OK obviously I am going to have to wrap this up or there will be nothing new on my blog for another month! The last two days of the workshop were a lot of fun. Day four was designated for painting the model outdoors. We took a short walk around as a class, scouting for a location. Close to the Atelier there were a lot of interesting backdrops, including some abandoned buildings covered in old brickwork and graffiti.
Once we settled on a couple spots (some artists opted for landscapes/cityscapes without the model) we had to move our supplies from the school to the location.
Several of us chose to work with this model on this interesting old platform. (ok - here is one of those frustrating situations. I was helping several artists go back and forth with easels, and ended up not only losing my original spot to another artist, but the model was set up before I got back. It was, in my opinion, a very un-inspired pose in a very inspired setting. But you have to shake these things off in a class. You are only one voice in a group, and even - like me - when you are a loud voice, things don't always present the ideal situation.) So I painted as much as I could, got some great feedback from Casey, then painted over my painting when I got home.
This is Shelli, who writes a blog called the Traveling Artist
. As the sun moved during the day, it was very entertaining to watch Shelli cover her head with various makeshift wraps and scarves made out of paper towels to block out the sun.
Right next to the platform where we were painting outside was an abandoned building that looked straight out of the book "The Road". In spite of the soiled mattresses, broken glass, and the smell of...well, let's not think about what the smell could be...there was a cool shaft of light coming from the open roof, perfect for Thomas Voorhies to set up his easel. Tom is one half of the pen name Lex Thomas
. They just wrote their first novel, Quarantine. I'm guessing some of this environment might make it into Tom's next book. I actually took a bunch of photos of our wonderful model up against that cool brick wall in the background. I can't wait to paint a few of them.
As the day progressed, the sun moved, washing out the model, and warming us a tad too much. Many artists headed back to the studio for some shade, and I actually skipped out a bit early so that I could return to the atelier in the evening for some practice at their live model session.
The final day of class was a lot of fun as well. Casey brought in the painting of his daughter playing piano, which won an award at the 2012 Portrait Conference. It was amazing to see it in person, to hear Casey talk about the process, everything from the source photo to the painting technique to selecting the custom frame colors.
Casey then selected one of the artists from class to pose for him (aaaggghhhh!!!! Could you imagine?!?!?) He shot about 50-60 photos of her laughing and smiling, then showed us his process for editing, eliminating, selecting, and even enhancing a source photo to paint from. This was incredibly helpful for me, since I am constantly shooting inspiration photos.
Casey sets up his easel and monitor very close together, aiming to work from a source as close to the size of the painting as possible. (Not sure if this is considered the same as the sight-size painting method.)
At the end of the demo, Casey auctioned off both demos - the one from the first day and this painting. Of course I am NOW kicking myself for not bidding!!! So be prepared: if you take his workshop, set aside some money to bid - if you don't you will regret it later :)
So...was the workshop worth it? Absolutely. Casey is a very effective teacher. He is able to work with anyone's style and palette, finding good aspects of each painting and encouraging each student to look at different ways of seeing and then applying paint. Watching Casey paint was, IMO, the best part. Seeing him make a bold brushstroke to add in a deep shadow, or a soft stroke across the mass of hair just to add a hint of color, each stroke taught me something about how to use the paint and the brush.
My tips for taking a workshop:
1. Make sure you are at the appropriate skill level for the class.
Several of the students in this group seemed to be novice portrait painters. This was listed as a Master Class - I think the artists who got the most of out the class had portrait experience.
2. Be open to the teacher's techniques.
You are not there to do the same thing you always do. What's the point? TRY the teacher's techniques - even if it is TOTALLY different from the way you normally work. This is not the time to make a masterpiece in your style - you rarely get the perfect spot with the perfect lighting and the perfect pose for a masterful painting. This is PRACTICE. Learn! Besides - even if you do make THE perfect painting, paintings created in a workshop are not eligible for most contests or juried exhibitions. Save your best work for after the class :)
3. Stop painting and start watching.
I probably spent about 75% of my time at my easel, but also found myself consistently stepping away so that I could watch Casey work with another artist. Hearing his direction, watching him change a painting, seeing how he mixed paint, was all so helpful. Granted, I am a pretty fast painter, so I felt ok stepping away from my easel and sacrificing a little painting time. But it really was important to learn as much as possible from Casey every time he painted.
I'm sure there are more bits of advice I could share, but the bottom line for me would be: stay positive, stay focused on LEARNING, be flexible! Take great notes, ask a lot of questions, and have a good time :)