Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Springfield Pastel Workshop - Monday

When Springfield Area Pastelists (SAP) invited me to teach a weeklong workshop in late March, we had hoped that the weather might cooperate for a little plein air painting. But early spring weather is fickle, and when I arrived on Saturday, flurries were spinning down in the capital city of Illinois. By Sunday, the flurries had changed to snow squalls. Big, sloppy flakes decorated my coat as I took an evening walk.

On Monday morning, the sun burst out of the clouds. Still a bit cool, the weather kept us indoors. This isn't a bad thing on the first day of a workshop; there's much to cover before we put down even the first pastel stroke. Later in the week, though, I hope to do one demonstration outdoors. The facilities of the Springfield Art Association (SAA), which is where the workshop is being held, include a beautifully treed sculpture garden and several historic buildings, all great material for painting. For students wanting to brave an Illinois spring, they can paint right outside our studio while the others work indoors. The studio will be waiting for them should the snow squalls return.

Here are a couple of photos from Monday. The SAA studio has a new set of north-facing windows, which shed a generous and even light on the space.

Although my students are all experienced pastelists, I like to cover the basics in the first day: my essential palette, my underpainting technique and, of course, the Importance of Values. (I won't rehash these here, since I've discussed them in earlier blog entries. Besides, I'll elaborate upon them in my new book, Backpacker Painting. I don't want to give away all my secrets!) After a short demonstration in the morning, I let students work in the afternoon.

This is the first pastel workshop I've flown out for. Usually I drive so I can carry the whole kit'n'kaboodle. This time, I had to pack carefully and lightly. I was very pleased to have the new Heilman Backpack Pastel Box. It carries my entire set of NuPastels, plus a set of sepia Pastels Carré and three dozen half-stick Senneliers. I even had room left over for a fistful of pastel pencils.

I took this box as carry-on luggage. I'd heard tales of how airport security sees pastels under x-ray as suspicious objects. Perhaps so, but in the two security checks I had to pass through to get to Springfield, not one person asked to open the box.

Here's the box in action today:

Forecasters predict a good day for Tuesday, so maybe I'll get to do an outdoor demonstration in the sculpture garden. If not, we've got plenty of photos to paint from - and great view out the window for painting de la fenĂȘtre.

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