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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Start with the essence

"Daisy" (block-in)
Original Oil - 6x6"

This was a demo from a recent workshop done to illustrate the concept of blocking in the large abstract shapes when beginning a painting. This is especially helpful when you are dealing with a complex subject (like 9 million petals). The trick is to really squint down and reduce your subject to the key shapes of light and shadow. The next step in this painting will be to begin to introduce detail and refine edges, but if you can capture the underlying structure and design elements of your subject then the detail rests on on a strong foundation. In this way less becomes more.

On another note, I will be teaching workshops in an interesting variety of locations over the next 4 months. Please click on the links below for more details:

Plein Air in Southfreeport, Maine - Aug. 19th-21st               
Heli-painting in the Bugaboo Mountains, BC
- Sept.6th-10th
Plein Air in Kauai, Hawaii - Oct. 24th-27th
Robert Genn's recent post opened the door on some differing perspectives about workshops. Here is mine:

We live in such a marvelous time - we have the ability to handpick the artists whose work we admire,  and travel far and wide to share a few days learning from and talking art with them. If we are lucky a keen student or art group will bring a valuable teacher into our own back yard. These are golden opportunities. I am a huge believer in studying with fellow skilled artists as a means of deepening and broadening our own abilities. Painting is a highly complex pursuit with endless possibilities for advancement and improvement, and whatever we may know, there will be others who know something in addition to it.

At the very least, a good workshop will shake things up and push you out of your comfort zone. At best, it will give you some fresh ideas for exploration, and one or two pearls of wisdom you will carry with you for the rest of your painting life. As well as teaching workshops, I take at least one a year. It has become my process when I return from a workshop to dedicate myself to honing the best of the skills I've learned, and then incorporating them into the rhythm of my own teaching. In this way, my students learn not only from me, but indirectly from all the wonderful artists I have studied with.


  1. Love this painting. Know you would be an excellent teacher because you are so good with words and sharing your knowledge through your blog. Maybe one day I will come your way. Know it would be worth it!

  2. Love this painting -- especially the cool-colored flower shadow. So simple yet so striking.

  3. The South Freeport gang is so looking forward to your workshop! We know it will be a blast and we'll all be painting better when we're done.

    It's interesting the difference in this painting on the blog background versus the white of your email. Wow! It really pops here.

  4. Your block in is beautiful. I hope we'll get to see future developments in this little painting.

  5. Thanks you guys! Shirley I will definitely post it here if I do get to completing it. I tend to lose enthusiasm if I don't finish a piece pretty soon after starting it, but this one has good bones, so I hope to take a run at finishing it.

  6. HI Liz! I have been reading all your news;-Life coaching, certification, art workshops-all over the place-(I want to go to them all!)...your blogs, and actual painting...You are one focused and busy person...I admire all your energy and am inspired! Bigger than life,go Liz go!

  7. Thanks for the uplifting feedback Stephanie!

    Life is full of so many fascinating avenues to pursue, the hard part is narrowing it down. It's been my experience the once you get things going, momentum starts to take over and sweep you along, and a lot of the work gets done in the natural flow of things.

  8. What a difference in color saturation from the blog to what is posted. I love the simplicity of the flower values. Very nice job!

  9. Great piece, Liz. I also tend to lose interest if I don't finish fast enough. Love your take on workshops. Good luck.