Hollis Chatelain (link) is the fifth workshop teacher in my series of fabulous workshop teachers.
Hollis is a textile artist ("art quilter"). Why is she included in this series? As you will see as you read on, or look at her informative web site, Hollis is an amazing artist. Furthermore, she is a true colorist. Hollis's teaching introduced me to study, try to understand and use color theory in my painting.
1. What about Hollis Chatelain's textile paintings made me want to learn from her?
Here are some examples of some of my favorite of her finished pieces. I have to confess, limiting my choice was particularly difficult this week.
Starting with one of her monochromatic pieces. If you can click on this image of "Bluemen" and enlarge it, notice that all of the details are created in thread. The warm reds are the easiest stitches to see.
This monochromatic piece is called "Precious". First, notice the different "feeling" or "mood" that the choice of color causes. The "heat" of the parched areas (and not the refreshing coolness of the more expected choice of water (which is precious)) sends a very different message to the viewer.
Unfortunately, my editing skills don't allow you to see this entire orange piece called "Innocence". You can, however, get a sense of scale of this. To me, the orange color choice is disturbing and even distressingly bright (not my choice for "innocent"). You may not be able to see the unsettling images of children (some child soldiers, some exploited) quilted into the facial features of this large face. These images are not usually associated with our privileged western impressions of childhood. Perhaps this is the reason for the choice of the saturated orange of this work.
In contrast, "Compassion" is depicted in cooler colors. In addition to the images, the careful consideration of colors of this piece impart a sense of serenity and calmness.
These examples suggest to me that Hollis is a "Colorist".
On Hollis's web page, with these images in mind, you can explore what motivates her art.
2. What about Hollis's ability to teach? And perhaps, more importantly for this forum, how might a painter access and benefit from Hollis' s teaching?
Hollis teaches drawing both as a separate series and in the first year of her masters class (link). Hollis once remarked that "she could teach anyone to draw" using her method. She lectures about color and demonstrates how important color is in a workshop called "Quilt Line as the Third Element of Design". Her intense color theory training is year 3 (I think) of her masters class. If Hollis would agree, it certainly would be worth it to a painter's group to have Hollis teach her 5 day intense color theory workshop of her master's class to them.
Hollis is an incredibly well-organized teacher. She teaches by "student-discovery" (socratic method) and experimentation. This format can be challenging for adult learners who don't want to be "risk takers" and instead, want to "get it right". Hollis expects her students to work long hours in her master's class and because of this, you learn. She spends time with each student , usually challenging them to their maximum.
3. Evaluation After the Class
Although my sewing skills were not up to the year 9/10 master's class, Hollis was responsible for introducing me to color theory, design and critical evaluation of my work. Hollis's teaching would be valuable to any artist, regardless of medium. Hollis is definitely another top pick in my fabulous teacher series.
One of my students asked about when I had the great fortune to attend the workshops of my featured instructor series. Even before I started learning to paint full-time (now, almost nine years!), I attended one annual workshop, so I attended workshops over the past 15 years,
Maggie Siner (link) is the fourth workshop teacher in this series of fabulous workshop teachers.
1. What about Maggie Siner's paintings made me want to learn from her?
Here are some examples of some of my favorite of her finished paintings.
I love Maggie's compositions and considered calligraphy. I think her table and bed paintings are great examples of both.
Maggie's use of color in her paintings is exceptional. This is one of the best elements of her workshop teaching (described below). In the bed painting above, the red/green complimentary colors are easy to identify. However, as you are compelled to look at this painting longer, you notice the subtle changes in the saturation and value of the greens (and grey-greens) as your eye moves farther from the highly saturated reds. Also, looking carefully at the reds in this painting, you are able to see the more subtle changes in the saturation and color temperature of the reds. For example, the part of the form in the bed that commands the most attention (roundest and closet to the viewer) is the most "yellow" red (very warm and highly saturated). All other pieces of red are slightly more blue (or grey) progressing from those on the figure to those even "bluer" and "greyed" in the bedside flowers and the bottom corner of the bed. From a design perspective, notice the shapes, especially the "lead-in" lower right red corner of the bed cover.
In this painting, you can see the yellow/purple complimentary color choice. Again, the beautiful march from the more saturated yellow through the ever decreasing saturation of yellows across the painting to the greyed purples is considered and wonderfully executed.
You can watch a video of Maggie painting with her measured color choices and strokes here
2. What about Maggie's ability to teach?
Maggie began her workshop with an open invitation to listen to a slide presentation about "color and shape" . She illustrated her talk with master paintings. Perhaps even more for me, because I have not had formal art history training, this was one of the most exciting and interesting presentations that I have experienced. Unfortunately, Maggie's projector broke. We made due with the internet and our phones and i pads. However, the large format and colors from the slides and the amazing content of this talk means that if Maggie returns locally and this talk is available again, I will definitely attend and arrive early for a good seat. I don't have enough notes from this talk. Here are just are a couple of quotes:
"A painting exists inside a rectangle and is an an arrangement of shapes that is compelling"
"Look at the best paintings, Study great paintings. Do not look at bad paintings. Stand on the shoulder of giants. Study Old Masters paintings".
The time zipped by as she showed us important design elements (colors and shapes) in master paintings. I will never see Degas ballerinas as beautiful "ballerinas" again. Instead I will look at the careful shapes carefully threaded through these beautiful paintings.
Our workshop was set up to work with Maggie's expertly constructed still life setups. She demonstrated or taught important design and color concepts in the first part of the morning or afternoons.
Here are some notes:
1. When looking for composition, determine what touches the top and each side of the rectangle. Draw shapes that make an interesting pattern of light and dark. Try more than one small compositional study before starting a painting. Change the rectangle.
2. The painting is NOT about the objects in the still life but WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT
3. As spots of color are added, compare to other spots of color already placed.
See whether this image allows you to see the slight differences in the white color patches on the table cloth. You can see that she placed her brightest bright, whitest white and darkest dark first in this demonstration.
This demo used a "simple" line up of fruit. Maggies showed us the "rhythm" of the placement of fruit.
Notice the progression of the placement of color "spots".
This was a large workshop. I was only disappointed that Maggie didn't have a system to make things equitable either in placement of students and setups or in her teaching time. In her workshop, the more "aggressive" students and "squeaky wheels" had an advantage both in lighting in the room, choice of set up and placement and Maggie's time. We had evaluation forms and perhaps this feedback by many quieter students has been considered.
3. Evaluation After the Class
As I mentioned, I would definitely attend any lecture that Maggie gives in the future. I think her workshop is incredibly valuable. Maggie's workshop may be best for painters with some experience or confidence because she packs a ton of information into every minute. That said, Maggie Siner has a definite top place in my "fabulous workshop teacher series..
The third in this series of fabulous workshop instructors is Qiang-Huang (blog)
1. What about Qiang-Huang's paintings made me want to learn from him?
Here are some examples of some of my favorite of his finished paintings. Some of these are painted as demonstrations in his workshops.
Qiang-Huang paints beautiful painterly still life studies. The luminance of his grapes and glassware is especially well executed. His thick spots of brushwork and interrupted edges all add to his very recognizable style.
In addition, Qiang-Huang works on lovely floral portraits and studies.
2. What about Qiang-Huang's ability to teach?
Qiang's still life workshop that I attended was very well organized. In his life before becoming a painter, he was an engineer. Therefore, he is methodical and logical in his presentation of his methods of painting. After clear demonstrations, he had well designed and well-lit set ups for each participant. He went from student to student offering suggestions. He had a definite structure and goal to each demonstration and the practice time that followed.
This is the underpainting of his first demonstration in my class.
This is the completed study.
Qiang-Huang has a very affordable dvd of his process available on his site (link).
3. Evaluation After the Class
I think that Qiang-Huang is an especially good teacher for beginning painters because of his very well-thought-out process and his ability to demonstrate this in a very accessible way. Definitely recommended as an instructor.
The second in this series (though every bit as wonderful as the first in this series (Carolyn Anderson)) is Susan Harrison-Tustain (her web site).
1. What about Susan's paintings made me want to learn from her?
Here are some examples of her finished paintings.
Hard to believe that this is a watercolor, you are saying, Look at Susan's wonderful command of warm and cool colors. For example, the warm greens of the sunlit leaves and the cool greens of the leaves in shadow, Look at the glow of the inside of the main rose.
In addition to her wonderful flowers, the beautiful texture and depth of the stonewall background in this painting are fabulous.
This painting is also featured on the cover of her best selling teaching book "Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor" (link).
This is also a watercolor. Susan's figurative pieces are breathtaking. The flesh she paints is alive. In this painting she also captures the pattern of the lace umbrella and the bounced light from the poppies on the foreground arm.
Susan paints in both watercolor and in oil. Her oil paintings are as stunning as her watercolors. Recently she has painted on 24 carat gold and palladium leaf. This beautiful painting is an example of this. You can spend time enjoying more of her beautiful images on her web page.
Susan's workshops that I attended were watercolor.
2. What About Susan's Ability to Teach?
Susan has a fabulous web page with free art lessons (link). She also has instructional art dvds and video downloads .( I love every one that she has done). She generously shares her color palette and has even more teaching information on her newsletter/blog page (link).
Currently, Susan only teaches workshops in Australia and places in her workshops are reserved as soon as they are announced. She is as generous, caring and excellent teaching in person as she is in all of her available resources already discussed.
3. Equity: Does Susan Spend Time with Everyone?
Susan is very careful to give time and personal attention to every person in her workshop. As a teacher, I want to emulate Susan in trying to reach every student as a unique individual.
4. Evaluation After the Class
I didn't know how valuable notes or photographs of work in progress during a workshop were when I took Susan's workshop many years ago. I have no direct quotes or WIP photos. However, I continue to use her "priming method" (described in her book, her magazine articles, her dvds and on her blog) and careful layering of thin color washes in particular areas of my watercolors. I am too impatient to paint this precisely in all of my paintings. However, I know Susan's teaching allows me to achieve great form, depth and clean luminous colors when I can slow myself down. Susan taught me to understand "warm and cool" yellows which was a breakthrough for me. I was totally stuck on yellow being a "warm color".
If you are able to travel to Australia just for a workshop with Susan, it would be worth it, in my opinion. Additional travel could be an option. Get your name on the list early!!!
Putting aside the positives of a participating in a painting workshop that include: uninterrupted painting time in the company of people who also value painting or interesting travel destinations, what follows are my fundamental questions and answers from the best workshops I have attended.
The first in this series is Carolyn Anderson
1. What about Carolyn's paintings made me want to learn from her?
Here are some examples of her finished paintings.
Note her fabulous understanding of design. The viewer is compelled to look at the bird’s head. It has an eye (which humans see first). However, the head also has the darkest dark against the lightest light. the warmest and most intense warm and the most detail. Her color use (and understanding) is illustrated as you squint and look at the edges (note for example at the bottom of the bird and the puddle or ground it is sitting on). Here the edges are lost by the similarity of values. Just so, the back of the head merges with the background.
Here again, the viewer knows this is a rabbit but it is only with the least amount of information. The viewer has to “do their work” and is engaged and interested in the painting to "figure it out".
Notice the amount of form Carolyn achieves on the soft rounded faces of children. Again, her fantastic use of warm reds bring the cheeks forward. The brushwork and edges are wonderful.
When I decided that I wanted to learn to paint, I hung this image on a vision board. Look at the saturation and warmer color temperature of the "white" leotard in the most forward leg compared to that of the more distant leg: the pink saturated spot on the finger and the choice the Munsell color compliments of celadon and red.
Carolyn said in the first workshop that I took from her "“If what I paint doesn’t surprise me, how can I expect it to surprise someone else?”
Specific things that I love about Carolyn's work are her brushwork, edges, choice of color and design.
2. What About Carolyn's Ability to Teach
Carolyn has an informative web site. Read her "Thoughts on Painting", or listen to her art chats. Or read her very pithy and informative blog.
On Wed, Jan 28, 2015, she published a handout that she provided in her workshop.
“Everything you need to know about painting”
1. The Art of Seeing - Squint!
2. Design & Composition - Think cause and effect.
3. Everything You Need to Know About Values - Is it lighter or darker?
4. Everything You Need to Know About Color - Is it warmer or cooler?
5. When Your Painting Doesn't Work - Identify the problem and find a solution.
6. When Your Painting Still Doesn't Work - Take a break. Drink coffee. Read No. 5.
7. It Still Doesn't Work - Never beat a dead horse.
8. How To Know If Your Painting Is Finished - You have a run out of time or have nothing else to say.
Carolyn teaches as she demonstrates. She also schedules blocks of time to teach theory and review principles using master paintings.
Above is a series of WIP from a demonstration using a photograph that Carolyn painted very quickly. Carolyn teaches how to use photographs as references for painting, discussing their limitations and illustrating their edge qualities .
Carolyn's workshops mostly paint from life. This is her demonstration from one morning.
3. Equity: Does Carolyn Spend Time with Everyone?
Carolyn has a great system to keep things "fair" in her classes. She has a rotation to allow choice of position with the models. This rotation also seems to help with her equitable individual student attention. (Many teachers seem to struggle with this).
4. Evaluation After the Class
Here are some take away principles that continue to inform my own painting: These are from notes I took during the constant follow of information.
1.painting similar values beside each other makes an edge disappear
2. edges are the transition between shapes, values, and colors and they define or diminish form
3. a dark appears darker by painting a light beside it
4. use bush strokes with intent (look at Sargent and Fechin)
5. all four corners of the painting should be different
6. start painting with the darkest dark and the lightest light:
the warmest warm and the coolest cool....
6.Everything is "in relation to". (This one you have to "be there")
I have more but this gives you the idea.
I have taken two workshops with Carolyn. She has my highest recommendation as a teacher. I hope to take another workshop from her, confident that there is so much more I can learn from her,
Second in this series of bright colors and abstracted florals. Continuing to use the Thirty in Thirty Challenge to experiment.
For some time,I have been experimenting with color, shape and design to create images that are "there"and "not there". The thirty in thirty challenge seemed like an opportunity to push this further.
I started this painting by painting in all of the dark shapes after I had measurements marks and a border rectangle for the figure. Since making the lightest values in flesh with too much white results in pasty skin, I pushed the darks even darker than the reference photo. This is an i phone image so I haven't got the best color represented in this. I will add another photo after I use my light set up and good camera. For now, I have to make the deadline for day 6 of the challenge.
This is another 7 x 5 inch study for the 30 day challenge. It is inspired by a friend's photo of her grand baby . I wanted to capture the feeling of light and the sense of glowing colors that I got from this reference To accomplish this, I chose purple/yellow compliments and walked turquoise both toward blue (cooler in the shadows) and toward green-yellow (warmer in the light).
Mom, Wife, Former Pediatrician, One who LOVES color, creativity, paint, and lifelong learning.