Sunday, October 28, 2012

Casey Baugh Figure Painting Workshop Recap

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a week painting at the Townsend Atelier with the amazing Casey Baugh.  And I mean LUCKY - I think I got the last spot before he closed admission!  The class was only 12 students, in an open and well-lit space.  

I was first introduced to Casey's work about 5 years ago by a fellow artist who showed me a magazine article on Casey's work.  Beautiful figures in impeccable wardrobes staged in the perfect setting.   Each element of his composition were obviously well thought out and painted with certainty.  Paintings that are so good because Casey was able to make the difficult look effortless.

And of course, since that first sighting in the magazine, I have watched out for new work and kept on eye on his classes and demonstrations.  All made easier, of course, because now you can watch him on Facebook and Instagram, too.  So after making sure Grandma could fly out and hold the fort while I go paint for 5 days, I went ahead and bought my seat in his class!

The first day was dedicated to a live portrait demo.  As soon as Casey started setting up the questions came flying one after another..."what kind of palette is that?" (Edge Pro Gear... SWEET!!!) "how do you line up your colors?" "what kind of paper towels are those?"...and so on.  12 eager students just waiting and hoping for the magic formula...the missing ingredient in our own bag of tricks that will make us paint JUST LIKE CASEY!!! (I really do think it's the blue towels...)

Anyway...why am I still writing?!?! You want to see pictures!

After taking time with the set-up - adjusting light, moving around the model, fixing hair, and thinking through the painting, only then did Casey pick up the brush.  That was important - I tend to think "aaagghhh!!! I'm paying the model! I have to start painting the minute she walks in the door!!!" but then 20 minutes into the painting I see that my set up and lighting aren't that great...take TIME to set up!

I think the panel size was about 12 - 14 inches square. What is helpful with Casey's easel is there are magnets on the case and on the panel - you just stick the panel up and go!

No rush to show that he knows how to paint perfect features: a few quick strokes to plot out the scale.  

Blocking in.  Quick peripheral glances at the model only to determine value.  No detail. No drawing.  Quick mixes of color close but not exact hues.  Value above all else.

Watching Casey use the brush and the paint was fascinating.  The right amount of pressure on the bristles, the right flick of the wrist, made all the difference.

I was amazed at how "late" in the game Casey would boldly put a stroke of dark color on the face or the hair.  No preciousness was felt for any stroke or area - if a change needed to be made, he made it.  Solve the problem.  Whenever it arises. 

Quick shot of his palette.  Light and dark versions of each color - blue, red, yellow, and brown.

Before he declared the piece finished, he carefully added his signature - also an element of the design and composition.  Only when the signature is in could he say whether or not the entire painting felt "done".

This summary really only scratches at the surface of what I learned just by watching Casey paint.  He was incredibly gracious and generous to answer every question, with no pretension:  he didn't know all the answers.  He just knew how he liked to try and solve every problem.   He shared his list of 7 things to think about in every painting, he talked about his mediums (which he used sparingly...if at all) and the business of being in the Art world.  

After the demo we all turned in for the day...for tomorrow...we would paint :)

***Casey Baugh will be holding a 5 Day Figure Painting workshop at my studio in Woodstock, Ga, 30 minutes north of Atlanta, in April 2013.  Visit his website to register***