Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sarasota Workshop - Day 2

On our second day, the workshop went out to Myakka River State Park. Myakka is a long, winding river fed by surrounding wetlands. The park road offers many pull-offs with broad vistas of the river, as well as parking areas for the trails, which wind through thickets of live oak and cabbage palms. We stopped on a bridge to paint one of the vistas and to explore the possibilities of designing with simple shapes -- horizontal bands of water and marsh broken by the vertical shapes of trees. Alligators lumbered out of the water to sun themselves on the riverbank and to keep a close eye on us.

After a lunch stop at the park's concession, we wandered into the woods to paint. In a park that is known for encounters with alligators and wild boars, this was a safe area to be in. The only danger was from the hundreds of vultures, perching in the live oaks overhead. A brochure in the park recommends that you cover your car with a sheet to deter the vultures, who in their spare time enjoy playing with the rubber in your windshield wipers. (I've been into the park twice now, but I haven't yet seen this odd activity. That's a good thing, because I'm not in the habit of carrying a bedsheet in the car.)

In the photo below, Pat LaBrecque, our workshop host, paints some of the vultures. Waiting patiently on a tree limb for us to expire, they make excellent subjects. By the way, she's using an "Art Cocoon" (, a product she's designed to make life a little easier for outdoor painters.

I demonstrated how starting a painting with a monochromatic underpainting can help you keep your values true from start to finish. Once the underpainting is done, it's important that the succeeding layers of paint match precisely the values you have already established. A dark area of grass, for example, underpainted with brown, must be overpainted with green of the same dark value.

Here's my palm tree painting. I underpainted with a brown made from Cadmium Red Light and Ultramarine Blue.

"Myakka Palms"
7x6, oil

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