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!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Warm weather and Workshop!

I am a bit behind in posting this. We had a few days of beautiful warm weather on the coast and I took advantage of every moment as seen in my previous post. I went out one more day but the marine inversion layer had returned with a serious mizzle. I did get a painting in nonetheless. I went up to Arcadia State Park, with is the next cove over from Hug Point.
I am still working on a new painting process so here is a picture of my start and my finish.
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Color Block-In, Arcadia State Park
The first picture is the color block in. Just getting the shapes and approximate colors on the canvas. This step goes fairly fast but I still strive for accuracy. The picture below is when I broke the painting session off due to excess moisture! It was fairly close to finish. I would have added a bit more to the sky and sandy beach to give variety and a few touches here and there. This was a two hour study.

© 2014 R.L. Delight, Arcadia State Park, WIP
Since this was a fairly simple composition, I painted a lot more detail than I usually do. Alas I realized too late that there was a bare mast of a tree at the top of the large hill. I stuck it in anyway even though it went off the canvas to remind me. Next time I would work it in better.
Here is a lovely picture of the area that I took before I got to work and the mist closed in.
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Arcadia State Park, OR
A quick note here, I do have an easel umbrella but I rarely use it. It does not hold up at all well in our coastal winds which can shift and come up rather suddenly and blow everything away. Rain here rarely falls straight down. It is usually going sideways into one's face. Mist and mizzle swirls around getting everywhere. Umbrellas don't work well under those conditions. I have found it most useful on sunny warm calm days, which are quite rare here as sunshine usually brings strong wind.

Finally, I am off in a couple days to go to a workshop taught by Kathleen Dunphy! I have mentioned it before and the time is almost here. I am excited! I will be driving down to California, breaking it into two days travel each way. I will only have my phone to post with but I will try to get a quick post or two in with a nice recap when I get back home.
I will be painting around the town of Murphys CA which has a dramatically different climate than what I am accustomed to. I have done all I can to prepare with sunscreen, clothing, and hydration plans. Stay tuned for journey posts!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Making Paintings While the Sun Shines

We are having a heat wave here on the Northern Oregon Coast. I went out all day yesterday and today and painted. It feels so good to be out painting and to be out painting in warm sunshine is amazing! The temps have been in the low 80's, which for us is quite warm. The timing is perfect for me to try out my warm weather paint clothes and sunscreen before heading to California in 2 weeks for my workshop with Kathleen Dunphy.
So, to get right to it, yesterday I drove five minutes up the road to Devil's Caldron. The same spot I spent my birthday watching huge waves crash against the cliffs. The waves were a lot calmer yesterday. Here is the study I did in the morning:
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Devil's Cauldron morning study, 6"x8", oil on canvas
And here is the study I painted in the afternoon,
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Devil's Cauldron afternoon study, 8"x10",  oil on canvas.
When I first arrived, the wind was blowing fairly strong from the east and was quite warm. Finding a spot was challenging but I did find one somewhat sheltered from the wind and got to work. I decided to stay put and paint the second study on a larger canvas. This was the first time I tried an 8"x10" study. As you can see from the two studies, the shadows change dramatically as the sun moves through the sky. Often the sea rocks look completely different throughout the day.
I have been doing a lot of studying of art books and am trying out several of the ideas I have learned in these and today's studies. As it always is when trying something new, there is a slight step back in quality. Overall, I am quite pleased as I learned a lot while painting these even if areas of the painting are not as satisfying as I would like.
Here is a shot of my set-up spot as I was cleaning my palette after the first painting:
Painting at Devil's Cauldron
A note here, I don't wear sunglasses when I am painting but I do put them on the instant I am finished or when taking a break. I grew up in the sunshine on the west coast. My eyes will most likely will pay for that in the future. I hope to cut down on any future damage.
On to today's paintings! I went up to Ecola State Park where the tide was out but coming in. Due to the number of people on the beach and the tide, I didn't have as many possible views to paint as I would have liked. In other words, I only had 1000, instead of the usual 5000 views! I ended up finding a good rock to toss my things on and painted this rock, which I have painted before. I guess I like its shape and the wave action.
© 2014, R.L. Delight, Ecola State Park study, 6"x8", oil on canvas
 Again, I am concentrating on specific techniques here. In all of these studies I have been starting with a full color mass-in start. I get the canvas covered completely with a thin layer of color that looks sort of like the finished painting and then I go over it with thicker paint. Getting my paint a bit thicker is another one of those techniques I am working on. While I go through a period of frustration and even anxiety as I am trying the new techniques out, I am enjoying myself tremendously. I am making a lot of discoveries that I like.
That said, this afternoon did not go so well. I went back to Short Sands Beach as the tide was coming in almost to its highest point and painted a familiar area:
© 2014 R.L. Delight, Short Sands Study, 8"x10", oil on canvas
First of all, there is a lot of detail I am trying to capture here. Probably too much detail but I just love this spot for many reasons. I will keep painting and sketching it until I can get it down as I want it! In addition to trying all the new techniques, the light and shadows were changing very fast and very dramatically. I was pretty tired at this point and my mind did not want to hold the memory of what I was painting very well. My visual memory is getting better all the time but I realized I had reached a point where I was getting confused and starting to chase the light a bit. That told me it was time to stop. The ocean in the foreground was crudely blocked in while I was trying to get the waterfall and surrounding cliff.
I am not sure if I will continue to work on this study or toss it and try a new one. The bright sunlight is challenging when one is not used to it! I have managed to not get sunburned while standing out in the sun for so many hours. The sunscreen works as does the sunblock clothing.
I am quite tired from painting and will wrap this up.
The weather may be changing tomorrow but I think I will be able to get another good day of painting in. Saturday I am playing in a concert with my band, The Sedona Fire Band, with a sound-check call for 3:30. An awkward time of day, so I plan to take my new sketchbook for a spin.
More posts to follow!

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