This fall I am investing my time in cultivating my community’s appreciation for plein air painting, as well as promoting my own work. Many people in my community have never heard of plein air painting, so that is taking extra effort. My local arts association, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, is very supportive. The CAA will be adding a plein air paint-out to our existing Flutterby Festival at Watersound Origins here in Santa Rosa beach, FL, in November. I will be teaching a one-day workshop the day before the festival, the lesson being effective shape-making to start a plein air painting in a way that will offer a high likelihood of success.
Art marketers say that 20% of your time as an artist should be spent on marketing. I am spending more than 20% of my art energy right now, but I expect it to level off. I actually had intended for last year, my third year of plein air painting, to be my marketing year. The transition and adjustment after selling my pool service business took more time than I had anticipated.
Last year I took my first workshop in plein air painting. I had been painting weekly with the local plein air group for about 14 months when I took that first workshop with Morgan Samuel Price. But I found each day of this year’s workshop even more challenging than last year. According to Morgan, that is the painter’s life. She says that a plein air painter just keeps finding more and more challenges. The more experienced they get, the harder the challenges they find for themselves. Sigh, I thought this was supposed to get easier!
What an amazing group of artists in this year’s workshop! Lynn Wilson, Carol Drost Lopez, Becky Anderson, Charlotte Hope, Nancy Smith Crombie, Patricia Irish Richter, Brenda Anderson, Sherry WetheringtonA, Mary Wain-Ellison, Glenda Coleman, Karen Snider, David M. Jones, and I: thirteen of us. One of the best parts about the workshop was the critique session held each day at the end of the day. We would line up our efforts, even if it was just a few brushstrokes, and Morgan would discuss each and every painting, directing her comments to that artist but for the benefit of us all. This was addition to her amazing morning teaching and demo sessions, and our afternoon practicing painting en plein air, all making for a superb workshop for beginner and advanced painter alike. Blessed with infinite patience and superb focus, Morgan is able to work despite the constant distractions of the excited artists milling and buzzing around her, cameras clicking next to her ear. Below are a few shots of her working. You can click on any of the images to see a larger view.
I had confidence to be away from my pool service business. I had worked long hours the weekend before the workshop, to clear my desk, plus I have a fantastic crew in the field and a wonderful office staff. On Wednesday my staff decided to show me what was happening there in the office, with a series of photos that even Tamra’s store helpers (her two dogs) had a part in. Here’s the worst one, Tamra Thomas, Margaret Bush, and Brenda Osborne. Clearly they do not have enough work to do.
The city and area around Apalachicola is such a scenic place, with the historic buildings, working waterfront with shrimp boats galore, oystermen, grottos and lagoons — it is heaven for painters. The home of Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, you often can find an artist or photographer at work.
Below are some of my works from the workshop with Morgan Samuel Price. Daily critiques were at a set time. Work had to be halted then if we wanted to hear what Morgan had to say about our progress. Click the photo for a larger image.
On the last day I was captivated by a thistle in bloom, so after I finished my landscape, I captured the pink of the flower by using a tint of color I had not ever used before, quinacridone magenta, which turned out to be perfect for painting thistles and I believe also should make painting azaleas easy. I am finding I generally prefer to mix my colors instead of using specialty pre-mixed tubes, but in this case I was very pleased with the chroma.
I shot the photo below using my iPhone.
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See the next post for the weekly paintings done just before and after this workshop.
I ventured into new territory today, taking a workshop on encaustic painting at Studio b. The closest I had come to encaustic painting was when I was a child, melting crayons and drizzling the molten wax onto paper. I don’t remember very much about my childhood experience, but I’m sure that what I loved most about it was playing with the candle. Today we traded the candle for a blowtorch, which was infinitely more exciting!
First we used a paintbrush to put hot bees’ wax onto the board to make a background, applying multiple layers, scraping each layer smooth. Then we added pigment to the wax and brushed colors on, building up textures, carving into the wax, cutting and scratching into it, stenciling, stamping, embossing, adding collage, and even writing into the wax to create powerful, colorful 12″ x 12″ encaustic paintings.
Instructor Rae Broyles demonstrated many different ways to work the wax, and then she worked alongside us on a painting of her own. We were surrounded by some of Rae’s recent work on the walls at Studio b.
With every medium, there is a craftsmanship that must be mastered before one can be freely expressive, but we all had a lot of fun trying, and we were all pretty successful, I think. Part of it of course was Rae’s excellent instruction, but part too was her relaxed, and even playful, attitude. After all, creativity often is playfulness.
I pressed a plant into the soft wax and then filled the embossing with colors, layering additional cover layers, so that some parts are in sharp focus and others appear to be further away. I tried to put a fish in it, and he disappeared, and I decided I didn’t have enough control to put a small scuba diver in the background, which was my other idea for an underwater scene. So it ended up being a picture of some kind of flowering plant.
For my second piece I wanted to experiment with a figure, and I used the general pose that we had at figure drawing last week, dividing the background with simple geometric shapes. I tried making lines with a hot drawing tool, but that didn’t work very well, so I carved lines using a clay sculpting tool, and then filled the lines in with black wax, scraping off the excess.
Will I do more encaustic work? Maybe so. It’s fun, it forces me to accept looser, less-controlled expression, and all I would need to buy, that I don’t already have, is an electric flat grill-pan to heat the wax in aluminum bread-tins. (Oh, and I would need that neat trigger starter for the blowtorch, that was pretty cool.)