Friday, December 4, 2009

Sarasota Plein Air Workshop - Day 5

"Rainy Day Crotons" 12x9, pastel

The rain finally came, and in buckets, but not until we had a couple of hours painting in the resort. We secured a room for back-up in case it rained, and then we headed across the parking lot to something called the "Butterfly Garden." This little garden occupies a prime spot along a small pond, and a variety of flowers that butterflies love are planted there. One plant I like a great deal is the croton. It doesn't seem to bloom, but the foliage can be quite spectacular. Green and magenta make a dynamic combination, especially on an overcast day when colors seem more intense.

I did a pastel demonstration of this plant. Someone asked how I was planning to render all the leaves. The idea is to not render *all* the leaves - just a few key ones. The mind will see the more-rendered ones and make the assumption that the rest of the foliage is similar. So, I first blocked in the dark green mass of the crotons first, added the pinkish-magenta bits to suggest some of the more colorful foliage, and then took a little more care in delineating a few.

As I started the second piece, the sky darkened noticeably and I knew rain was only moments away. I did a quick sketch of some of the more modern "park models" here - and included the tall cell tower behind them. It's a post-modern look at a landscape, but sometimes I enjoy putting in this kind of thing.

"Cell Tower" 5x7, pastel

At the end of this week's workshop, someone asked me to give five helpful tips for painters. I narrowed it down to these general concepts that can apply to any level of painter:
  1. Keep your gear portable. You won't paint if your gear isn't always ready-to-go.
  2. Paint often. A violinist doesn't play just when giving a concert.
  3. Work from life. All the answers are out there.
  4. Look at a lot of art. This will help you develop a sense of what works and what doesn't.
  5. Find friends to paint with. Camaraderie and feedback are meat and drink to the artist.

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