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,
Mom, Wife, Former Pediatrician, One who LOVES color, creativity, paint, and lifelong learning.