Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New Hampshire - Again!

I'm back in New Hampshire again, this time to teach a plein air workshop in the Lakes Region. Our home base is Moultonborough, right on Lake Winnepesaukee. Although the apple trees are just starting to bloom back on Campobello Island, here it seems that summer has arrived early. Birches are a full and deepening green, and the flower gardens of my host's home are beautiful with blooming rhododendron. Blackfly season seems to have passed, but the mosquitos swarm at dawn and dusk. Daylight hours are bite-free - perfect for outdoor painting!

On the first day of a workshop, I always like to stay close to home so I can gauge the level of my students. My host's home and "base camp" for the workshop is on Lee's Pond. This is a mill pond with a broad view of Sandwich Mountain up near Conway and a glimpse of Mount Chocura's sharp point. All day long, puffy clouds drifted over the mountain tops. I always like this kind of scene, full of horizontal bands. I stack clouds over mountains, mountains over trees, and trees over water. You can see this in the pastel demonstration I did:

"Lee's Pond" 9x12, pastel, en plein air

This one was painted on white Wallis Sanded Paper using my Heilman pastel box loaded with Polychromos pastels and Mount Vision pastels. I used a Turpenoid wash to scrub in my underpainting before finishing up with more pastel. (See the recent demo in my Backpacker Painting blog for an example of how this works:

For our second day, we went to Squam Lake. "On Golden Pond," the 1981 Oscar-winning film that starred Katherine Hepburn and the Fondas (Henry and Jane), was shot on the lake. For our adventure, the Squam Lake Association Resource Center in Holderness granted us permission to paint from their property. We had close views of boats, long views out of a cove toward the broad lake, and the occasional loon calling.

Rain was predicted for later in the day, so we thought we had plenty of time to work, even despite the rather threatening-looking clouds. I set up to do an oil demonstration first thing, but about 10 minutes into the painting, the rain began. Oil paint, of course, can stand a certain amount of rain, but it began to bead up heavily on my palette and on the painting itself, plus the students were getting quite wet. I finished the demonstration under the eaves of the SLA Center's porch.

"Rainy Day at Golden Pond" 8x10, oil, en plein air

For this demonstration, I showed how I use thin, transparent paint to create an underpainting and follow with more opaque layers. I didn't use any white in the first layer but saved it for the opaque passages. This is one of two methods I will talk about in the new book. Equipment used here was a 9x12 Guerrilla Painter box plus Gamblin paints, Turpenoid and Silver Brush Ltd. "Grand Prix" flats. My palette was a split-primary (Cad Yellow Lt, Cad Yellow Med, Cad Red Lt, Alizarin Crimson, Ultra Blue and Phthalo Blue.)

Wouldn't you know, but I was the only painter that day who had to deal with rain. Soon after I finished my demonstration, the clouds broke, the sun came out, and the day turned beautiful!

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