Ok, so the point of this trip was to learn some new skills in painting, not just to enjoy the fabulous food and the excellent company coupled with wonderful sights. So what am I learning? Oh my, I am learning that perhaps I do not have the temperament to proceed in watercolor. I am a "fiddler," a tinker, and a tweaker. I like to piddle around with the paint and play until I can, as one tutor used to say, "let the magic happen." Direct painting? So not me.
Kelly was asked to demo a plein air oil today (which is also "direct painting") so we gathered around, eager students, to observe and take notes.
She set up smack dab in the rocky driveway and, flanked by the olive groves and the chickens, painted a landscape in just a couple hours. On top of that she talked and answered questions while painting. We had gorgeous blue skies which got all of us excited about being outdoors.
I took a few notes as she painted to remind myself of some important stuff:
Think of clouds as boxes, in front of you or above you, you will see their planes that way...
Greens: ask yourself comparative questions, two greens beside each other: is this one more blue? More yellow? Cooler? Warmer? Darker? Lighter....They are all relative to each other..
Get down the biggest shapes first, and their relationship to each other, color and tone, go back to fill in the few details you may need later (finishing the detailed window only to find you must move it over is a waste of time) also, this way you can decide which details are important to the overall image.
Kelly paints with as many as six brushes in her hand, see here? They are close to the same size but the reason is a very practical one: if white paint (or a mixture containing white) gets mixed into the darkest darks then, in her words, "it's all over, kapoot, finished." She keeps one brush strictly for her darks, one for the lights and then at least two for the middle tones. When painting quickly this cuts down on wasting time doing a thorough cleaning of the brush with Terps between colors. Very practical advice.
We then adjourned to paint in the lovely weather and I had numerous failures...failures in the sense of painting a "keeper." Not failures on the route to discovering what works. So while I have not reached the destination, nor am even certain of the destination I want to reach, the route is proving most interesting. I worked a while on landscapes and kept choosing compositions way too complicated and detailed; getting tangled up left me in happy with the results. So as the rains began to fall I opted for an "interior" scene where I could at least paint a recognizable couch.
And tomorrow, our last day of painting, I vow to choose a simple landscape scene to render. Maybe I can find a bush or two next to a road and depoct some large shapes with conviction. At least I will have fun trying...and I might even learn a thing or two en route.
Hope your journey today is filled with delightful surprises,