Saturday, May 9, 2015

Workshop in Gig Harbor, Washington, and Judging a Show


Massive Mount Rainier
from Gig Harbor

I was excited when the Northwest Pastel Society invited me to visit Gig Harbor and Tacoma, Washington, to judge its annual international open exhibition and to teach a workshop. Besides the fact that the NPS is a well-respected group and it is an honor to be asked by them, I've always wanted to visit the Pacific Northwest. 

For the workshop, I flew from Albuquerque to SeaTac, where I was picked up and taken to my host's home in Gig Harbor. Donna is a wonderful host and also an excellent painter and teacher of art; she's  been teaching painting privately for over 25 years.  She also has a well-stocked studio in which these workshops are held and a vast library of art books. It was a real joy to stay with someone who appreciates art so much.

I got in a day early, so I was invited to participate in the weekly figure drop-in session.  My schedule doesn't allow me to work from the model very often, so I jumped at the chance.  For four hours, we worked with Caylin, who was a wonderful model.  Here's one of my sketches.



The workshop lasted three days, and although it was sponsored by a pastel society, I was asked to include oil, and also to mix in a little plein air with studio work, weather permitting. They don't grow those hundred-foot Douglas firs in the Pacific Northwest without a lot of rain, so no one was really sure what the weather would be like. About a week before the workshop, the forecast had been rather gloomy. But luckily, only our first day had intermittent showers, which was followed by two days of glorious sunshine. The weather ended up being much better than anyone expected, so we were able to get out and enjoy the sun.

In the Studio

In the Field
Painting among the Rhododendrons

I had a really good group for the workshop. Several were pastelists who were also closet oil painters and "came out" at the workshop. Everyone was eager to learn and had a great time, whether I was demonstrating in pastel or oil or whether we were in the studio or out. Two of the students also stayed with my host, and we enjoyed communal meals and evening "art talk" together.

Here are some demonstration sketches from the workshop:

Quiet Marsh 9x12 pastel

Gig Harbor, Low Tide 12x9 oil - SOLD

Morning Light among the Firs, 9x12 oil/knife

Thursday afternoon I was taken over to The American Art Company to judge the show. Earlier in the spring, I had selected 71 pieces to be in the exhibition, doing so on the computer. Paintings always look different - and, one hopes, better - when seen in person.  (You can apply this rule to the photos of my sketches above.)  When I walked into the gallery, I was very happy to see what a beautiful, cohesive show it was. The gallery owner had done a wonderful job hanging it, and the paintings themselves were beautiful. It took me a long time to go through them all to select thirteen for awards.  Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who made it into the show!  In my next post, I will elaborate on my judging process.

The workshop ended on Friday.  The reception and awards presentation for the exhibit will be Saturday afternoon, after which I fly back to Albuquerque on Sunday so we can resume our trip east.

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