Sunday, August 15, 2010

St Andrews Workshop

"Sunbury Shores" pastel sketch, 9x12

As many of you know, I just returned from the beautiful seaside resort town of St Andrews, New Brunswick, where I taught a weeklong plein air workshop for the Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre. This was my fifth year teaching in St Andrews. Although it's an exhausting five full days with a dozen students, it's relaxing, too. Because the cottage I rent has neither TV nor Internet, I spend my evenings going to the wharf for ice cream and then back home to read a novel or some of the half-dozen art books I lug along. (This year, Robert Ludlum won out over Emile Gruppé.)

We had some great locations to paint, but my favorite was Water Street, which is where all the shops and quaint buildings are. Normally, in early August, Water Street is thick with tourists and quite parked up. I wouldn't dream of dragging a dozen students out to paint street scenes there. This year, however, the town decided to replace a water main and cordoned off four blocks. Although many of the shopkeepers questioned the mayor's wisdom in doing this at the height of the tourist season, it turned Water Street into a pedestrian mall. I've always dreamed of having the group painting on Water Street, so I grabbed the opportunity. We had a wonderful day painting. At the top is the pastel demo I did of the Sunbury Shores building.

This year, some students requested a paint-along. I've done this only with my one-day classes for beginners, but I thought, why not? So, I found a location along the St Croix River that had not just a nice view but a huge picnic shelter that all of us could fit under. Everyone enjoyed this activity, where I stopped at each step to let them catch up. I found one drawback, however. Students were inclined to cease observing the landscape and to copy me instead. In a plein air paint-along, students should use the instructor's demonstration only as another reference, and not as the subject. I'll remember to mention this next time!



By the way, I've set up a "blog store." This is where I'll be selling small sketches and demonstration paintings - pieces I won't put in galleries. You can follow the link on the sidebar on the right or go to http://johnsonstudiostore.blogspot.com/

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