This location just outside of Helper, Utah was amazing with it's dramatic beauty and inspiring vistas in every direction. Usually after watching one of Doug's fabulous demos, we would scatter and find something to paint. It was seldom that any two of us chose the same spot, as there were so many interesting ones to choose from.. Utah has to be one of the most beautiful states in the union. This was my second attempt at rocks en plein air, and it felt great after the detailed value sketch was completed. The colours and paint just seemed to start flowing. oil on board 12" x 9"
I'm sure this is not what anyone was expecting to see for my first workshop post given the absolutely gorgeous landscapes that we had around us in Helper Utah. It was about 7 PM and Doug had us out doing some more plein air painting. What can I say, the man is a task master...ha! Anyway, it was another perfect evening and we were overlooking a golf course with mountains and rocks all around us, but I was sun burned and tired, (it had been 92F that day), and looking off into the distance just felt like it was going to be work. Tracy had a chair she wasn't using and I found this castoff Corona bottle just laying there calling to me. Well not really, I usually only hear them when they actually contain beer. Doug always made his rounds while we were painting, offering encouragement, valuable suggestions and the odd brushstroke here and there, if the person wanted it. On his first visit to me he looked at this and chuckled, and thought it not too bad, so on his endorsement with a few finishing touches at home, I give you Dry and Deserted. Now because most of this was done from life, I was easily able to mix fairly accurate colours to finish this painting using the photo I took as a reference. oil on board 8" x 5 1/2"
I've been away for the last couple of weeks, with the first week spent attending a truly wonderful workshop in Helper, Utah led byDoug Braithwaite, a fabulous artist, teacher and great guy. His clean, beautiful art works were what drew me to his workshop in the first place, and I tell you, I wasn't disappointed. Doug has a straight forward method of painting that is so smooth and seemingly effortless that one cannot help but try and incorporate some or all of what he demonstrates. Every stroke and every colour just seem to make sense. There were so many areas of art that he touched on, that I don't really know where to start.
Eight of us arrived at Helper, and stayed together in an old, newly renovated hotel/ art studio owned and operated by David Dornan and his wife MarilouKundmueller. The atmosphere was all about art, the camaraderie was super, and the art direction and inspiration invaluable. Doug initially spoke to us about establishing value drawings before laying in any colour, determining values and matching colours as we were seeing them. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have an accurate value drawing before adding any colour. He showed us how to prepare panels, how to mix paint and how to apply it, how shadows changed with reflected light from the sky and ground. We used a limited palette and were forced to mix our own colours, something I am now committed to. We mixed our colours with a pallet knife, not a brush as I am so fond of doing. Mixing with a brush is a sure recipe for creating muddy colours and inconsistencies. I used three times the amount of paint that I usually do, and tried to mix more than enough to do the job at hand. I can be so stingy squeezing paint, and it just isn't smart. Doug told us he reckons that only about forty percent of the paint he uses makes it onto his paintings. Utrecht Art Suppliues love him for this...ha, and I am now striving to carve this same endearing relationship with them myself.
Doug did several amazing demos, and I've posted the above photo of him next to one, including the original subject. You can see how dramatically different the photo is from the finished painting. This is where working from photos exclusively has a serious limiting effect on producing realistic colour/values. I am now a plein air convert and loving it as I try to find my way to creating more vibrant work. Using an 8" x 10" board to record colour and value is so important when going back to the studio with photo references. Now this is all stuff I'd heard or read about previously, but just didn't get.
Doug...love'ya man...and I really, REALLY mean it this time. You are the best.
I'll post something of mine later. None are really finished, and my glorious holiday is sadly over with some intense work staring me in the face starting tomorrow.
Check out Helper Workshops and get yourself down there if you are serious about your art. And by the way, two of the young guns attending the workshop are fine arts majors currently attending unniversity in Utah. I will be returning to learn from the other masters...(Doug's own art profs)...David Dornan and Paul Davis. David gave us an extraordinary demo in his studio one afternoon that absolutely broadened the horizons in my world, including glazing and process techniques that I never could have imagined. And Paul showed me more in fifteen minutes about drawing...well I need to get back and spend time with both of these very fine and extremely talented gentlemen.
A big thanks to everyone down there...I had a ball. It was so cool meeting so many artists and making some great new friends. I drove down, and Rose met me in Salt Lake City the following Saturday. We toured through Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park and saw some of the most awe inspiring places on the planet. The U.S.of A is certainly a wonderful country with a lot of wonderful people.