Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stapleton Kearns workshop

This weekend, I am taking a plein air painting workshop with Stapleton Kearns. Besides being an incredibly gifted painter, Stape is also a great instructor, and all around funny guy. We are spending three days on Peter and Ann Sawyer's beautiful 200 year old farm here in Jaffrey.

The Sawyers welcomed us with their typical hospitality, and have given us pretty much free reign to wander around their 300+ acres of hayfields, hedgerows, and cow pastures, with views of Monadnock, the farm structures, including three silos and a fabulous old barn, and the farm house itself. Weather has been absolutely perfect, so we're loving every minute of it.
And painting like mad, for about 8 or more hours each day. This is hard work! We're exhausted, and inspired and frustrated all at the same time. As Stape put it .. whenever anybody sees him painting outside and comments "Oh, that looks so relaxing" he wants to pummel them. Painting is not easy! It takes all the mental and emotional energy you have to do it well, and lugging all the equipment around and standing up all day, can be physically draining also. But so worth it.
Most of us are here because we MUST paint - it is just in us. And this is an investment in trying to get better at what we do.

.Here is a short excerpt of Stape doing the morning demo - he is discussing mixing greens, something that every landscape painter who has had to deal with summer painting in New England is well aware is a difficulty!

Here we are trying to take it all in!

We meet and set up at 9am, and paint till the cows come home. Seriously. No kidding. The cows wander over near our easels in the morning, and then they go up the hill to the high pasture. In the evening, around suppertime, they come plodding back down to where we are. We paint until there's not enough light left to paint, and then we've been going out together as a group and eating dinner and debriefing the day's work.

I am learning lots. Today I tried something totally new and different for me.
I'll probably be posting more about this in a later blog. I couldn't work on my first day's painting because it got dog hair stuck all in the wet paint,(thanks, Tucker!) and I had to let it completely dry so that I could brush the hair off. So today, I started a new small panel with a twist. I used what is called an "earth color palette". That is, instead of using the regular array of colors , like red, yellow, blue, green, etc., I used only earth colors. So I had burnt sienna (a reddish brown about the color of the cow), yellow ochre (the color of straw), black, and white. We all know that the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue, can be used to mix all the other colors. In the earth palette, there are no primary colors. The burnt sienna becomes the "red", the ochre is the "yellow" and the black becomes the "blue". It is a delicate balance of mixing values and color temperature that is challenging and intriging, and I really loved working with it today. So much that I think I will do another larger piece tomorrow. Here is a photo of the (still unfinished) painting from today. Can you believe there is no blue used? That sky appears blue because the coolness of the gray "reads" as a blue because of the warmth of all the other colors.
And though it is impossible to mix a real green with these colors, there are greenish tones in some of the mixes. Can't wait to try another one!

1 comment:

Gregory Becker said...

Deb your painting is absolutely beautiful. I have to try one of those earth palettes.
Great work.