Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Albert Handell Mentoring Program: Day 3, Rocks!

In the Canyon

Tuesday morning, we headed back to Indian Canyons. This park has such varied subject matter that we will most likely spend the week there - and gladly.

Albert started us off by painting rocks in what has become his signature style. That is, the drawing is honest and true, the design is intimate and strong, and the colors are "pushed" to harmonize beautifully. Unlike his demonstrations, this was a full painting in pastel, from start to finish. By the way, although I haven't seen the movie, I am told that this particular rock was the setting for Disney's "The Lion King."

Albert's view of the "Lion King" rock

By the way, for the mentoring program, Albert invites participants to set up next to him and paint along. Several of us did so, including me. I kept one ear cocked, though, and listened to his narration as I worked.  Here's my piece:

Lion King Setting 12x18 pastel (on Canson Mi-Teintes "Touch" paper)
I continued to work in pastel today because I was having so much fun drawing!

Albert finished this painting quickly to his satisfaction (and to ours), leaving plenty of time for us to finish up. Afterward, we met for lunch within a circle of palm trees that gave us full shade. Albert critiqued the work we had done thus far, and we also talked about the business of art. I'd given him a copy of my new portfolio, "Artist as Steward of the Land," and he asked me to discuss how I published it. We also talked about photography and other related topics.

Lunchtime critiques
By 2 pm, the light, which is often flat and washed out at noon, was getting good again. We headed over to the West Fork trail head to paint down by the waterfall. Many of the massive boulders in the narrow canyon behind the trading post are coated in dried mud; they looked like a rather bad sprayed stucco job on adobe. Although this indicated a recent flash flood, the waterfall had dwindled to something that might come out of your average garden hose. Still, there was plenty to paint. I managed to find a shaded spot and painted an intimate, somewhat abstract view of the upper reaches of the waterfall. Here's the painting:

West Fork Falls 9x12 pastel on Wallis paper
Can you find the waterfallf?
When Albert came around to visit, he really liked this piece and praised it. His only suggestion was to soften the upper left corner, since the detail I'd put there wasn't important to the painting..

Albert has given me lots of good advice this week. For this workshop, he's telling me I need to add darker darks and lighter lights for more contrast, and to use richer color. I do know this, but sometimes you need a master's eye to tell you just how far to push it. The paintings you see have all been tweaked with this advice in mind.

We met again in the evening at Sherman's Deli for dinner and talk. We have a standing reservation there this week. It's easy to find, there's plenty of parking, and the kitchen and wait staff are quick. Even when packed, the food arrives before you expect it and the bill is soon to follow. They like to turn tables - but yet you won't be rushed if you want to talk.

I should respond to a reader who asked for more detail on Albert's transparent underpainting for oil. Basically, the paint is scrubbed on in a dry fashion with little or no medium and a brush; even opaque paint will have a transparent quality with this approach. The method also "fixes" the paint in place so that thicker paint can be brushed over it successfully without muddying. This and other techniques are explained fully in Albert's early book, Oil Painting Workshop, which you can still find at Amazon.

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