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Kathie Odom Plein Air Workshop, Seaside Institute

Group shot, workshop attendees 5-29
Back row: Beth Loscondo, Marian Pacsuta, instructor Kathie Odom, Denise Kevany, Patricia Hagan. Front Row: Bob Weir and Joan Vienot. Photo by Buddy Odom.

Last week was my last hurrah before my summer season in my day-job as owner of a pool service business in a resort area of vacation-rentals and second homes. Sigh, I am paying for it this week, burning the midnight oil making up for the time I invested in painting last week. But I do not for one minute regret it, because it is always such a joy to paint with like-minded enthusiasts. At the end of the workshop we took a group photo, and I asked Bob if I could hold his hand. His excitement was such an inspiration to the group, having started plein air painting only recently in his 80-year life.

Our workshop was sponsored by the Seaside Institute, in Seaside, FL, facilitated by Casey Johnston. Our biggest challenge was finding parking during that week of Memorial Day. The institute brought Kathie Odom in from Tennessee to lead our workshop. Kathie shows her paintings at Redbird Gallery in Seaside.

Kathie underpaints her plein air paintings with a wash of yellow ochre, viridian green, and transparent iron oxide (a rust color). If not fully mixed, the wash will be more of one color than another in any given area. She doesn’t necessarily cover the entire canvas, instead usually making some sort of a off-center starburst pattern. Then she takes a paper towel and rubs off the juiciness, so the wash is relatively dry. She uses a dark brownish mixture similar to raw umber to paint-draw the scene she has chosen onto the canvas, and she uses a cotton swab dipped in solvent to lift off the areas that she wants nearly white, the recently applied color wash coming off fairly cleanly. From that point, she proceeds on to the unexplainable magic of plein air painting, applying darks first and lights afterwards. At the end she randomly applies extra twigs and flicks of color which help create the what she calls “vibration of color”.

Oil painting of Great Southern Restaurant, in Seaside, FL, painted en plein airIn every workshop I take, it seems like there is a bottleneck in my brain between what I’ve just heard the instructor say, and what I am able to do with my hand when I paint. It guess it takes a while for new information to get from the left brain to the right side. The bright yellow-green umbrellas of the Great Southern Cafe caught my eye from the amphitheater stage where we were set up behind the Seaside Post Office. JV watching Kathie demo 5-26Challenged by the lower part of the scene being hidden by the parked cars of Memorial Day vacationers, I dashed in a few shadows to break up the foreground, and returned the before class the next morning to finish up. I decided to leave the foreground as it was, and just sharpened up a few details and called it done. Buddy shot a photo of me concentrating on Kathie’s demonstration.

Oil painting of the beach foliage and beach umbrellas along the gulf-front at Seaside, FL, painted en plein airThe next day’s scene was our view from a pavilion overlooking the beach in front of the Shrimp Shack there at Seaside. Working with the greenish-yellow wash behind my sky was not as disconcerting as I thought it would be. I’ve used washes before, using transparent iron oxide alone or mixed with ultramarine blue, and also I’ve used cerulean blue for my drawings, sometimes washing some areas. But usually I’ve toned my canvas with an acrylic wash so that it is completely dry before I start oil painting. That has allowed me to scrape off color to expose the wash, but Kathie’s technique of washing with oil paint permits lifting off color to expose the white canvas, or scraping it to expose the wash, which to me is the best of both worlds.

We painted upstairs at the Seaside Assembly Hall that afternoon, thankfully indoors while a fantastic lightning storm blew through the town. Kathie taught techniques that she uses. Below are two classroom exercises from two afternoons that week.

Oil painting of rustic cabin in front of mountains, technique exercise painted in Kathie Odom workshop, May, 2015 Oil painting from a photo in Kathie Odom's workshop May, 2015
Red Bird gallery 5-27
Photo by Buddy Odom

My pool service business did not slow down just because I was taking this workshop, so one afternoon I hardly painted at all, spending most of the allotted time on the phone, managing a difficult relationship between a property owner, his friend who was responsible for the property, and the contractor repairing a pool heater with wires chewed by rats. It is nearly impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t seen it, how hard it is to figure out which wires the rats may have just chomped on, out of the spaghetti of wires inside an appliance.

I met the owner of Redbird Gallery in Seaside that afternoon, and we talked for a bit. Tricia shows some of Kathie’s works there. I chose that gallery to paint but barely got the paint-drawing done. Buddy got a good shot of my easel.

On Thursday we painted in Grayton Beach State Park. I decided to paint on a larger size canvas, 12×24, more than 3 times bigger than my usual 8×10. I spent almost the entire time mixing more paint, since my practice with smaller paintings was to mix just a little. A small mixture doesn’t go very far when painting a bigger painting! I went back to the park at 6:30 the next morning to finish my painting, thinking the park opened at sunrise, only to find that it doesn’t open until 8:00. Below is my unfinished painting of the scene from the parking lot near the nature trail.

JV painting at GBSP 5-28
Photo by Buddy Odom

Grayton Beach State Park 0528
Unfinished:  Western Lake from Grayton Beach State Park

Frustrated, I started driving back to Seaside on Scenic Highway 30A and stopped at the bridge where I painted the view of Western Lake from the roadside. This view of the “umbrella trees” is probably the most photographed scene in all of South Walton County, where the slash pines bordering the backside of the lake form an umbrella. It perfectly fits the 12×24 canvas I used. I will be making limited edition prints of this painting, some on stretched canvas. Message me if you are interested.

Oil painting of the slash pines forming the iconic "umbrella trees' of Western Lake at Grayton Beach, FL, painted en plein air
Umbrella Trees at Western Lake, 12×24. Limited edition prints available on stretched canvas.

 

 

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Figure Drawing at ArtsQuest 2012

One of the premiere art events in Northwest Florida is ArtsQuest, the fine art and music festival held every Mother’s Day weekend.  This year it includes 130 international visual artists of all genres.   While the artists sit in their booths, musicians perform in the open-air amphitheater, and demonstration areas give attendees opportunity to see art being produced and perhaps even try their hand at something they may or may not have ever tried before.

I am privileged to sit on the Board of Directors of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County which produces the festival.  The festival requires the assistance of many volunteers, and Directors are not exempt.  So I volunteered to demonstrate figure drawing for two hours yesterday afternoon.  Two of the other demonstrating artists joined me, plein air painter Lynette Miesen sketching the model, and Sue Carol Knight Woodley painting.  Sue Carol had demonstrated and coached people with portrait painting for the previous two hours, and Lynette was actively plein air painting in front of the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters booth.  Margaret Rogers demonstrated weaving in the booth across from us, displaying many of her gorgeous completed weavings.  We were in the courtyard next to the world-famous Bud and Alley’s Restaurant in Seaside, Florida.

The model, Beth Roth, is a professional model, and I asked her to time us so that I could concentrate on drawing.  It makes a difference to me whether I am timing the pose or not, as to my level of concentration.  When I am in charge of the timer, I find myself doing a little clock-watching, which inhibits the free-flowing abandon I find most conducive to expression.   We were under a white tent, and although there were shadows, there was so much light that when I tried to heighten the contrast with a floodlight, I couldn’t tell the difference when I turned it on, so I gave up on that idea.

I encouraged a few passers-by to try their hand at it.  One was a professional artist visiting for the festival, and he said that he goes to figure drawing sessions every month or two, because the practice improves his other work.  Another had a lot of fun sketching, and she asked for one of my 10-minute sketches, above left.  When I gave it to her, she insisted on paying something, so I asked her to put a tip in the kitty for the model, which she was happy to do.

I had a few pre-game jitters but once we got going, I settled in and was hardly aware of the spectators talking and looking over my shoulder as I drew.  I did notice the change in pitch as people explained to their children what was going on, and I was thrilled that kids were there.  I think it is important to take children to creative venues and to encourage them to make the arts a part of their everyday life.

I know that I would benefit from more portrait study.  Neither of the two drawings below do justice to the model’s beauty and serenity, but distortions and all, I count them as successful.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

 

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