It's taken me a while to get to blogging about the workshop that I taught in Florida in early January. I'm still working on the 'Egret' painting, and have started another 24x36 Florida landscape that I'm taking progression photos of. But I need to talk about this workshop before it gets too far out.
I arrived the day before New Years Eve! On New Years Eve Maggie and Lawrence (her husband) took me to a New Year Eve party unlike anything that I've ever been too before. The home of an artist who has turned his entire property into a fantasy land of architectural assemblages that you could only understand if you saw it yourself. I'm not even going to try to explain it. Let's just say that it was "fantasylandtastic"... my word.
Maggie Kruger ( at the paint out, above ) owner of M Gallery of Fine Art hosted the workshop... and me in a "royal" way! She has three wonderful employees, Crystal(the M Gallery manager), Karen ( on the left in the pic above) and Natashia. They took care of everything other than actually painting my paintings for me. Karen was in most of the workshop herself and had some wonderful breakthrough moments in her own painting advancement. I was treated so well that I'm going back in late May for an encore... more on that in the next week or so. A little teaser... the next workshop will be a 'Plein Air to Studio' workshop. I taught this curriculum in New York last summer and it was extremely gratifying to see what developed in the class.
We all had a Great time considering the weather. During the week we experienced the longest lasting cold spell that Florida has seen... ever! Now you might think that for a Minnesotan like me that's no biggie. This Minnesotan went to "sunny" Florida with not much more than sandels, lots of short pants and T-shirts. IT WAS COLD! It was like getting sucker punched.
Despite that the crew (class) of 14 students held their interest and eagerness to learn out in front of their desire to escape into a warmer environment and diligently pushed ahead and produced A LOT of good, studious work. Once again the benefit goes to me. I get to spend five days talking as much as I want to about something that I live and love for, art... painting. On top of that the time is spent meeting and getting to know other artists who are interested in learning more about this thing that consumes our lives and takes us to places within our deepest inner selves, and outside of our comfort zone. The experience for all of us, me included, is one of joy and discovery and I cherish every single moment of the journey.
Class... you all get an 'A'.
I am going to post a lot of art here to explain the workshop philosophy. Some of the photography was done down in Florida on my little Canon Power Shot SX120 without the best lighting or time to do it properly. So I apologize for the glare and other photographic aberrations ahead of time.
I arrived in Sarasota a few days early to get to know the area a little and to paint. The painting didn't go quite as well as we had planned due to rain. But I did get one little study done and a number of artists who Maggie rounded up went to Myakka River State Park on Saturday to paint. This first painting is a little study I did very quickly between clouds and rain one of the first evenings in Sarasota. I was on Bird Key looking across the Intercoastal Waterway at the Sarasota skyline.
'Sarasota Skyline' - oil on linen - 6x8 © Marc R. Hanson '10
We had a great time and Myakka has become a favorite place of mine as you'll see. One of the very fine painters to join in on the Myakka paint out was Hodges Soileau, an extraordinary painter who's had a background as an illustrator that is to be envied. Take a look at his website to see more of his wonderful art.
The next two paintings are the ones I did at our informal 'paintout' at Myakka River State Park.
"Florida" - oil on linen-11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Will the real Florida please stand up? This was my first sight of the 'real' Florida and it was inspirational. Myakka River State Park is a 'large' chunk of 'real Florida' realestate and it's a treasure... and it's protected as Florida's second largest state park. I was taken with the warmth of the shadows in the forests. The palms added a texture to the landscape that was odd to me, but an 'odd' that I fully embraced with interest in trying to understand and paint.
"Backlit River"-oil on board-6x8 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Following my introduction in the painting above, I only had a short amount of time to paint another painting. So as the sun was getting lower I decided to try to catch that in this little painting. Drama comes to mind.
In the interest of me getting some sleep tonight, I'm not going to launch into a spiel that fully explores what happened(s) in my workshops. You'll have to come to one to find that out! :-) But I am going to try to give you an idea of what we do in an abbreviated way.
My philosophy is that I serve my students best if I teach workshops that take them back to the basics, not workshops that simply provide them with 'paintings' to take home. I would rather they go home with a pile of work that sits in the corner for a while until they're ready for it to be applicable to them and their work. If they leave exhausted, slightly overwhelmed, but questioning, I feel that I've done my job.
In light of that... I operate under the idea that to better understand COLOR, the one thing that we all seem to love about painting despite our own personal style or approach, we first need to better understand 'value' and how that relates to the color we see and use in our paintings. So I Always start out my workshops with some Black and White (VALUE) exercises. I emphasize, in this order, the importance of DRAWING, VALUE, COLOR and COMPOSITION or DESIGN before we talk about anything else.
The first exercise we did involved all of the four elements listed above, though COLOR was only involved as its' being understood as VALUE first. The students had to paint three panels that were appx. 70% dominant in one value family. A Light, Middle and Dark VALUE design was required. In my demo above you can see that due to our overcast skies, it was hard to find a very light composition. About all I could find for the 'Light' panel was the parking lot. I was stretching my guidelines but the point was illustrated. Ideas touched on were learning to design an 'image' using 'value keying' to create a mood in the paintings, and learning to categorize the elements of the design into their appropriate value families. Another important point made is 'massing' of value families in order to learn to simplify more in the designs.
The second day I used a project that is designed to take the students through the first days work, massing, identifications of value families within the composition, and design. But then we add color to the mix. This exercise first has them create a composition using no more than 3 values, a light, middle and a dark. Then halftones, dark accents and highlights are added, but the integrity of the value families has to be maintained. From there the same process is repeated in panels 3&4, as in panels 1&2, but in color.
Despite the cold, windy, Minnesota in Florida weather, we had a nocturne painting night down on the docks of the Bird Key Yacht Club. A number of us participated, in part because Maggie fed us hot soup and hors d'oeuvres before hand that warmed our internal furnaces. Pardon the glare, and the color, not too good...
"Bird Key Nocturne"-oil on linen-9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Let's just say that it was cold. This was painted looking across the water at a pretty nice house... :)... and all of it's lit up exterior. I wish that I had a good pic of this one.
The following day I gave the class a 'Memory Exercise', followed my a demo in the afternoon.
"Tiki Bar"-oil on linen-11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Truly sorry for this pic too. There was a great little bar and restaurant in the harbor area of Sarasota. I wish it would have been warmer and I'd had the time to sit there, watch the waterfront action and sip on a beverage of some kind. Still I was trying to tie together some of what we had done to this point in the class. Massing of values, color temperature, etc..
On Thursday we headed back out to Myakka River State Park and had a great day! This was the best day for everyone in the class. I wanted them to think about our work with the simplification of masses both in value and of course, in color. So their assignment was to paint small studies in about 45 minutes or so. The studies were to use as few value/color masses as possible to get their point across. We spent a fair amount of time talking about CONCEPT also. "What is it that you are here to paint?"... "What do you want to say about your subject?". I think that almost every student painted at least 4 studies in the 6" to 8" range, and some went on to paint a larger piece in the afternoon also.
"Myakka Morning"-oil on linen-6x8 © Marc R. Hanson '10
This was my demo for the morning showing the idea of massing value and color into one cohesive compositional statement.
The entertainment for the day was undoubtedly the Black Vultures. They were all over the place, along with a Limpkin and it's chicks, not to mention the Gators. I had Gator for lunch! :) Mmmm... tastes like chicken.
The next few pics are of our companions, feathered and leathered, for the day...
It was a good thing that Thursday was so nice because Friday wasn't! I barely finished my morning demo when we were called off of the island we were on by our fearless manager, Maggie. A very nasty storm was blowing in from off shore right over us and prudence dictated that we 'exit' stage right. We did that and then headed back to M Gallery of Fine Art to close out the week with a little demo on photographing art work, Q&A and farewells.
I can't thank the 'crew' at M Gallery of Fine Art enough for doing such a great job in keeping a rather 'scattered' artist/teacher better organized, fed and entertained. Can't wait for the May workshop!!!
"Lido Beach"-oil on board-8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '10
My last demo of the week... cold... windy... stormy! But we saw a pod of dolphins and the park racoons.