Robbie Hosegood in front of The Three Sisters
After day one, the non-summer we have experienced this year returned with a vengence. On day two, we took this opportunity to work indoors. We spent some time on theory and then dedicated the day to building our skills painting from photos. I used exercises from Kevin MacPherson's book "Landscape Painting Inside and Out" (highly recommend it!) The 3 we did were:
- turn the photo upside down and paint it in flat, abstract patterns
- paint the photo in black, white and grey only
- THICK paint right out of the gate, increasing thickness as the painting develops
They were all great learning exercises, each one challenging us in different ways. It was the first time I had done them, so I got to learn too! Most importantly, they give you more tools in your kit for ways to move beyond merely copying a photo.
Day 3 was cold and rainy again, but a lot of the group was eager to get outdoors and do some more plein air work, so we went to the Banff Park Administration Buildings where they plant a gorgeous flower garden every year, and remarkably the flowers were still in bloom. I think everyone was pretty excited (and a little warmed) by the color, and lots of them used the fun nature of the subject matter to try the thick paint exercise we had worked on the day before.
Holding an umbrella is not huge fun, if you want to do a lot of plein air I really recommend the BestBrella kit - for keeping things dry in rainy/snowy weather, and for providing even light on your panel/palette and access to a wider variety of subject choices when the sun is out.
After braving the elements in the morning, we headed back to the dry, warm studio for our last afternoon session and did another Kevin M. exercise, this one painting the whole piece high key, no value darker than 5. WAY harder than you might think, give it a try! Start by mixing your 5, placing it where your darkest darks are in your photo reference, and then don't go darker than that anywhere else on the painting.
*If you're not sure, a 5 value is is a tone that is halfway between white and black on a scale of 10. Now all you have to do is translate that in to color and keep everything else lighter :D
PS: This post on a plein air workshop seems woefully short of plein air tips, I guess because most of them were sprinkled throughout the 100 in 100 project, but I promise to do a brief review of the key tips next post.