Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sergei Bongart: Notes on Painting

Graphic designer and fine artist Norm Nason has compiled and posted a page of Sergei Bongart's Notes on Painting. A student of Russian realism and American impressionism, Bongart was an influential painter and instructor until his death in 1985. Here is some of the guidance that he gave his many students (and note the encouraging disclaimer at the end):

It is vital at the start of a painting to cover the white of the canvas with chosen silhouettes of color. Do this as soon as possible. A white canvas masks the truth of the color relationships.

It is entirely possible, and often advisable, to spend 90% of your time merely adjusting the big, simple shapes before ever moving to the rendering.

Of all the properties of color, value is by far the most powerful. Value and design set the painting; all else builds from them.

When dealing with complimentary colors in a composition (warms against cools), a good rule of thumb is to shift both to the same side of the color wheel. This may help harmonize and otherwise sharp composition. Take, for example, yellow and violet. Move them both to, say, the red side. The yellow then becomes a yellow-orange, while the violet becomes a reddish violet.

A light object against a dark background (in intense light) will have its edges flare and soften into the darkness, taking on the intense color of the light. The human eye naturally focuses on one distinct area at a time, leaving everything else softly out of focus. When painting, pick out a few hard edges at points where you want the viewer to concentrate and soften the edges elsewhere.

Disclaimer. All of the above are basic observations of light on form. Things tend to play in reality the way I've stated. However, you can easily find wonderful exceptions in the art world to everything I've told you. Use the information as a tool to learn color, but don't feel inhibited by it. Remember that art, at its best, is the seeing of life in new and exciting ways, not as rote formula.

Stay in the paint!

Sergei Bongart

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

David Slonim - June Oil Painting Workshop

There are still a few spots open for David Slonim's June 16-18 workshop sponsored by Indiana Heritage Arts (there is an application form at their site). All levels of oil painters are welcome.

This workshop will focus on the universal principles of visual communication used by every great painter, regardless of style or time period. It will include plein air and studio time, demos and individual attenion. It will cover not only some of the key principles, but how to continue learning on your own after the workshop ends.

"The goal is not to get you to paint like I do, but to paint like yourself with more beauty and power of expression in your work. It’s not about technique or style, but a mindset."
- David Slonim

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quang Ho - Artist & Teacher

Painter and instructor Quang Ho had his first one-man show at the age of sixteen. He's been painting ever since, and, in addition to a successful career as an artist, he has been teaching for twenty years at the Art Students League of Denver.

He recently completed three instructional DVDs: Nuts and Bolts, Painting the Still-Life, and Painting the Figure in an Interior. His teaching focuses not only on the elements of a painting such as light, edges, abstract shapes and the way they fit together, etc. but also on "visual vocabulary," the artist's intention and the qualities that the painting expresses.

He will participate again this year in the Weekend With the Masters, which will be held in Dana Point, California September 23-26.

He is also completing a series of illustrations for a children's book and preparing for an exhibit in London.

He does take time out for dinner with friends sometimes, and he has done several paintings of the kitchen in his favorite restaurant, Mizuna in Denver.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dominik Modlinski - Adventurous Artist

Canadian artist Dominik Modlinski has traveled (almost) from pole to pole in the Western Hemisphere. He is offering workshops this year on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, in Yukon Territory, Alaska and Todos Santos, Mexico. You can also hire him to lead an expedition/workshop for you and a few friends in the location of your choice.

Since most of his paintings feature wilderness, it's interesting to see his blog posts from Japan, where he is following the cherry blossoms, starting in Hiroshima and traveling north. A much tamer place than his usual domain...(although he did encounter some wild boars!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

M.E. "Mike" Bailey - Artist

Santa Cruz artist, teacher and new president of the National Watercolor Society, M.E. "Mike" Bailey has a degree in engineering and, in spite of an early interest in art, didn't get into painting in a major way until he was 46.

He uses both watercolor and oils, and there is a list of free articles on this page of his website dealing with process, elements, intentions, creativity and other aspects of art and being an artist. There is also a beautifully illustrated page about travel journals. In addition, he posts news and demos regularly on his lively blog.

He will be offering a workshop, "Watercolor Beyond the Obvious" in North Carolina next month.

On the Watercolor Landscape page of his website, this is what he has to say about painting plein air:

"There is nothing better (or worse!) than to paint outdoors! The distractions and confronting challenges are myriad and the conditions often very uncomfortable. It is where lessons of light are learned the hard way! Frankly, few of my plein air attempts come out as ‘nice’ as a studio painting. There is, however, an urgent energy in paintings done outdoors, which is quite charming."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

National Parks Artist-in-Residence Program

Artists have been part of national parks since the 1860s and 70s, when painters, photographers and writers played a vital role in documenting the spectacular landscapes of the West and convincing Congress to preserve certain places as a public trust.

Today, 29 national parks around the country participate in an Artist-In-Residence program for painters, sculptors, writers, poets, photographers, composers, performers and craft artists to live and work on site in the park. Usually, artists are expected to donate a piece of art or offer a public presentation in exchange for a place to live and work in the park for two weeks or more.

The photo above shows John B. Fairbanks (1855-1940) painting in Zion National Park in Utah.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Michael Newberry Tutorials

Painter, gallery owner, art critic and instructor Michael Newberry has posted 49 tutorials on his website, three of which are specifically about painting outdoors.

This one (which is in two segments) demonstrates his dark-to-light plein air technique. This method is helpful in three ways: "It enables the painter to work quickly (an absolute necessity for outdoor, quick painting in under an hour). This approach keeps the highlighted areas clean and bright, which solves the problem of the oils' tendency to become muddy. This technique easily merges, or groups all the shadow's colors--giving them a translucent, natural feeling."

And this one, called "Finishing Off Plein Air Paintings," shows how it's possible to use a retro-active thumbnail sketch to recallibrate the values or other elements in your painting.

He is also offering three plein air workshops in Santa Monica, Mexico and Canada this spring and summer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bill Cone - Pastelist at Pixar

California artist Bill Cone has worked as a commercial illustrator, a set designer for the movie Toy Story and as production designer for A Bugs Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars.

About ten years ago, he started taking pastels outdoors to study the various effects of sunlight and atmosphere. He was captivated by the qualities of natural light and color, and he continues to work in both worlds - fine art and animation. The study shown here is from a trip to the Sierras, where for the last five years he and some fellow artists have hired a cook and pack mules for a trek into the mountains.

He will be participating again this year in Sonoma Plein Air. There is a wait list for his class this July at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus (the class size is limited to 12).

"Natural light has such an extraordinary range of complexity and subtlety, that it is truly a bottomless well of inspiration for any artist that has gone outside to work. To capture even a fraction of those qualities in an image is a worthy goal."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Acadia Workshop Center, Mount Desert Island, Maine

Mount Desert Island, Maine, the second largest island on the eastern seaboard (second only to Long Island in size) is home to Acadia National Park and the Acadia Workshop Center which is offering 19 painting workshops this season, most of them working outdoors at least part of the time. There are some big names here.

Classes that involve plein air include Don Getz, Watercolor Journaling, Susan Abbott, Color in the Maine Landscape (all media), Peter Spataro, Painting the Colors of the Wind (all media), Kristy Kutch, Coastal Colored Pencil, Sheila Parsons, Watercolor, Tom Jones, Creating Atmosphere in Watercolor Landscapes, Shelli Ardizonne, Plein Air Boot Camp, Christine La Fuente, oil, Lee Boynton, August Light: Painting the Impressionist Landscape in Oil,
Armand Cabrera, Painting the Maine Landscape (oil & acrylic), Julie Houck, Painting the Dynamic Landscape; Creating Light-Filled Color (oil & pastel), Elin Pendelton, Fall Color Boot Camp (oil & acrylic), Marsha Staiger, Inside the Outside - An in-depth look at abstract from the landscape (acrylic/mixed media), Kay Kandra, Beyond Pretty Pictures (watercolor), Bob Rohm, The Maine Landscape (oil & pastel), Michael Chesley Johnson, The Maine Landscape in Pastel or Oil, and Lois Griffel, Painting the Impressionist Landscape (oil).

They have posted a helpful Student Tips page which includes pragmatic information such as, "Have reasonable expectations. You are here to learn so please come with an open mind. Do not expect to paint "masterpieces". This is a learning experience. Very often students find that what they learn in class actually takes a while to digest."

There are art materials available at the Workshop Center, and they have easels, chairs and umbrellas for rent (reservations required).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lorie Merfeld-Batson - Artist

Award-winning plein air painter Lorie Merfeld-Batson apprenticed with nationally known artist Gerald Merfeld and then studied in Chicago at the American Academy of Art and the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts. She now lives in southern Colorado with her family, regularly painting plein air and traveling by horseback into the mountains to gather material.
She paints in oils and pastels and occasionally watercolors and finds that switching mediums keeps a freshness in her approach.

Next month she will be participating in the Nomadas Del Arte in Dallas and the Governer's Invitational Art Show in Loveland, Colorado.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Zionsville, Indiana Paint Out and Workshop

The Sullivan Munce Cultural Center in Zionsville, Indiana will be hosting its annual Plein Air Paint Out on June 19 and Workshop June 21-24. Always a sell-out, this event will offer an opportunity to study with three nationally known artists: Charles Warren Mundy, Todd Reifers and David Slonim, whose painting is shown here.

Artists will meet at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center on the first day for demonstrations and question & answer sessions. Days 2 and 3 will consist of outdoor painting with instruction. On Day 4, participants will display their work, engage in a critique with the instructors and have another question & answer session.

The registration fee of $600 members/$650 non-members includes three and a half days of instruction; lunch each day; admission to the Art in the Garden Patron Party; participation in the Zionsville Paint Out on Saturday, June 19, and entry in the Zionsville Paint Out Exhibition June 25 through July 24 at the Cultural Center.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Artists Abroad - European Painting Trips

Mary Jean Weber started organizing plein air painting vacations in 2009 after enjoying many such trips as a participant. She is planning two excursions this summer. The trip to Umbria from May 23- June 6 still has some spaces available. This is a two week, non-instructional visit to the Umbrian hill towns where excellent wine and olive oil are produced, near the historic city of Terni where art supplies are available.

"It is so much fun traveling with a group of like minded people who love to paint. You make lots of new friends and really experience the country on a deeper level when you are painting it. It is a travel experience that is truly enriching, exciting and fun. Come and join us."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lorenzo Chavez - Advanced Indoor Landscape Concepts

In addition to graduating with honors from the Colorado Institute of Art and studying at the Art Students League of Denver, Lorenzo Chavez has taken professional workshops with some of the best: Ned Jacob, Richard Schmid, Clyde Aspevig, Michael Lynch and Skip Whitcomb.

He has been teaching plein air pastel and oil painting for fifteen years now, and next month, April 2-4, he will be offering an advanced workshop in studio concepts. These include designing from plein air studies and photos, discussions of values, edges, simplification, color and drawing as well as professional presentations and getting your work seen. This workshop is for intermediate to advanced students with previous plein air experience. It will be held at Terry Ludwig's studio just south of Denver.

Lorenzo Chavez will be offering eight other workshops between now and November in Arizona, New York, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas City, Washington and Hawaii (see the list here).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marc Hanson Workshops

Marc Hanson is an award-winning Minnesota plein air painter who works outdoors year round and has been teaching for twenty years. He is offering four workshops this year, in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. They are open to artists working in oil and pastel. All levels are welcome, from beginner through advanced.

The basic elements of painting will be emphasized, from concept and mood to value relationships (including black & white exercises), blocking in the masses, color studies and finishing details that effectively communicate your intention to the viewer.

"My purpose is not to replicate the specific or dwell on the spectacular, as much as it is to observe the specific and to discover the beauty in the seemingly unspectacular."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hudson River Valley Art Workshops

In the Catskill Mountain region of the Hudson River Valley, the Greenville Arms 1889 Inn is offering a diverse selection of painting workshops this season. Twelve of them involve plein air, including two "retreats" with no set program (for self-motivated people).

This page lists all the instructors. Plein air classes will be taught by Lorenzo Chavez, Alvaro Castagnet, David Dunlop, Lewis Barrett Lehrman, Betty Carr, Mel Stabin, Stanley Maltzman, Anatoly Dverin and Kenn Backhaus. Beginners are welcome, except in the Alvaro Castagnet and Kenn Backhaus workshops, which are intended for intermediate to advanced students.

Classes are limited to 20 students. The Greenville Arms has been hosting art workshops since 1982, providing comfortable lodging, delicious food, beautiful scenery, professional instructors and 24-hour studio access.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Walter Bartman - Artist and Teacher

Plein air painter Walter Bartman, an artist and teacher for close to forty years, is the founder of The Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery at Glen Echo Park, Maryland. Since 1994, it has offered classes, workshops, speakers and residencies. They also offer a free art class for high school students and bus trips to some of the best museums on the east coast.

This month, Gallery 322 in Frederick, Maryland is hosting an exhibit of Bartman's paintings. The opening reception will be tomorrow, March 6th, from 4-8 p.m.

An interview with Walter Bartman has been posted on the blog Art and Perception. In it, he talks about his methods and why they have been successful:

"Community has always been something I feel has made great movements in the arts, science or math. It was my intention from the very beginning to build a community of young artists as the future generation. I have always felt that human thought is collective. We build ideas on the thoughts of others. If you can bring a group of very creative people together in a sharing environment, they will support each other and challenge each other to go beyond the instructor’s expectations.

"The work I assigned was based on contemporary movements. I felt my students were a part of that movement and had something to add. It is funny, but looking back on the work in my classes, some of it was very profound for anyone at any age. I guess that is why my program was nationally recognized."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Workshops with SCAPE - Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment

Based out of Santa Barbara, Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment was begun in 2002 and has grown to over 200 members, including plein air artists, students, patrons and even gallery owners. Their goal is not only to paint outdoors, exhibit and teach, but also to raise money and awareness for the preservation of open spaces. Their workshop calendar this year includes four prominent artists. Space is limited, so sign up right away.

Impressionist Lynn Gertenbach, whose painting is shown here, was a student of Sergei Bongart. Her workshop will be April 22-24 and will focus on wildflowers.

May 10-12, award-winning painter and published author Anita Hampton will run a workshop from 8a.m.-4p.m. in locations around Santa Barbara.

July 14-18, David Gallup, vice-president of the California Art Club, will teach a plein air to studio process. Students will be taught at their own level, based on their own goals.

September 19-21 (just a few days before the full moon) Thomas Van Stein will offer a workshop on Catalina Island that will include seascapes and painting by moonlight.