Friday, December 14, 2012

Workshop Week Wrap-Up - and More on Greys

View of the Rabbit Ears, 12x16, oil - available

Until last night, fall had been unseasonably warm and dry.  The last time it rained was in October.  The trails have been dusty, and the red dirt has been getting into shoes and socks, and my plein air backpack is stained with it.  This all changed when a major storm moved around midnight.  Snow stayed above 7000 feet, but we got plenty of rain down in the Verde Valley.  We are very glad for it.

We knew weather was coming, so we worked hard the first few days.  Usually, my Paint Sedona workshops run 9-1, giving students time in the afternoon to explore or paint on their own.  But this week, we pushed it.  We worked through lunch and beyond, taking advantage of the excellent weather.

I continued to play with the idea of starting off with a monochromatic underpainting, using Gamblin's Chromatic Black plus white.  It's not a technique I teach to students yet, so I'm exploring its feasibility.  I'm liking it quite a lot.  It really "nails" the shadows and darks right off.  But best, I think, is that it breaks down the initial block-in phase into two simple steps.  Figure out the values first, then figure out the colors.

Even I sometimes have trouble juggling value and color in the block-in.  But once you have the greys blocked in, you have something to test your color mixtures against.  You can tell in an instant if your mixture is too light or too dark by putting a little dab of it on the appropriate spot in the painting.

East view of Courthouse Butte, 9x12, oil - available

I've posted some of my week's work so you can see the results.  Some of these rock formations are ones I haven't painted much.  They are over near the Village of Oak Creek near Bell Rock, and I tend to avoid that area because of the volume of tourist traffic.

By the way, I'm getting some really good questions for my blog.  If you haven't sent yours in yet, please do!  You can comment on the blog, e-mail me, ask me on Facebook or send a tweet my way.  If you are so equipped, you may also send one telepathically.


Anonymous said...

re questions for blog
I am a reasonably good studio painter but haved failed miserably the several times I have attempted plein air. Do you have steps to work up to something even remotely successful for a plein air newbie??

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thanks for the question, Sandi! In the meantime, you might check out my Plein Air Essentials online class. I think it's what you're looking for. Here is the link:

jess Art said...

I have no experience with plein air painting. Your work is amazing and inspiring.!!