Sunday, March 25, 2012

Big Reveal

 Greetings All -

I promised those of you who attended my final Stuhr Museum demonstration that I would post the finished painting from that event.

In my studio, all alone with myself, my mind is completely engaged in the work of my hand, analyzing color and value immediately as it is applied. I can mumble and talk to myself without the burden of actually making sense. I get to wear comfy clothes. Distractions are at a minimum.

Demos are different.

Those of you who have taken on the role of painting demonstrator and lived to tell about it understand that its a challenge to focus both on the creative act and the conversational element.

Its a bit unnerving to know there are people behind me watching my every move. I felt a tremendous urge to be good, really good at what I do. I was also acutely aware of the fact that I needed a haircut and that my cowlick was unusually rowdy that morning. The cute top I chose to wear felt funny on my neck; the bowl of chocolate covered pomegranates nearby whispered my name repeatedly. 

For those of you who weren't there, this is where we ended up after nearly 3 hours of painting, laughing, conversing and nibbling some delicious snacks.

 It's a fairly decent start but needs lots of help.  After considerable thought, I swept off a few overworked areas and gave the entire piece a spray of workable fixative.  My plan was to darken the darks without adding more pastel, which the fixative does, and re-work some areas that felt clumsy.

...several hours later I'm calling it done. This part of the process takes time, and it's time mostly spent making a mark, pondering, making another mark, and pondering that. There's probably more thinking than painting going on. Which, during a demo, can be dull as toast, and why many paintings don't get finished during these events. 

( closeup ) 

To see paintings that are actually finished and framed, stop by Stuhr Museum, in Grand Island, Ne.  Land Marks and Wings Over the Platte are on view during regular business hours until then.  Consider coming to the closing reception on April 1st from 2 to 4, just to say hello. It'd be great to see you there, and I'm fairly certain that my cowlick will be under control.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stuhr Demo Recap

Greetings All-

Last week I promised you an extended version of the pastel demonstration I did as part of a workshop at Stuhr Museum recently.  Huge thanks to Linda Welsch for providing the photos.

Let's pull back the curtain of mystery, shall we?

Right off the bat you'll notice I'm using a photo for reference. I'm not interested in copying the photo, but in using it for reminders of interesting shapes and values.  In a workshop this helps participants see what I'm using for inspiration and gives us all the same point of reference. (This particular image is actually of an algae covered back water created from heavy spring rains. Most people around here drive right on by not giving it a second thought. Taken out of it's normal context though, it's actually an attractive view.)

While I don't worry about details at this point, I do spend some time getting the basic shapes where I want them. Giving this step some attention helps avoid problems like head banging and gnashing of teeth later on.

A quick thin layer of a dark cool color to develop shadows and tie the shapes together ...

... some local color to further develop the shapes and values, a dash of red in the foreground just for fun ...

  ... seeing what things look like from several feet away - or better yet, from across the room ...

adding sky color in several blues not only gives the painting a logical  element but gives the trees their shape ...

An hour into the painting it's time for me to put my feet up and let the workshop participants start in.
I don't work this quickly in my studio practice but I know these folks are anxious to dive in and get their paper dirty. The rest of the day will be spent advising and helping the students with their projects.
Since it's not a bad start for a painting, my plan is to finish it at home...

... which I do.

After a couple of days spent ignoring it, I came back with a fresh perspective (pun intended).  Several thoughtful hours were spent refining the shapes, colors and values. I've tweaked, untweaked and re-tweaked multiple times.    I've stepped back, stepped back even farther, and farther yet again to make certain it 'reads' properly. I've peaked at it from around the doorway and checked it in a mirror. Even now, seeing it a new context, (online and smaller) I see some things that need re-re-tweaking. Or is that un-re-tweaking?

So it'll be one more trip to my easel to deal with a couple of things and voila! Sign it and celebrate with a glass of lemonade.

There you have it. Your own private workshop from the comfort of your easy chair. All my secrets revealed. 
Class dismissed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stuhr Workshop

Greetings Friends-

I love teaching workshops, especially for those folks who are just getting started. Yesterday's class was immensely enjoyable, filled with artists who were willing to stretch outside their comfort zones and experiment with pastels. Kari, curator at Stuhr Museum, provided us with everything we could hope for to have a really comfortable day. (Read muffins, chocolates,'s little necessities.)

I'm having a bit of post-workshop hangover, which means the handfull of brain cells I have left are very weary. I leave you with some scenes of the class, courtesy of my very kind artist-friend Linda Welsch

I'm very much a 'learn by doing' person, so starting the class with a demo makes sense to me. Next week I will post the demo in its entirety, along with the final painting. It's not too bad for a demo if I do say so myself.

I have no idea what I was trying to say here. Probably something like, "Dibs on the M&M's!"

This group of artists had no fear, jumping right in to get started.  It wasn't so much me guiding as it was me getting out of the way so they could  chart their own course.

Styles from each easel were vastly different. I was immensely pleased to see participants honor their own style and vision while stretching their skills.

That's my goal as a workshop instructor to give participants an understanding of the medium, its limitations and advantages, as well as a basic framework of procedure in developing a painting.  After that it's my job to get out of the way and honor each artist's unique way of interpreting the world.

Huge thanks to Stuhr Museum and the Nebraska Arts Council for sponsoring this workshop.  I'll post the entire demo, as well as the finished painting next week.  You'll get a free workshop from the comfort of your own home. Byob.

If you're out near Grand Island, Nebraska, next Sunday, March 18th, plan to stop by Stuhr Museum and say hello. I'll be there from 1:30 to 4:30 with my paint box one more time.

Will I see you there?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Dancing

Greetings Dear Reader-

Hooooo-ey what a week its been!  I have had more fun the last 7days than a person has a right to, and  the exciting thing is I'm not done yet. 

Wednesday I was interviewed on NTV's Good Life, a morning news program featuring local folks doing fun and interesting things.  Since I am both fun and interesting (at least in my world) I spent a few minutes with hosts Carol and Roni visiting about my Land Marks exhibit, and other upcoming events.

(An admission:  After spending entirely too long trying to embed the video of the interview, I surrender and provide links.  It worked once and has since refused to cooperate.  I had hoped to impress you not only with my interview skills but with my internet tech skills.   My feet are firmly planted in reality now, thankyew very much.)

Surprise, NTV's videos are only available for a few days! You'll just have to imagine how fabulous I was... 

The first part of the interview:

And then we retired to the set "kitchen" for some painting fun:

On Saturday I shared a 3-hour pastel demonstration at Crane Trust Nature Center.  Visitors from far and wide have been stopping there to witness one of nature's great migratory events so there were lots of interesting folks to visit with.

Painting in front of an audience is always a challenge. Part performance art, part education,  it involves accessing both halves of my already sizzling brain at the same time, thus causing a traffic jam of epic proportion. It's a bit like two fat people trying to squeeze through a doorway at the same time going different directions; with a little thought and preparation it can be done, but a a certain point there's just going to be some shoving and pushing and someone's gonna look a little silly.

Even got a little television action from local Channel 5 in Hastings....

And the fun continues.  Next weekend I'll be teaching a one-day pastel workshop at Stuhr Museum, and the Sunday after that I'll be doing another demo, also at Stuhr.

I'm living my dream. I'm grateful to you, Dear Reader, to Handsome Husband, to the fine folks at Stuhr Museum, Crane Trust Nature Center and Nebraska Arts Council for helping it become a reality.

I'm all a-grin and doing a happy dance across the room.

What kind of happy dance are you doing?