It finally feels like autumn around here. Chilly weather and wanderlust. I want to GO somewhere! Italy sounds great right about now, but no can do. Parental duties take priorities. When my son was little we could just pull him out of school and go on a trip sometimes, but now that he's in the eighth grade we can't do that sort of thing any more. And my daughter is three and a half - not an easy age for travel.
So I've finished and mailed off twenty some-odd paintings to Anne Loucks Gallery in Chicago. They should be up on the walls by now. If you're in the area, please stop by and check them out. I've made some progress on my landscape chops this summer, and this series of paintings hopefully show this. May be not. But humor me, will you?
I am currently working on several commissioned paintings. They are coming along really great - I am very happy with them so far. I will post them here after they're finished, delivered, and OK'd.
Figure painting class continues. Although mine is not a sequential class, it's been really great working with a group of dedicated artists. Sometimes we get discouraged because it's so damn hard, but sticking with it will always bring us the next victory, the next high. Teaching this stuff makes me a better painter too, because I have to articulate the concepts, which means they have to be clear in my head. I can't just push paint around "and see what happens". If you ask me, once a week is not nearly enough but hey, we take what we can get.
This week, I begin my six-part, in-studio class; Landscape Painting; The Essential Concepts. You see, as we head into the winter months, it becomes very difficult to schedule plein air workshops and classes due unpredictable weather. So we've come up with a six-week studio class where, each week we explore a specific issue of the landscape painting process. For example, one week we would do just trees. I would do a demo, talk about what to look for in different types trees, light situations, approaches in visually articulating trees, sky holes, edges... the works. Then I would have the students do some simple exercises, and may be give out homework. The following week, we do it all over again, this time focusing on the sky.
Of course one can't cover all the essential concepts in just six sessions, no. But I think we can cover a lot. By breaking down the problems to smaller, simpler chunks, and focusing on them - and not worrying about orchestrating an entire picture - I think it will be a good way to understand and learn the basic concepts of landscape painting.
I don't think one can learn how to paint the landscape solely by painting from photographs. At some point we have to go outside and observe what nature really does, and learn how to interpret that onto our canvases. But as anyone who has ever tried painting en plein air knows, it is a hell of a lot of information out there that need to be processed in order to make one little painting. The more prior knowledge you have about how to handle each visual problem, the easier the actual battle will be. And some of this knowledge can be learned inside where it's warm and comfortable. Not all, but some. In fact it might even be more effective if we isolate the problem from the context of the actual landscape.
Anyway, that's what I'm doing starting this Thursday. The class is already full (sorry, it filled up before I even announced it) but if it goes well, I will definitely repeat it in the spring, and I may add a part II to look into more advanced ideas, and work plein air sessions into the series.
Right now I gotta go work on my lesson plan!