Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Hampshire Workshop - Day 1

When I taught this workshop a year ago, a nor'easter had rolled through New England, washing out bridges and delaying the spring. This year, however, spring is right on target. Here in Goffstown, just outside of Manchester, daffodils are up, the forsythia is out, and a fine red lace softens the profiles of maple and birch.

I took my eleven students into Dunbarton, which has a historic village center a few miles from here. What could be more scenic than its cemetery, dating from colonial times, and its white buildings? I positioned myself in front of the library, with a view of a red barn across the road, to do an oil demonstration. (I'm teaching both oil and pastel in this four-day workshop for New Hampshire Plein Air.)

Here's the painting, still in the paintbox. (Sorry about the bit of glare.) It's a simple piece, painted to illustrate the use of big shapes and uncluttered design. In front of the barn were two sugar maples and a utility pole, all of which I elected to leave out in my original design. At the end, though, I knew it needed a strong, vertical element. I mixed up a batch of utility-pole-colored paint, loaded my brush, and prepared to paint in the pole with pretty much one stroke. Just before I touched brush to panel, the students figured out what I was up to and gasped. "Oh, I couldn't do that," one said. I explained that one should never let the fear of ruining a painting beat the desire for improving it.

"Dunbarton Center"
8x10, oil, en plein air
Painted with Gamblin oil colors on Ampersand Gessobord;
Guerrilla Painter 9x12 Paint Box

For a spring day, it got mighty hot. I don't know exactly how hot, but the forecast had it at 84 degrees. To stay out of the sun, most of us crowded into the shade of the library to paint more scenes from Dunbarton.

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