Sunday, May 5, 2013

Workshop Report: Northern Indiana Pastel Society

Indiana Dunes

After leaving Valparaiso, we made the short drive over to South Bend, where I was scheduled to teach a two-day workshop for the Northern Indiana Pastel Society.  But first, we made a quick stop at the Indiana Dunes National Seashore for a walk.  Overcast, somewhat foggy and 44 degrees made for a cool stroll.  The wind was up, too, throwing some big waves on the shore – waves big enough that we might have been at the ocean!  But most impressive were the 50+ foot dunes.  I'd love to paint them some day.

Like several other locations managed by the National Park Service, Indiana Dunes has an artists-in-residence program.  The Visitor Center has an ongoing exhibition of work donated by the artists over the years.  I was inspired to see the paintings, many of which featured the dunes.

In South Bend, after being greeted warmly by our hosts, I got ready for my lecture.  NIPS asked me to talk about my life as a travelling painter – how my palette differs from place to place, and so on – and the South Bend Museum of Art graciously made me their featured speaker for ""South Bend Downtown First Friday".  We had a good turnout with perhaps 45 or more.

The workshop I taught Saturday and Sunday was a little different from my usual plein air painting workshop.  This was "plein air sketch to studio."  The twelve of us spent Saturday gathering reference material in the form of pencil sketches and notes, color sketches and photographs.  Because we didn't want to waste time dealing with the technology of learning how to download or print images from a dozen different cameras, I asked students to gather as much information as they could without using a camera.  (I suggested we take Frederic Edwin Church as our role model; he painted his magnificent "Heart of the Andes" of 1859 without photo references.)   There was plenty of scenery right outside the Museum, which is located along the St Joseph River.  Many of us chose to focus on the interesting geometry of bridges.

One of my sketches, but I decided not to paint this scene
Sunday, we went to the studio and used our references to create finished pieces.  I discussed formats, composition and design, as well as color harmony.  Then, as I worked on my piece, I had the students work on theirs.   When I played with format choices and designs, they, too, took out their pencils; and when I played with color, they took out their pastels and color wheels.  We also discovered that one of the benefits of having gathered material near the Museum was that, if we had questions about our subject, we could just step outside and take another look!

Here are two photos, one of my reference material followed by the finished demonstration painting.  I'm happy to say that the Northern Indiana Pastel Society bought the painting for its permanent collection and will be used to promote the South Bend Art Museum, which is featured in the piece.

On the St Joe River, 9x18 pastel
(shown in the demonstration mat)
We had a great group -- 11 students -- from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.  Thanks, everyone, for coming!

Now we are on our way east again.  1893 miles down, and only 1219 miles left to go!

1 comment:

Nancy L. Vance said...

Excellent workshop tools and love the final painting!