Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 7, Continued

"Sycamore Days" 9x12, oil

Artists gathered on the banks of Oak Creek at the L'Auberge de Sedona resort for the morning's Quick Draw. It was cool, and some of the artists, especially those from California and warmer climes, put on their heaviest coats. But the sun warmed things up quickly, and when the starting time of 10 a.m. rolled around, the weather was quite pleasant and drew out the visitors. People were curious and kind, asking a few questions but mostly keeping their distance with the understanding that this was a timed event. The most critical of the spectators was a flock of ducks that L'Auberge maintains.

I painted the same sycamore that I did last year. I felt last year's wasn't up to par, so I wanted to make another stab at it. I must have succeeded, because the painting sold at the Patron's Gala. Above is the painting (9x12, oil) and below, a few shots of the other artists painting. I took a break toward the end of my session so I could see what the others were up to. Scott Prior had set up next to me and painted the same sycamore. Most, like us, had set up along the creek. At the Gala that evening, I counted six paintings featuring sycamores. I'll admit, they're an attractive tree!

Brian Stewart

Scott Prior

Carolyn Hesse-Lowe (lt); Lorie Merfeld-Batson (rt)

William Wray

Brian Stewart (lt); Raleigh Kinney (rt)

Joe Garcia

After turning in our paintings, a few of us headed off for lunch at Oaxaca, a Mexican restaurant uptown. Along with Scott and me, we had Jill Carver, Joshua Been and his family, plus Cody DeLong and Bill Cramer. After lunch, some went off painting again even though the Festival was basically over - a true sign of a dedicated painter - while at least one went home for a nap. I went out looking at real estate.

At 5 p.m., artists reconvened at the L'Auberge ballroom to vote for the Artist's Choice award. The public arrived at 6, and then the party began. Several awards were given out to deserving artists. (I didn't win anything, but I was happy my Quick Draw sold.) Below are a few photos of the event. The room looks pretty packed - and it was.




Now the public sale begins. If you're in town, please stop by. I'll be at the Sedona Arts Center from 10-5 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday. Time permitting, I may even be out on the campus doing a little painting!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 7

As I mentioned before, I spent yesterday adjusting my paintings and framing. "Adjusting" consists of putting the unframed painting up on the easel and looking at it for a bit. Sometimes nothing is needed; sometimes the painting would benefit from a few extra strokes. I may add darker accents, correct some highlights, smooth out a brush stroke or two - minor stuff. If I had to put a percentage on it, I'd say that at least 95% of the painting is done entirely in the field. I know of very few artists who never touch a painting once it comes indoors.

For the festival, I painted a total of 10 pieces, not including today's Quick Draw piece. Six of these made it into the show. The other four I deemed needing more work than I wanted to put into them. They've been stuck in a box awaiting future consideration - they'll either be adjusted or recycled. For the six that made the cut, I had to give them a number from one to six, with one being, in my mind, the best. (A very tough and somewhat arbitrary decision, once you've picked the six that deserve frames.) The staff will take my top three and put them in the Patron's Gala tonight; the other three will serve as backups as the top three sell.

I delivered the paintings to the Festival last night - what a relief! On your first day, you always wonder if you'll even paint three good ones, much less have ones good enough to serve as backups. I'm happy with the paintings I did this week. Now I'm getting ready for the Quick Draw event. The 30 artists will converge on L'Auberge de Sedona along Oak Creek this morning. A 10 a.m., a virtual gun will go off and the artists will start. We'll paint furiously until noon, and then we must frame and deliver the wet pieces to the ballroom by 1 pm. The public is, of course, invited to the Quick Draw.

The Patron's Gala starts tonight at 6. Tickets are $125 each. This is your chance to get first pick at the paintings, and to experience some really good food courtesy of L'Auberge de Sedona! Awards will be given out then, too. The Gala is at L'Auberge, down by Oak Creek. If you don't make the Gala, paintings that don't sell will be at the Public Sale, which runs Saturday (10-6) and Sunday (10-3). The Public Sale is at the Sedona Arts Center. I hope to see you at one place or the other!

Here are my six, framed, and then are closeups of each, from #1 to #6.



#1: "Moon Over Sedona" 9x12, oil

#2: "Edge of Ruin (La Victoria)" 12x16, oil

#3: "Red Rock Sycamore" 16x12, oil

#4: "Secret Canyon" 12x16, oil

#5: "Road to Mingus" 12x16, oil

#6: "Snow Over Jerome" 9x12, oil

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 5, Continued

I promised I'd take a picture of the last painting I did in Jerome as the snow came down. After toning the canvas with a light wash of blue in the sky and orange in the foreground, I went right in with the knife. I needed to speed things along, as a snow squall was moving in. This morning, I spent some time making adjustments. This is on a Raymar canvas panel, 9x12.

Last night, William Scott Jennings, a master at painting mountains and canyons, gave the keynote lecture at the Sedona Arts Center for the Festival. The topic was "From Plein Air to Studio." It was probably one of the most informative talks I've heard. Scott's an excellent painter and teacher, and I enjoyed listening to him. It was a multi-media experience - a slide show ran behind him as he spoke, and we also got to see some plein air pieces and larger, studio pieces first-hand. (See http://wsjennings.com for his paintings.)

Typically, he paints small in the field - 8x10, 9x12 - with the intention of gathering reference material for the studio. Rather than create finished paintings, he studies light and color. Rather than try to capture the entire length of a mountain range with all the detail, he paints just a small section. This will have enough information in it so that, supplemented with photos, he can create the whole range on a much larger canvas. Studio pieces typically run six or eight feet long, and he can finish such a painting in about three weeks.

Like most plein air painters, when he paints the field studies, he works quickly, eliminates as much detail as possible and keeps to large shapes. For each shape, he mixes what he sees as the average color and value. Then, he permits himself to "model" each shape by adding two more values, each a half-step from the original. Each of these new values must also be a different color. So, if the shape is a dark purple, he'll add perhaps a slightly lighter green and a slightly darker red. (Not his example, but mine. I'm not sure if he shifts the color in a color-wheel sense or chooses random color.)

I'd always wondered how someone paints a really big studio piece. Scott actually starts with a grisaille. After outlining the paintings few large masses, he blocks in the shapes with grey values and a brush. The early stages of the step-by-step progressions he showed us had only two or three values and very strong designs. This greyscale underpainting serves as a roadmap and keeps him from getting lost in the design. Next, he moves to color, applying paint almost exclusively with a knife and making sure to make his color mixtures match the greys in value. He says the knife automatically creates suggested detail through "random accidents" with the paint, something almost impossible to do with a brush. He also likes to build up the paint into impasto as he works the foreground, increasing the sense of distance in the painting. In addition, whereas in field sketches he limits himself to three values in a shape, in the studio piece he'll expand this to as many values as needed to model a shape.

Scott also addressed how to develop a style. Rather than try to change your natural tendency to handle brush and paint in a certain way, it's more effective to change your materials. For example, a knife will give you a much different style than a brush, as will working on smooth panels instead of stretched linen. In developing your own style, he says, it's helpful to analyze a style you admire as a product of the materials used. As an example, he pointed out how his work has changed since he started using a knife for the large paintings.

As I said, it was a wonderful lecture. Maybe Scott is working on a book.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 5

Dawn came with clear skies. Where was the predicted snow? After a hike up Sugar Loaf, I drove down to Jerome for our "Day in Jerome." To entice the artists, the local restaurants were offering us free lunch, and the town, coffee and snack goodies. The coffee was especially welcome - the temperature was barely tickling 40, and the wind was gusting. Some of us regretted not bringing gloves, hats and heavy coats. Fortunately, I'd brought a wool cap, my glomitts and a down vest. But my view required that I work in the cold shade rather than the warm sun, and I regretted not putting on my long underwear!

I painted one of the several bordellos in this old mining town. (For those of you who don't know Jerome, it is built on a 30-degree slope, and at one time it sported 13 hotels, 21 bars and 8 bordellos.) "La Victoria" had a store on the first floor and rooms on the second. Today, it's a beautiful ruin with a glass studio out back. (http://rakugallery.net/LaVictoriaGlass.asp)

"La Victoria" 12x16, oil (not finished - tweaks to follow)

While I painted, clouds swept in, and by the time I finished, the sun was gone. The wind threw a snowflakes across my palette. I packed up and found other artists packing up, too. The skies did look threatening. Several of us headed to the Mile High Grill for lunch. Here's a photo. From left to right: Ken DeWaard, Carolyn Hesse-Lowe, Scott Prior (behind Carolyn), Bill Cramer, Jill Carver, Joshua Been, Cody DeLong.

After lunch, it looked like the snow was going to pass. I headed down the street to set up my gear, and ran across Jill Carver, who was back at work on the piece she'd started before lunch. She'd very trustingly left it up on the easel while we ate. Here's Jill in her winter outfit, plus a photo of the painting. She continued to work on this beautiful piece after I left, and I'm eager to see it in the show.


I had just enough time to do an 8x10 oil before the snow really started coming down. I knew I didn't have long, so I used a palette knife, which made the work go much faster. As I write at home this evening, the light has gone, so I'll take a photo of it tomorrow. Tomorrow is my "tweak and framing" day. I have to everything done - tweaked and framed - and delivered by 6 p.m.!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 4

Morning came early with a 7 a.m. breakfast provided for the artists at the Sedona Heritage Museum. Since it was only 41 degrees, I chose to take an hour for breakfast and coffee. By 8, though, the sun had risen and things were heating up. I chose to do a vista of Ship Rock from an angle different from what I did the other day. Clouds began to spill in, and by the time I'd finished, the nice highlights on the rocks had vanished. Fortunately, I spent most of my time working on the peaks and captured the effect.

I was a little puzzled as to what to do with the foreground. I wanted it soft and fuzzy so as to not detract from the sunlit peaks, but I didn't want it to be so soft and fuzzy that it looked like a three-week old peach. My friend Betty Carr (www.bettycarrfineart.com) set up her easel beside me, and I asked her advice. Betty's a teacher, too. "Betty," I asked, "if this were your painting, what would you do next?"

She liked the painting very much and was at the brink of saying "Nothing." But then the foreground caught her attention. One of the trees made an unfortunate tangent with a bit of light on the main sunlit peak, and she suggested I move it left. I did, but I can see now that I did so without success. So, this one will need some work still during my "tweaking" period.

After lunch, I watched Clark Mitchell (www.cgmitchell.com) give a pastel demo, and then I went over to Windrush Gallery (www.windrushgallery.net) to do a demo for John McCullough. The sun had totally vanished by then, the wind was gusting, but I did a nice little piece with a theme heavy in the violets and cool greens. I'll try to get a photo of that tomorrow.

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 3

In anticipation of the wind that we're supposed to get on Tuesday and the possible snow on Wednesday, I think everyone pushed themselves today to get a lot done. I did three paintings. First, just after dawn I headed up to the end of Jordan Road and did a small painting of Ship Rock. After a short break at Pink Java (coffee and danish with panoramic views of red rocks to infinity), I went to the Arts Center to give a demonstration. Both of these paintings were 9x12. Finally, after a lunch event in which we met with the M. Graham reps, who gave each artist a goodie box of free paint, I headed down to Red Rock Crossing. It was getting hot, and I thought it'd be cool down by the water. Well, it wasn't. So, I literally turned my back on the water and discovered this beautiful sycamore tree in the shade. I turned it into a 12x16.


I then headed home to freshen up for the Artists' Reception and the opening of the Showcase Gallery. Each artist brought a few paintings, either plein air or studio, to hang in this gallery, which will be up all week so the public can see samples of our work. I finally got to meet William Wray, an artist from California whose "urban blight" paintings I really admire. (www.williamwray.com).

So far this week, as each painting comes off the easel, I've been putting it right into the box, out of sight, out of mind. I have yet to critique them to see what adjustments need to be made. This is an essential part, in my mind, of the plein air process - reflection. But I have to invoke the right state of mind for this, a state of mind that can be created only by quiet and a cup of coffee. I'll do this on one of the bad weather days. If a painting needs a few tweaks, I have no compunctions against doing that in the studio.

By the way, tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2 pm is my painting demonstration at my Sedona gallery, the Windrush Gallery. It is in the Garland Building at the end of the bridge on 179, just past the Tlaquepaque plaza. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 2

While Trina was home mopping up after the 4 inches of rain that fell Saturday on Campobello, I was out painting at one of my favorite spots here in Sedona. (Yes, she does wish she could be here instead!) Doe Mesa and the area around it is what I consider a "rich painting spot." You can paint a lot of paintings there, and I have.

I had a cloudy start to the day. Sometimes with these clouds, the sun will play hide-and-seek with the hills and play havoc with your painting. Fortunately, the lighting stayed consistent. The middle ground stayed sunlit while the nearby red cliff and the distant blue mesa stayed in near-shadow. I painted this first piece from 300 paces up the trail to Doe Mesa.

"Road to Mingus"
12x16, oil

Later in the day, I caught up with Bill Cramer of Prescott. We drove out on the Vultree Arch road. This is a rough Forest Service road, and Bill kindly offered to drive in with his Honda CRV. We hit bottom a couple of times and ran into brush more than once, giving the CRV what Bill calls "Arizona pinstripes." (See Bill's site at www.billcramerpaintings.com.) Bill has rigged up the CRV with a platform on top that he can paint from. This allows him to get a view over the tree tops. How does he get up there? Bill's a rock climber, and it poses no problem for him. Here's Bill painting his scene.

I painted a slightly different view, since I had to keep both my feet on the ground. The light got better and better as the afternoon wore on. On the way home, near sunset, we stopped several times to gawk at the amazing light on the rocks.

"Secret Canyon"
12x16, oil

Just as a reminder, tomorrow is my oil demonstration at the Sedona Arts Center from 11-1. See you there!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 1, Continued

Another sunny, warm day in Sedona - just perfect for our first day of painting. After meeting the other 29 artists, we all headed out to Main Street to paint for the public. The Main Street businesses are a major supporter for the Sedona Plein Air Festival, so our first event was scheduled within a three- or four-block area of Uptown from 2:30 to 5.

The sun was intense, so four of us - Raleigh Kinney, David Haskell, Sara Lindy Poly and myself - sought shade. We found a nearly empty parking lot on the shaded side of the three-story Best Western. And it was a parking lot with a view! Life was good. We set up at the edge of the pavement by the lawn.



As I said, Life was good. But then the automatic sprinkler system went off. You'd think they'd have an alarm bell to give us a 10-second warning. Even though we were set up on pavement, we were just close enough to get sprayed.

I usually don't like to put manicured lawns and non-native trees in my paintings, but I did here. The scene I chose needed a vertical element, and the cypresses were perfect. The lawn added an element of intense color. I was pretty pleased with this first painting, especially considering that I was not just painting but also talking with visitors and moving my gear now and then to avoid the lawn sprinklers! (And can you see the crescent moon in the painting?)

"Moon over Sedona"
9x12, oil

Sedona Plein Air Festival - Day 1

It's mighty pleasant in Sedona - 76 degrees and sunny. I took a hike down at Crescent Moon Ranch last night to begin exploring some painting spots for the Sedona Plein Air Festival. One of my favorite spots, rich with possibilities, is Red Rock Crossing. The view of Cathedral Rock is, of course, iconic. You'll see something very much like my photograph on all the tourist literature. Perhaps such an over-photographed and over-painted scene might be best left to postcard painters. But if you pull your eye away from that monument and look elsewhere, you'll find lots of very good, less-anticipated scenes, especially down along the water's edge where cottonwood and willow meet the eroded red rock banks. I'm excited by the week's possibilities!

Today, Saturday, is our first day. The 30 artists will meet this morning at the Sedona Arts Center to get canvases stamped. We'll also pick up maps, seek advice from the old-timers, and talk about the week ahead. Although the artists will have lots of time to paint this week, there are many events for us, some mandatory, some optional. One must-attend event today is the Paintout on Main Street. We'll be up on Main Street from 2:30 till 5. Look for the event tent next to the Joe Beeler statute. The coordinators there will know where I am. (Artists are supposed to paint on Main Street between the Arts Center and Ravenheart Coffee.)

If you're in the area for the week, you might be interested in a couple of other events I'm involved with. These are:
  • Monday, 11-1 - I'll be giving a public oil painting demonstration at the Sedona Arts Center.
  • Tuesday, 2 pm - I'll be giving another demonstration at my gallery, the Windrush Gallery. Windrush is located just past Tlaquepaque, at the end of the bridge at 422 Hwy 179.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stormy Autumn

I am now down to the final days before heading off to Sedona for the Sedona Plein Air Festival (www.sedonapleinairfestival.com). Besides tying up loose ends, I'll be going through my painting gear to see what I absolutely must take, and what I can leave behind. What with today's air travel restrictions, the less luggage I can tote, the better. I dream of someday flying unecumbered with nothing more than the shirt on my back!

A few days ago, I took some local students out on a one-day painting adventure. Rain never seemed far off, but they braved the raw wind to paint. On the lee side of the island, I found a sheltered nook near the Upper Duck Pond where we could paint. I did the following demo in pastel. Bad weather aside, it was a beautiful day for clouds!

"Storm Clouds" 5x7, pastel
By the way, if you still haven't ordered my books or calendar (new!), you can save 10% by entering the coupon code "FALLREAD" at checkout. Go to http://stores.lulu.com/miragenm. (Offer doesn't apply to the DVDs.)

My next post most likely will be from Sedona. See you then!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The 2010 Calendar is Here!


The first copy of my new 2010 calendar just arrived! I'm very pleased with the quality of the paper and the reproductions - thick, glossy paper and rich, colorful images. I've chosen 12 from this past year that reflect my travels. You'll see images of Sedona in the winter and then Campobello Island for the rest of the year. I think you'll enjoy each month. Friends and family might like it for Christmas, too!


The calendar is $18 plus shipping. To order or see a preview of the calendar, please visit my Lulu store: http://stores.lulu.com/miragenm.

(Also, please don't forget my annual fall pastel sale, which is still going on. You can see the pastels that are still available at: http://www.michaelchesleyjohnson.com/holiday_sale/holiday.htm.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Beach in Autumn

In the fall, those of us who live along the coast enjoy something very special. It's the grasses that inhabit the intertidal zone. Deep green in summer, these grasses in autumn turn into a rainbow.

At the east end of Campobello Island, near the Upper Duck Pond clam flats, there's a gorgeous swath of these grasses. At low tide, the water goes out for what seems a mile. When I was out for a hike there yesterday, I saw lots and lots of red in the grasses. I decided to go back and paint them. Once I got out there, though, the more I looked, the more color I saw. How many colors can you see in this little painting?

"The Grasses of Autumn"
5x7 oil - SOLD

Here's a detail shot:


I have a little over a week before I fly out to Sedona for the Plein Air Festival. One of my goals in painting today was to use up the paint on my palette. I need to clean it off, wash out the brushes and dredge out the turps can before I leave. I want the brushes and the turps can completely dry before I pack them up in my luggage. So, tomorrow I'll switch to a medium that won't require either those brushes or the turps can - water-miscible oils.

By the way, don't forget my fall pastel sale. I still have a few left. Go here to see them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michael's Annual Fall Sale

It's that time of year again! I create lots of 5x7 pastels during the course of a year, and they do tend to pile up. Every fall I like to go through and pick out the best and offer them for sale. This year, I've selected 20. They cover my entire travel year, from Sedona to Campobello Island with a few stops in between.

I usually sell these unframed for $60 a piece, but I'm offering them for $50 each plus $5 shipping. If you purchase more than one, I'll adjust shipping since I can put several in a box.

These 5x7s fit perfectly in the window of a pre-cut 8x10 mat. All you need is the mat and backing, some tape, and a glass 8x10 frame. It's exactly how I frame them!


By the way, I played with PayPal's inventory feature when creating my "Add to Cart" buttons. This is a relatively new thing, and I'm happy to see it. So, you'll know right away if a painting has already been sold!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vermont Pastel Society - Demonstration


"Ramah Lake" 12x18, pastel


Just before we headed home from Vermont last Sunday, I gave a demonstration to the Vermont Pastel Society at its annual meeting. Since my presentation on underpainting with a "grisaille" was such a hit at the IAPS convention last May, I decided to do it again, but with a different image. We had a great turnout.

Just to refresh your memory, a traditional grisaille is an oil underpainting done in monochrome, usually in shades of grey, over which are applied transparent glazes of color. The purpose is to establish the design and value first, and to then "color" the design with the glazes. Pastel, of course, is an opaque medium, so a pastel grisaille doesn't quite work in the usual way. Instead, the underpainting serves as a map for the color that is applied later. Whatever color of pastel you apply, it must closely match the value of the area it's being applied to. In order to keep the greys from mixing up with the color, I use alcohol applied with a brush to "fix" the greys in place.

For my demonstration, I used a photo of the "wedding cake" bluff that rises out of Ramah Lake in Ramah, New Mexico. I created a greyscale version of the photo in Photoshop and did my block-in by following it. Below are both photos. The painting is on Wallis paper, and I used both Polychromos, Mount Vision, Sennelier and Unison pastels. When I got home, I spent a couple of hours finishing the painting.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Artist's Magazine - Feature Article


I'm proud to announce that my article, "Plein Air with a Purpose: 3 Goals for Maximum Results," is one of the features in the November 2009 issue of The Artist's Magazine. I don't normally announce my articles in this blog, since I write regularly for both TAM and The Pastel Journal, but this article features a topic particularly near and dear to me, outdoor painting. In it, I recommend that you go out not necessarily to create a finished painting but with one of three goals. Going out to create gallery-quality work is the surest way to freeze up and develop "painter's block"!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vermont Workshop, Day 3 - Simplifying Foliage

For our last day, we had - rain! But the nice thing about rain is that it really makes the colorful foliage "pop." During a brief pause in the precipitation, we went out so I could demonstrate how I paint that foliage.

Before starting my 5x7 oil sketch, I mentally abstracted my scene into large shapes and determined the average value and color of each. As always, I stuck to four values. Next, I used my painting knife to mix up four mounds of paint. Each mound was a unique value (dark, mid-dark, mid-light and light) and color (three foliage colors plus the sky color.) Pre-mixing your values in this way helps you maintain a separation of values and thus the integrity of your design. Using my brush, I quickly dabbed in the darks where I saw them, followed by the mid-darks, mid-lights and finally the lights. As a final tweak, I added some pure Cadmium Yellow Deep where I thought the foliage was the most intense. This painting took about 10 minutes.

The next day, Trina and I were off to Montpelier, Vermont, where I was to give a demonstration for the annual meeting of the Vermont Pastel Society. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vermont Workshop, Day 2 - Sun on the Hills

The wi-fi connection was down at the Bailey & Burke market yesterday, so I'm posting Day Two of our Vermont workshop a day late. This was a gorgeous fall day filled with peek-a-boo sun and shadows racing over the hills. We went up Darling Hill Road, which is in my opinion the best road in Vermont for seeing fall foliage, and parked near the Kingdom Trails trailhead. This trailhead is next to the Inn at Mountain View, which was once an old farm. It's got some wonderful barns that I've enjoyed painting, but I wanted to show the students how to paint the sunshine playing across Burke Mountain.

The trick with depicting sun and shadow on hills is in controlling the contrast of light and dark. We are so pulled in by the brilliant patches of sunlight that they seem brighter than they are. But if you paint them too bright, they will merge with the bright sky and no longer seem to be part of the hill. Also, watch the color temperature. Although there were some rich spots of foliage, they were cooler in temperature than sunlit trees closer by. As you can see in my demonstration, these were more of a red-violet than red or orange. To further enhance the light on the hills, I kept the foreground dark and mysterious. (9x12, pastel)

This morning, we're heading off to Montpelier, where I am giving a demonstration to the Vermont Pastel Society. After that, we'll head to Jackson, New Hampshire, for the night, and then to Campobello Island on Monday. Look for our third and final day of the Vermont workshop once we get home.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vermont Workshop, Day 1 - Shapes

We're now in Burke, deep in the heart of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. You never know how your "leaf peeping" plans will go, since peak foliage color can sometimes fall a week earlier or later than you expect. This year, however, we hit it right on. I'd say we're pretty close to peak here. On this 115-acre family compound that we've rented for the workshop, many of the sugar maples are bedecked with crimson and gold.

Although it's uncommon to have temperatures so low that they are just nudging 40, that's what happened today. A cold front whipped through last night, even leaving a dusting of snow atop Burke Mountain. Our students braved the cold to paint the foliage, fortified by coffee and tea and a pot of steaming corn chowder Trina cooked up for lunch. I didn't think I'd need my down parka, but I'm glad I brought it!


Today we talked about simplifying the scene into big shapes, and painting the scene by adjusting shape relationships. By shape relationships, I mean whether a shape is lighter or darker, cooler or warmer, or a slightly different hue than another. By adjusting value, color and temperature relationships, the painting nearly paints itself. (Of course, you have to get the shapes of the shapes right, too!)

Here are two demonstrations I did, both in oil. The first (9x12) shows Burke Mountain and the second (7x5), a little pond by our lodge.