burnt Sienna, Hooker’s Green, Green Gold, Cobalt Blue, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, Quinacridone Red (I think), Mayan Yellow.

I usually have a little indigo or paynes gray on the side, along with some light red. Right now there’s some yellow ochre. Go figure.

New though, I signed up for a week-long plein air watercolor class from IS183 in June. How exciting!

Saturday Night and a Landscape

I’m hoping that 90’s in May isn’t a foreshadowing of the summer. Since it’s cooler downstairs I thought I’d try a little painting. I’m waiting for this to dry before going on.

Friday night, Painting…

And defrosting the freezer.

I honestly did set out to do the exercise which was to fill a half sheet with quickly indicated people carrying umbrellas. They carried umbrellas. I got carried away. I had to be careful since I hadn’t masked any lights. All in all a productive evening.

Mask. Paint. Unmask. More Paint.

I’ve done a little more throwing around of paint. Had a nice conversation with the young woman at Arlene’s today wherein I laughed at the idea that I was buying a rubber cement pickup-eraser when for years when I did layout work, the result of using rubber cement to stick **gasp** pieces of paper to other pieces of paper with **gasp** rubber cement was globs of rolled up rubber cement which we affectionately called “boogers”. But it’s been many years since I used enough rubber cement to make an effective booger so there I was laying out a few dollars to get a nice square hunk of dried rubber cement.

She thought that story was pretty amusing but when I allowed as that was way before her time she told me she’d gotten a WTF reaction from someone herself recently by allowing that once upon a time, she’d used **gasp** slides to document work for entry in shows. O.M.G.

In any case, paint on paper is what I’m telling you about. Click here for Flickr album with detail photos.

Lights in darkness

First pass of masking to keep areas white/unpainted, adding some glowyness around them and then flooding with various dark colors. Now will have to wait awhile.