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