Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Workshop in LA

I was down in LA this past weekend teaching another workshop~ It was a lot of fun painting with a wonderful group of students. That we had perfect weather didn't hurt, either.

Above is my first demo. We met at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades. Besides Will Rogers' house, there were some beautiful eucalyptus trees all around, a polo field (?) and all the structures that goes with it. No shortage of motifs. I decided on this view of the trees; I thought it had everything I needed to illustrate the points that I wanted to emphasize in a plein air demo.  

I set up in the shade, but after I had everything blocked in we moved into the sun because it got a little chilly. 

As it often happens when your canvas is in the sun, the values that I was applying looked lighter and brighter. When I looked at it later indoors, it looked much darker. I thought I had compensated for the bright light hitting my canvas but apparently, not enough. It'll be easy to fix, though.

On day 2, everyone painted at the Will Rogers Park, and there were more people about, enjoying the Cinco de Mayo weekend. A big, beautiful Airstream trailer was parked near us, providing yet another fabulous motif for us. 

In the afternoon, there were some polo matches in the field, too. I'd never seen an actual polo game, so it was quite a treat to see. The announcer was getting on everyone's nerves though. 

I went around from easel to easel, offering help and instruction all day. I did get to paint the Airstream a little bit, albeit not on my canvas. Fun stuff.

On day 3, my students decided that they want to see a demo on painting a cityscape from a photo reference. No problem~ we dug some random SF scene from the internet and I proceeded to paint it.

Along the way, the subject of different approaches to structuring color came up, so I interrupted the cityscape and did the above demo to illustrate a couple of important points. Mainly it's about painting tonally vs. high key color. It was a quick and dirty demo but I think it was helpful.

So I continued on with the little cityscape demo; what to look for when drawing perspective-heavy scenes, how to simplify an overwhelming amount of information so you're not painting every little thing, how to keep color in check, and how temperature shifts work in various situations.

This painting could use another couple of hours to bring it to finish, but I was pretty pleased with the way it came out. I hope it made sense to everyone!

 Flying to a distant location to do workshops is sometimes difficult because of all the unknowns associated with such an operation, and the experience can be exhausting and not so ideal. But I have no complaints about this one!  Thank you Susan for organizing everything and making it all go smoothly, and thank you for making my stay extra comfortable. What wonderful hosts you and Peter were – I'm still talking about the food and the wine!

I'm now back in my studio, and mulling over some new paintings. It's time to switch gears and get messy!


  1. Would have loved to have been part of your workshop in LA. How do you normally give notice of upcoming workshops in So. Cal? Never having done the plein air thing, yet..what do you recommend having for an outdoor set-up?

  2. Doretta, normally I announce upcoming workshops first on this blog, then in my e- newsletter, then on my website. This particular workshop was not announced because it was for a private group and was not open to public.
    If your local art organization would like to host a workshop, I'd be happy to do one!

  3. As for basic plain air set up, it's just the same as a studio set up, only made more portable. Some kind of field easel, (I use a Soltek most of the time) a palette that allows you to transport left over paint on it,(I use the French Companion) paints, brushes, panels to paint on, a wet panel carrier, solvent in an air tight container, paper towel, and a small garbage bag.
    There are so many different options out there nowadays that I couldn't possibly tell you what's best, (really depends on your particular needs) so I usually tell people to keep it simple. If you pick a spot where you can set up next to your car, you won't have to worry so much about portability.