June 28, 2018

The Importance of Working from Life

Persimmon and Friends 6X8" oil

Plein Air Study for "Crystal Cove", 8X10"

I have been teaching folks to paint for over 30 years now, and, more importantly, teaching MYSELF to paint for much longer than that.   One thing I am thoroughly persuaded of is that working from life will increase your painting skills sets faster than anything else.

I find the genre of painting doesn't matter so much - whether painting the landscape on location, the model, or the still life in the studio, it seems to be a different set of "seeing" muscles are required to paint from life.  Or perhaps it is just a different level of seeing, one that requires greater concentration and more decision making.

The tendency of those early in their development as painters is to paint from photo reference material.  It is the most convenient way to paint certainly, and takes off the time pressure inherent in painting from life.  I think it is important for learners to understand that the photo is just a springboard for studio work, and if you are tied very closely to the photo in front of you, it has it's limitations.  We can tend to take it too literally, and rely on the camera's decisions as absolute truth, which it certainly is not.

Don't misunderstand me, please.  I use photo references very regularly in the studio and find them indispensable, but my greatest growth as a painter has come from my practice of painting still life in the studio and painting en plein air regularly.  Because of this, I have a passion for teaching painting from life.  I feel it is a really great learning tool.  It's tougher to do, but well worth the effort.  It is scales and arpeggios for the eye, push ups for your perception muscles.  It doesn't matter if the paintings turn out (and many of them won't initially), but the point of the excercise IS the excercise.

To that end, I thought I would let you know of a few things I have coming up:

Daily Painting, July 7 and 8 in North Vancouver  (for course description and details, click here

Passion for Plein Air, July 20-23 (four days) for info click here

Paint in Croatia 2018! Sept 7-16, for info on this amazing trip, click here

If you have interest in any of the above workshops, please don't hesitate to email me directly: gayemadams@gmail.com.
It would be my pleasure to help you with  your particular learning curve.

All the best to all of you, and happy painting!

June 3, 2018

Changing it Up

"Outflow"  oil on board, 10X8"

I wanted to share this quick study with you because it illustrates so well something that I have been working with
lately; painting on a dark surface.  This board was primed with acrylic paint - a very dark, transparent brown.  I know it looks black in the photo, but it isn't. 

You can see how much of the board remains unpainted, which can make for good success in paintings that have a lot of dark values.  The darks are already there, so all that is required is to "carve" into them with middle and light values.  I am having a lot of fun with this approach lately, and have been using it in the studio and in the field.  I could go ahead and paint into these darks, but I think the design is stronger without and further value changes.

It's always good to try new things.  When you are watching a demo or attending a workshop, try what is being demonstrated rather than staying in your comfort zone.  The only good thing that can be said about the comfort zone is that it is, well.....comfortable.  Nothing can be discovered from there, and it is a place where ambivalence, boredom and unrealized potential abound.  I don't dig it much.

 Be bold!  Be willing to "sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment" (eastern saying, not sure from where, but it has become my mantra).  

And above all, have some fun, will ya?  It's just a canvas.  I understand there are lots more at the art store.


PS - check out my upcoming Croatia tour and also my summer plein air workshop.  I still have room for a few more.  Go here for more info: http://www.gayeadams.com/workshops/

April 28, 2018

Croatia 2018 - and other Painting Adventures....

Swimming in the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik,
nice and warm in September!

A view from atop the walls of Dubrovnik

One of our painting locations,  Fort Lovrojenac
(one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones)

The thing I absolutely LOVE about plein air painting is the excuse to go to amazingly beautiful locations, and then explore them by finding amazing subjects and then expressing them in paint.  Standing still in one spot allows you to paint an experience.  For me it's a visual journal that transports me back to the day I painted, and I recall the little things.  The smell of the air, the sights, sounds - even the cold beer at the end of the day with fellow painters- it all comes flooding back.  I revel in these experiences.

I have included a number of photos of various locations on my upcoming Croatia tour in order to tantalize you - it truly is a wonderful experience, and I have gotten to know some great painting locations in the area through the years.  The class size is small, the cost very reasonable, and I think it is a really great value.  Non - painting partners or spouses are most welcome on this tour.  There is lots for everyone to do.  For details on the Croatia trip, go here: http://www.slikamilina.ca/gaye-adams-workshops/

If you are new to the plein air experience, I have a new workshop offering this summer, called "Introduction to Plein Air", to be held in July.  I will have it on my site soon.  It will be held in the earlier part of July in the Langley area, and details will be available very soon.  It is a good primer for the Croatia trip.  I also have a plein air workshop offered in July for those of you who have done it before.  For details on these local workshops, click here: http://gayeadams.com/workshops/

I hope you will come out and have some adventures with me this summer and fall.  You'll work hard, and you will also create some wonderful memories.   I suspect some pretty decent paintings will come out of the experience as well. :)

Contact me with any questions:  gayemadams@gmail.com.  The rains are ending, so let the painting begin!!!!


March 7, 2018

Edit Down - Waaaaaay Down.

6x8" plein air study, Leadbetter Beach, February 2018

This is a plein air study that I recently did on my trip to SoCal.  As many of you know, I do a yearly painting junket to Santa Barbara, and this piece was painted at the end of the day, and is only 6X8".  It was a busy day at the beach, yoga practioners were doing their thing, as were surfers, dog walkers, sand castle builders, etc.  The view I had started to paint facing the opposite direction was the more obvious painting subject, beautiful sunlit cliffs up against the sea.   I spent most of the morning on the first painting, but this quick study turned out better by far.  Ironically,  I  had not even considered painting this direction when I first arrived on location.

 I did not have a clear idea how to tackle this subject,  so I started with the big decisions- the division of space on my canvas.  Next, I laid in the basic values and colors, which I completed in about 15 to twenty minutes, isolating and checking I had the big relationships down with accuracy.   Lastly, the small shapes, the "grace notes" to add some interest and scale and to direct the eye. I pushed in  a few palm trees that were actually just outside my view, to add a horizontal dark to anchor the composition, and it worked.  I do love to exercise artistic license.  It makes all sorts of things possible.

I love these small studies because they either go very right or very wrong in a big hurry.  The small format forces you to pay attention to only the important elements, there is no getting lost in minutiae.  Oil paint is too thick to make teensy weensy exacting shapes - unless you want to make yourself a little crazy.  Far easier to keep it simple and save yourself the aggravation in my opinion.

Less is always more.

In closing, I have a few things I want to share with you:  I am in the West Fine Art Show coming up this weekend.  Here is the basic info in case you are in the area and want to show up and say hello (I would love to see you!)

Location:  Yorkson Middle School, 20686-84 Ave, Langley
Dates:  March 10 and 11, 10:00 till 5:00

Also, I have  ONLY THREE MORE SPOTS  in my upcoming atelier workshop.  Go to the link below for info on that workshop, or any of the others that are coming up, including my July plein air workshop.

My September tour to Croatia is filling nicely, still room for a few more there.  For info on the trip go here: http://www.slikamilina.ca/gaye-adams-workshops/ and also check out the link above.

Happy painting everyone!!!!

February 2, 2018

Doing Your Own Thing

Alpen Glow, 24X30", oil on canvas

Today I have posted an image that you may have already seen if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook.  I thought about painting this image for about a decade before it actually got birthed, and when I set brush to canvas, it almost painted itself.

Why did it take me so long to get to it?  Well, I wasn't sure I knew how to do the subject matter justice.  I used a photo reference from the Lake Ohara area that I had taken over a decade ago, but lacked the confidence to tackle.  By the time I did get to painting it, I had more tools in my belt as an oil painter.  I had become better at manipulating the paint, allowing me to handle the diversity of edges and nuance of color I needed in order to do this piece justice. 

So often as artists, our vision exceeds our grasp.  We don't even know what we don't know.  Given enough time and practice, the solutions do eventually appear, but it is a long learning curve.

So, if you have a painting (or two or three or four even) that you are wanting some input or feedback on, I have an offering for you:  this April I am starting a studio class that is geared at helping painters work on pieces that they are not sure how to tackle or resolve, in a friendly, informal, and intimate setting.  Over ten weeks, students will attend eight classes (I will be holding all ten classes so that students can miss one or two and still make all eight classes that they have paid for).  The idea is to mentor students individually on their own projects to lend suggestions and guidance that will shorten the learning curve while students work on subject matter and in a format that most appeals to them.   Lord knows I don't have all the answers, but I guarantee I'll have some ideas for you to consider.

 In addition, I will  do some demo work by bringing to class what I currently have on my studio easel.  I'll show you mine and you can show me yours....

The class is suitable for all skill levels and all mediums, so go to my site for the details: www.gayeadams.com  and look under workshops.  Classes will be held Thursday afternoons from 1:30 till 4:30 in Fort Langley and the cost will be $425 for eight sessions.  The class will be capped at 12.  Our location is a lovely bright room right on the river front.

Let me know if you are interested by emailing me:   gayemadams@gmail.com.

I am preparing for my annual Santa Barbara getaway, and shall post next from there.  Looking forward to escaping the rain and painting on some beaches...such a rough life.

Until then, happy painting!