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Water , Water, Everywhere – Julie Gilbert Pollard Workshop

Oil painting of reflecting water scene, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop - first try
Oil painting of reflecting water scene, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop - first try Oil painting of reflecting water scene, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop, second try
Last week I learned that water can see.  Who knew?!  That was just one of the hundreds of tips Julie Gilbert Pollard gave in her workshop in Panama City Beach, Florida, “Wet and Wild:  Painting Vibrant Water Scenes in Brilliant Color”.  This tip came on the first day, when we were working on reflections.  In other words, Julie said, “Water reflects as if you were looking at the scene from its vantage point.”  To illustrate, if a dead tree is angled out over the water sideways to the viewer, the reflection is a reverse mirror image, the same size and directly underneath the tree, in reverse angle.  But if the tree is angled towards the viewer, the tree above the water will appear shorter due to foreshortening, but the reflection will be much longer in proportion, because the water is “seeing” the tree from underneath.

So I look at reflections differently now.  I look at color and shapes differently too.  Everything is more colorful since that workshop, and I am seeing much better.  I find this is always the case after any period of immersion in art, that I see better and am more aware of colors and shapes.  One of the other participants in the workshop said that one of the few things you get better at as you age, is art.  I laughed, but I understand that statement.

We worked in the classroom, from sample photographs Julie provided which illustrated the concepts and techniques she was teaching.  She used the first four chapters of her Adventurous Oils, a Workbook Companion to Brilliant Color as well as several hand-outs.  It was a treat being taught by someone who understands how artists learn, who was able to paint and talk at the same time (no small feat, integrating both the left and right brain at the same time!), and who was able to provide constructive assistance as we worked on our various pieces.  And the participants were a happy bunch, the paint-mixing and experimentation punctuated with their softly-spoken stories to their table-mate and their laughter.  My own table-mate, Faye Gibson, owner of Meacham Howell Design, also was using oil paint;  the rest were painting with watercolor.  Since the instructor was giving demonstrations in both watercolor and in oil painting, I brought in a 6-color Walmart watercolor set and made a watercolor painting and then painted an oil painting the second day when we were studying waves, shown at left.  The watercolor painting was snatched up by a good friend of mine as soon as I posted it on Facebook.

Watercolor painting of wave, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop

Oil painting of wave, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop

Oil painting of a cascading waterfall, painted with palette knife, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshopThe third day we studied cascading water.  Julie teaches cascading water as if it were a gathered skirt of a wedding dress, with the initial drop being the waist and flowing skirt, followed by a ruffle of white where it splashes down on the pond below, with a “train of lace” surrounding the splash on the flat pond.  I painted my first palette knife painting that day.  Clean-up is much easier at the end of a knife painting — all you have to clean is the knife!

The fourth and fifth days we were supposed to finish the paintings we had started the first 3 days, but I had already finished mine and painted a second one each day too.  Plein air painting has made me pretty quick.  So the fourth day I cut a few flowers off the crepe myrtle bush in the parking lot, and put them in a pitcher of water on my desk, thinking I would learn to paint the pitcher full of water.  But the flowers fascinated me, so I painted them primarily, with only a suggestion of the pitcher underneath.  Our technique for the day was negative painting, where you paint the negative space surrounding the form.  My efforts taught me the techniques, but made the painting very twiggy, so the following day I painted out most of the twigs and branches, and it became flowers again.

Oil painting of a wave, painted with bright colors as a value study of color, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop

Photograph of bright color painting, de-saturated to show values of pure colors

On the final day, the technique assignment was to paint a scene in pure color, using colors straight out of the tube, or pre-mixed, using colors for their inherent light-dark values instead of as color.  I again painted with a palette knife, using the wave photos for reference.  Anywhere there were dark values in the painting, I used ultramarine blue, violet, and reds, and cobalt green, lavender, and orange for the middle values, and orange and yellow for the lighter values, with white for the froth.  The idea was that if you took away the color, the painting would read correctly as a black-white-gray value study.  So I took a photograph of my painting, and then de-saturated it to remove the color, and was pleasantly surprised that indeed, it looks “right” as a value study.

To top off the workshop, there was a drawing for one of the instructor’s paintings, and I won it!  Icing on the cake!

Photo by Helen Balance, Beach Art Group Joan Vienot with Julie Gilbert Pollard
Photo by Helen Ballance, Beach Art Group
Incomplete oil painting in progress, crepe myrtle, negative painting assignment, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop Oil painting of crepe myrtle flowers, in Julie Gilbert Pollard workshop

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Painting Under The Gun

Oil painting of two apples

Oil painting of two applesThe mission of the A+Art Committee of the Cultural Arts Alliance is to showcase members’ work at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  I co-chair the A+Art Committee with Robin Wiesneth.  Our next exhibit will be titled “One Size Fits All”.  We have purchased 10? x 10? x 1.5? cradled wood panels, and we will sell them to members at the bargain price of 2 for $10.  Members then may use any media to make 2 works of art which then will be offered for sale at the exhibit, each piece selling for $100.

Within our community, a group of women artists, most of them members of the Cultural Arts Alliance, meet once a month for potluck dinner and Show-and-Tell, where they each are allotted 5 minutes to talk about two pieces of their art.  The creativity is astounding, everything from traditional paintings to book creation, to doll-making, to sculpture, weaving, and this past Monday, artist Nancy Williams even brought her art car, Nippy Thelma!  I bought a few cradled wood panels in advance of our large order for A+Art, and offered them to a few members of the A+Art Committee to see if we could present them at Show-and-Tell as samples for the exhibit.  I took two of the panels, and primed and under-painted them in preparation for a couple of sweet sunset scenes, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to paint two apples.  By last minute, I mean literally, under the gun, the Sunday afternoon before the Monday of the potluck dinner meeting.

Oil painting of an apple and a half

I had fun and success with the first panel, and sent a picture of it to my best friend / budding artist Leslie Kolovich, to entice her to come to my studio and try her hand at oil painting, while I painted the second panel.  She pretty well floored herself with her results, painting a nectarine, and her photo of it has gotten 68 “likes” on her Facebook page!  I myself am thrilled!  It is so rare to “teach” someone who “gets it” the first time you show them a technique, who can immediately translate it into their own expression.  Below right, “Nectarine”, her first oil painting, by Leslie Kolovich!

Oil painting of nectarine by Leslie Kolovich
Nectarine, by Leslie Kolovich

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Plein Air Under The Picnic Shelter

Oil painting of Western Lake and the Umbrella Trees, at Grayton Beach State Park
Oil painting of Western Lake and the Umbrella Trees, at Grayton Beach State Park Oil painting of Western Lake looking towards 30A, at Grayton Beach State Park


It’s a rainy day in Florida today.  For being the Sunshine State, we certainly have had our share of rain this year, at least in Northwest Florida, where I live.  Our plein air painters group was scheduled to paint at Grayton Beach State Park today.  With 100% chance of rain, and with it already 100-percenting since the wee hours of the morning, accompanied by flash-flood warnings, it is not surprising that only two of us showed up.  I was first to arrive, choosing a pavilion where I could see the distinctive stand of trees across the lake, that everyone here knows as the Umbrella Trees.  The rain had slowed to barely a sprinkle and some little woods rats were squirreling around in the wildflowers beside the pavilion.  I would see something move out of the corner of my eye, and then if I kept looking, I would see the second one follow the first.  They were completely camouflaged when they were still.

Soon after fellow plein air artist Ed Nickerson joined me, the bottom fell out of the sky again.  Colors in the distance muted to grays, and the foreground colors intensified by contrast.  We both had time to paint two small paintings before the mist of heavy raindrops bouncing off the tin roof and blowing onto us chilled me to the bone. I headed over to Grayt Grounds for a cup of good coffee before running an errand and returning to my studio.

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