Please click on paintings to view larger.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Invermere Workshop

I just got home from teaching a two day workshop in Invermere, BC. The above paintings are two demos I did, the first one in 15 minutes and the second in 20 minutes. There were 14 very keen students which was great because we were doing speed painting, which is not for the faint of heart. We were painting poses ranging from 30 seconds to no more than 20 minutes, and wiping 90% of them off when the buzzer went.

I learned this teaching technique from Kim English (an American painter who's work is exquisite). The idea is to get to what's important, to capture the essence of the subject without getting caught up in detail. One learns to see what is essential very quickly. I find as I am  blocking in a 15 minute pose, I am constantly noting what is of greatest interest in my subject so as my time winds down I will be able to prioritize what I want to include. The difference between this approach and a finished studio piece where there is infinite time to ponder these things is that the pressure of time running out really helps push the symbol oriented, judgmental left  brain out of the equation.

It is a very difficult approach for some students to embrace, the resistance seems to come mostly from our natural tendency to be result rather than process oriented. Especially in painting, we seem to want all of our time spent to end in a finished piece we can hang on the wall. This is compounded when one gets paid for those pieces, but it can be quite freeing to embrace the idea that a lot of our time spent should be working on skills with NO immediate end result expected, just faith that the work we are doing now will help us shine brighter when it counts.


  1. Love the ballerinas...such a classic subject matter treated in such a very fresh energetic way!
    As always, you inspire me!

    Gaye Adams

  2. Looking good and it sounds as though your students enjoyed the challenge!

  3. What a great approach! I am encouraged to try it this week - your paintings do capture an essence without much detail. I personally love that mix of realism and abstract.