Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kathleen Dunphy Workshop

Well, I can sum up the entire workshop in one word, Fantastic! I arrived back home last night and went out painting today, but let me back up a bit.
I traveled to Murphys California over two days by car with an overnight stop at Ashland, OR.
I arrived the day before the workshop started and met several of my new classmates for dinner in Murphys to get a chance to get acquainted. We arrive at our classroom in Douglas Flats, just down the road from Murphys, which was literally an old school house. A charming old school house complete with bell.
Douglas Flat School
The first morning was spent eagerly soaking up instruction from Kathleen. She had good handouts for all of us and, after lunch, she turned us loose to paint. It was very hot the first day and not just for this Pacific Northwest coastal painter.
Kathleen's approach to starting a painting, brush size, limited palette, brush work, and paint application are different than mine. From the very first, I decided to leave behind what little I know for now and embrace what she teaches. I plan to keep working in this way until I become competent with the method and can then decide what to keep and what to let go.
Well, some of you know that means I make a huge mess and take about ten giant steps back in proficiency. I decided to start from the beginning and work on just starting.
Here is my day one painting and start.
Day 1 study, 6"x8", oil on canvas panel
As you can see, I didn't get very far. I gained a tiny toe hold with this one though.
On to day two!
We met an hour earlier, 8:00 am, to beat the heat a bit. The day wasn't quite as hot as the previous one but no one seemed to mind getting an early start. This one started with a Q and A and additional talk to fill in all the odds and ends of information. We headed out to the road to watch Kathleen paint a demo for us demonstrating all that she was talking about. She painted what is known as the "Italian Store."
Here is a picture of this interesting building:
The Italian Store, Douglas Flats, CA
It is always good to see a demonstration of the principles given in a lecture. After the demo, I had a quick bite to eat and joined my classmates out in the surrounding area to paint. I found a spot I liked around the back to paint. Here is the first Day 2 study:
Day 2 study: Back wall of The Italian Store, 8"x10", oil on linen panel

Here is something I don't have to worry about here at the beach!

We didn't encounter any but did sign a waiver stating that we had been warned and were responsible for not provoking any rattlers we found!
Late afternoon we had a choice of continuing to paint on our study for the day or to go paint at a local winery down the road. Most of us chose to go to the winery. Twisted Oak winery to be exact. The winding road up to the wine tasting room was peppered with humorous signs that made me burst out laughing each time I encountered one. I don't want to add to the length of this post too much but here was the final sign, which seemed appropriate:

Twisted Oaks Winery

Twisted Oaks welcoming committee
The picture above is of the welcoming committee at the entrance and a view of the area.
We only had about two hours to paint before we had to leave as the winery closed at 5:30. I decided to visit the gift shop, do a quick wine tasting, and then paint at the entrance in front of the gate. Now, I must say here, when I say quick wine tasting I mean it. No swirling of the glass, loud sniffing of the fumes, witty comments, etc. I literally took a tiny sip and dumped the excess and moved on. I am sure the young woman behind the counter serving the tasting wine looked a bit bemused. I didn't want to have the wine interfere with my painting. Drinking and painting is not a pretty sight to behold! I quickly made my wine selection, bought a few gifts, and went to my chosen spot. A couple of classmates and I spent a few hours painting and reluctantly put down the brushes about 7 p.m.  Day two was a long day, working from 8am to 7pm. I went back to my hotel room tired, hungry, and very happy to be at at the workshop. Here is the second study I painted on day two.
Day 2: Twisted Oaks Winery Study 6"x8", oil on canvas panel
Our final day arrived alarmingly fast. We all met up at Ironstone Vineyards at 9:00 am. Well, some of us were there a bit earlier. I forgot we were meeting at 9 instead of 8 am, but that was just fine. It was a beautiful morning and I enjoyed exploring the area. It turned out that I wasn't the only one!
Kathleen painted another demo for us to explain painting reflections in water. We all fell to work as time was short.
Painting at the pond at Ironstone Vineyards
The day was cooler still but nicely warm for me. It felt wonderful. Here is my final workshop study:
Day 3: The pond at Ironstone Vineyards, 8"x10", oil on linen panel
There wasn't much time, only about an hour and a half but my starts were getting quicker and I was able to get in a bit more detail, if you could call it that.
We all gathered and caravaned up to Kathleen's studio to have a final critique and wrap up talk. Murphys is a beautiful place and Kathleen's studio is a pleasure to visit. We had our critique surrounded by many of her beautiful paintings.

The workshop went so fast and left me wanting more. I felt like I was just getting warmed up!
Now I have to add a little note here. My sharing of my work process is hopefully neither narcissistic or masochistic. I share the good, the bad, and the ugly in an attempt to show what goes into building art skills, and to possibly encourage others who may be struggling too.

Kathleen gave us many wonderful quotes throughout the workshop. One of my favorites was from Barbara Kingsolver, who is a favorite author of mine too. Barbara would tell and encourage her children with the following: "You can do hard things".  Painting isn't easy and it helps to tell oneself "I can do hard things" when faced with the frustration, which Kathleen assures us is the constant companion of most artists. If anyone is considering taking a workshop with Kathleen Dunphy, I highly recommend it. Her teaching style fit my learning style perfectly. She is warm, smart, funny, and encouraging. I will probably take one more workshop from her, the "No whiners" 5-day workshop. I will have about a year to continue to build my skills and get out to paint before that one.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I went out painting today and went through the same process. It was sunny but windy. It was too windy to put an easel umbrella up so I painted in the sunshine. My painting is too dark and too intense but I did go through the process and am able to get a tiny bit more. In spite of my two layers of fleece and a marine coat, I was shivering by the end and the wind gusts kept blowing my hand around as I would try to paint. I got a good two hours plus in. Here is the study. I painted at Hug Point as there was a minus tide today. I can see plenty to tweak as well as finish. That square of sky for one!
Hug Point Plein Air Study, 8"x10", oil on linen panel
Alas, I work the next few days. However, I had plenty of time to think and plan on my drive home. I know what I want to achieve and what it will take. I have a lot of work cut out for me but I wouldn't want to do anything else.
This will be a fun post to revisit in a year!



Dana said...

Yay Renee! I loved this post....thank you for taking us along to your workshop. I'm so glad you found it so rewarding.

R. Delight said...

Thank you Dana! My head is still trying to sort out all the experiences. Can't wait to get out and paint again, even if I will probably feel like throwing my brush across the beach.:)

Dana said...

I know that feeling.

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