Saturday, August 29, 2015

Doug Dawson Advanced Workshop – Final Report

That's my painting, "Twin Spruces," on the left and in-process

I first came across Master Pastellist Doug Dawson 15 years ago, when I began painting in pastel.  His book, Capturing Light and Color in Pastel, was the perfect resource for me at the time.  (It's still a valuable resource, and although it's out of print, I recommend it.)  Soon afterward, I took a workshop with him when he judged one of the Pastel Society of New Mexico's annual exhibitions.  I was awed by his knowledge, generosity and spirit, and especially by how he could articulate concepts very clearly—a skill many master painters don't have.  Since then, I have helped him organize advanced workshops in Lubec, and he has been a real pleasure to work with.

This was Doug's fifth time giving this workshop.  He had students from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, both North and South Carolina, New Mexico and Prince Edward Island.  The group included a retired high school principal, a professional artist, a retired financial analyst and two doctors whose services, fortunately, were not needed.   A variety of skill levels and media provided a rich environment for everyone.  During lunches and other informal gatherings, I enjoyed listening to everyone's "art story."

I won't give a day-by-day, detailed diary, but I do want to describe how Doug runs his advanced landscape plein air painting workshop.  Although there are no formal lectures or demonstrations, participants are invited to watch him paint--during which time he will narrate his process and thoughts--or to paint the same scene along side him, or even to paint something different nearby.  Between these painting sessions, he gives critiques of work done by participants and also addresses topics that may come up as a result of the critiques.  This week, topics included massing and simplification of shapes, edge design and control, and creating color interest.  I won't elaborate on these much other than to say that even with my 15 years as a professional painter and instructor, and after a lifetime of painting, I learned something new every day.

Except for one day of torrential rain, we had warm but excellent weather with sometimes a little morning fog.   Our painting locations in Lubec included Quoddy State Park and the village itself.  On Campobello Island, we painted at the Head Harbour Lightstation and, within the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, Liberty Point and near Lake Glensevern.  For the rain day, we had a comfortable, dry studio to work in, and we always met there for critiques and post-painting discussions.

Below I've posted some of my work from the week.  I especially focused on simplified masses and interesting edges.  They are for sale, so if you're interested, please let me know and I will provide pricing.

By the way, you can paint this very same scenery next year at one of my own Paint Campobello plein air painting workshops.  I am now taking reservations from weeks for July, August and early September 2016.  Visit for details and to register.  I hope you'll join me!

Barrier Beach, 9x12  pastel

Dead Spruce, 16x20, oil

Heart of the Island, 9x12 oil
(I am reminded of Frederic Church's "Heart of the Andes")

Off School Street, 9x12 oil

Twin Spruces, 12x18 pastel

2 PM, 9x12 oil

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