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!

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