Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ray Roberts Workshop - Day 3

Cooler temperature and high winds today forced us to seek more sheltered areas. Our first stop was the marina at Saguaro Lake, where I found a spot with a nice view of boats and the volcanic tuff cliffs reaching high above the reservoir's dam. I found it ironic that I'd travelled over 3000 miles from the harbours of the Canadian Maritimes to paint boats in Arizona! The irony was short-lived, however, as the management politely asked us to leave. It turned out the marina was private property.
Our group drove off to the public picnic grounds about a mile away. The distance rendered the boats into a small, colourful smear at the far edge of the lake -- too far, obviously, to continue what I'd started. I wiped out my 30-minute underpainting. Since I'd already spent considerable mental energy in capturing the nooks and crannies of docks, I wanted to try something broad and simple. My eye went immediately to the wonderful clouds that dwarfed those towering cliffs.

Ray liked this painting. He made no corrections but suggested that I modify the pattern of light in the water to support the eye's movement to the center of interest, which I did.
A few of us had a quick lunch with Ray. One student asked Ray about how to get into galleries. Ray said that, because he had a family to feed, he started off doing outdoor fairs. "Not only did I sell a lot, I also got to keep all the money." Galleries found him through these fairs. We also asked him about plein air festivals. "They're a lot of work and expensive to attend, but I really enjoy meeting up with old friends."
After lunch, we went back to the picnic ground. The cliffs that rise up right over the parking lot are plastered with lichen of many colours -- lime green, burnt orange, mustard yellow. The clouds had been building all day, and now the fleeting light made for some very dramatic scenes. I picked out one good rock to paint. I was so focussed on colour and value, I forgot the basic rule of composition and put my center of interest smack dab in the middle. Ray noted this and suggested cropping the painting. I've included the full original here plus two alternate croppings, either which is an improvement over the uncropped piece.

Ray also wanted me to improve the contrast between lights and darks and to increase the drama of by lowering the value of the entire painting except the center of interest. This was not the way the scene was, but these artistic enhancements helped a great deal. I was having some trouble with the water -- the water was wind-tossed and rough, which I rendered quite well, but the land didn't sit on it properly. Ray smoothed out the water and added some reflections, which unified the land and water nicely.



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