Sunday, June 27, 2010

Doug Braithwaite Workshop

I've been away for the last couple of weeks, with the first week spent attending a truly wonderful workshop in Helper, Utah led by Doug 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 Marilou Kundmueller. 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.'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.


  1. Thanks for such a wonderful post, Vern. Your enthusiasm is marvelous. Can't wait to see your work.

  2. Sounds like you had a fabulous time learning and also seeing Utah. Doug's work is beautiful. Lucky you !!! can't wait to see how it influences your work.

  3. Thank you for the detailed post about your workshop with Doug, it sounds really wonderful! I'm glad for you that you were able to spend some time feeding your soul, connecting with other artists, and enjoying some of the beautiful Utah landscape with Rose.

  4. It must have been a great workshop, a wonderful painter and nice guy. Nice work you have here.

  5. Sounds like you had an absolutely fantastic time, Vern. Looking forward to seeing where your art leads you.

  6. Vern - I'm flattered and honored with your report of the workshop. It was a great group of students and I'm really looking forward to seeing your finished paintings!

  7. Hey Vern, You fortunate canine...(otherwise known as "lucky dog"). Doug sounds like a super instructor. I checked his blog, and love his work!

  8. I have been watching Doug's blog and I envy your experience with him. His paintings are wonderful. I'll be watching this blog to see the work that came out of your experience with him.

    Next year is my last teaching and I am going to take a workshop with him if he will have me.