June 12, 2017

Raising the Bar

plein air study, Chilliwack 8X10" oil on mounted canvas

I am teaching plein air workshops quite frequently these days, and loving it.

The feedback I get from students is that painting on location takes everything they've got - energy, concentration, determination bringing all the skill sets they possess.  So why do something that is so hard?
Well, that is the very reason to do it.

I know that I am throwing students into the deep end of the pool, but I also know that that is where the greatest learning is.  Without challenge, muscles don't get stronger.   Everything that you don't know about painting becomes glaringly obvious when you are painting from life, and that can be uncomfortable.  But growth most often is uncomfortable.

I started working en plein air at the same time I returned to painting small daily paintings and working live from the model.  I felt, after a career spanning several decades, that I was no longer progressing as a painter, or at least that my growth had slowed down, so I raised the bar for myself by creating a greater challenge.  I believe it has very noticeably increased my skills.  Studio work seems to be easier as a result.   Here's what has shifted for me since I have started working more from life:

          1.  My concentration has increased
          2.  My eyes are better trained - I see value and color relationships quickly and easily
          3.  Design skill have improved remarkably
          4.  Greater authenticity in my studio work - deficiencies in photo references are often remedied by knowledge gained from observation from life.

In addition, I have had some amazing experiences.  Being still and in one spot for a day allows you to become a part of the landscape, waves lapping, birch trees whispering, birds singing.   One time I actually had a small bird come and briefly perch on the end of my brush!

If you want some plein air coaching, I have a workshop coming up in here in the Fraser Valley.  Particulars are as follows:

Location: Langley and surrounding area
Cost: $350
Dates: July 6,7,8 and 9
Contact: gayemadams@gmail.com
Phone 250-804-5295

Come on out and share a time of learning and adventure.  If you are new to painting on location, no worries....I'll make sure you learn what you need to get rolling.   It would be my joy to share the adventure with you.

Happy painting,


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