Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Waxahachie Workshop


"Waxahachie Lake View" 9x12, oil

This week, I'm teaching in Waxahachie, Texas, for the Ellis County Art Association. Waxahachie means "fat wildcat" in the Wichita language. I haven't seen any wildcats, fat or otherwise, here in this beautiful country. The town sits just south of Dallas, and is nicknamed "The Gingerbread City" for all the old Victorian homes here. The ECAA is a vigorous, vibrant group that keeps the local arts scene hopping.

It's a nice time of year to be here. A touch of autumn color is in the oaks, but you can still see roses blooming. The temperature has hit the mid-80s each day, but it's a "dry heat" as they say, and quite comfortable. In this three-day oil workshop, we've had the opportunity to paint a nice variety of subjects - rustic storefronts, barns and even lakes.

Some of the ECAA members are avid knife-painters, and they challenged me to do a little knife-painting. When I paint with a knife, I like to tone the canvas first. This time, however, I first used a brush to lay down a monochromatic underpainting in brown - something like a "bistre," but opaque rather than transparent. I did this to cover up the white of the gesso, which would be difficult to cover completely with a knife, and to establish a foundation of correct values. I used my knife to then apply color over this brown underpainting. Because using a knife is rather like frosting a cake, it didn't stir up this still-wet layer of brown. It kept the color clean.

The Sedona Plein Air Festival starts this Saturday. This will be my fifth year participating as one of 30 invited artists from across the US and Canada. I'm honored to be a part of this, and I'm very much looking forward to it. For more information, visit www.sedonapleinairfestival.com. I hope to see you there!

10 comments:

Gary Keimig said...

sounds as though you are enjoying this little piece of the world. Sounds like a great place to paint. This posted painting is very well done. Love the movement invoked in it.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, Gary!

mary pyche said...

I very much liked this piece, the looseness of it, and at first glance thought it was pastel. Thanks for the comments explaining the process with the knife technique. I'm thinking that the cross-training of being such a versatile artist in many mediums pays off.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thank you, Mary! Are you painting this fall? Trina and I drove through Mass. and thought we saw some really great color.

Max West said...

Nice use of complements with the orange hues in the foreground and the bluish hues in the background. That's the first thing I noticed.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thank you, Max!

martha wilcox said...

Michael,these gorgeous oil paintings make me long to get back to oil...the water effect is just beautiful! ..this was not too far from my home town.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, Martha! It's a pretty area...

Jo Castillo said...

Aww, Michael. You were so close and yet so far. One of these days I will get to meet you. This is a beautiful piece. I've been following you since you were in Raton, I think. Hmmm.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks, Jo!