Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Workshop with Kevin Menck



This past weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), I took a plein air workshop with Kevin Menck. As it turned out, there were only four people in the class. So we each received a lot of help from Kevin.

On Friday, we went to Green's Grocery in Leiper's Fork where Kevin did a demo. Then my friend, Sheryl, who was also in the class, invited us to her house for lunch. After lunch we met at Garrison Creek which is the first exit after you get on the Natchez Trace in Leiper's Fork heading west. We looked around the creek, and I picked out this scene to paint. I didn't take a photo while we were outside - I keep forgetting to photograph my painting with the actual scene in the background. I finished it (added the tree reflections in the water - and worked on the foreground a little) in my studio at home. The actual painting looks better than the photograph of the painting. The photograph makes it look grainier.



Then on Saturday, we just about froze to death (it was 32 degrees outside) while Kevin did a demo outside on the side of the road entering the Natchez Trace.  We had brought folding chairs - and I happened to have two blankets in the back of my car - so I wrapped one around me and gave the other one to another student.  It was COLD!!!  Ron was nice enough to bring us hot coffee - which was wonderful! We convinced Kevin that after lunch (at Sheryl's again!) we should paint inside. So we met up at Green's Grocery again in Leiper's Fork, and we each painted using one of Kevin's paintings as a reference. I chose a painting that had a house and barn - and here is my version of it. It's my favorite painting from the workshop.


Sunday was a much better day in terms of weather - warmer and sunny.  We went to a farm on Bailey Road in Leiper's Fork. I chose a fence row with a large tree in the foreground and a pasture and some hills in the background.  It's my least favorite painting for the workshop. That large tree was my nemesis for the day. Since it is November, most of the leaves had fallen off, but there were still some hanging on - and I had the hardest time showing that in the painting.  I painted it, scraped it off, and painted it again.  I like the play of shadows in the foreground which was one of the reasons I chose that scene. I had told Kevin my goal was to paint the scene entirely from looking at the actual scene - and not taking a photo and looking more at the photo than the scene. So I accomplished that. I didn't look at a photo of the scene at all; it was painted entirely en plein air.  



This was my second Kevin Menck workshop.  I like his style of painting, although I'm probably a little tighter of an artist than he is.  He's good at helping me to be a little looser - to concentrate of big shapes and values rather than getting bogged down with unnecessary details.  It was a good workshop.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The cotton fields of home

I remember throughout my childhood seeing cotton fields as I drove or rode around the countryside in Georgia. Now when I drive to Georgia to visit my mother, I pass quite a few cotton fields. Cotton fields are strikingly beautiful! I love the look of the cottony whiteness covering the ground.  I've stopped several times on my way to or from Georgia to take photos to use in painting. Finally, this past week, I followed through and painted one of the fields.  I painted it while I was visiting my mother. This field in my painting is actually in Alabama - just a few miles from the Georgia border.


I like the trees - I'm not sure about the cotton. Overall, I like it - although I'm not sure I have it where it looks definitively like a cotton field.  It could be a white-flowered field.  There wasn't a creek in my photo, but I felt the painting needed something more of interest. So I added the creek and the rock in the foreground.  Otherwise, it follows the photograph fairly well.  If I "widened the lens" there would be a house on the far left.  I may re-paint it and widen the perspective to include the house. 

Candy Day - one day art workshop

This past Monday I went to a one-day workshop in Talking Rock, GA at the Chateau Meichtry Vineyard and Winery, taught by Candy Crawford Day.  It was a great day.  Candy is good teacher, and I FINALLY understood about how to use a paintbrush to "measure" to get proportions right.  There were only four students in the class (or was it five?) and I was definitely not in the upper 3 or 4 as far as skill level.

The first part of the day, Candy did a demo using a model.  We were inside, and the model sat on the hearth with her black and white dog at her feet.  Candy did a great job.  After lunch we went outside, and the model sat on a rock wall - this time with the dog by her side.

Now, at this point, I STILL did not understand about how to get proportions right.  Candy showed me, but it didn't make sense to me.  I THOUGHT it made sense at the time, but it didn't work for me (because I was doing it wrong). But I tried. The model put on a hat because the sun was so hot.  My photo is dark - I think because my setup was in the shade, and the sun was so bright outside the shade.  So my proportions aren't right. And you will notice that I didn't even attempt the dog!  LOL! 


Before I left, I walked around looking at the other artists' paintings, and their's were SO much better.  As I drove home (almost 4 hours), I was mulling over the whole proportion thing - thinking about the painting above, thinking about the painting of Sophie on the beach - and Ron and Bradley hand-in-hand on the beach - and how all my figures are too short and stubby looking.  Then suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head and I understood what Candy had described - how using the paintbrush to measure would help me keep the proportions right.  So I'm anxious to try another figure soon and try out my paintbrush measuring skills.  

Meanwhile, my painting from this class will remain in my ever-growing "too bad to be seen" stack in my studio. :-) It's so bad, I don't want to even try to make it better - just start over on something else.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Plein Air Painters of the Southeast (PAP-SE)

Back in September, the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast had a paintout and art show in Leiper's Fork.  I WISH I were a good enough painter to be a member, but that is currently way out of the realm of possibility. However, I am a member of the Chestnut Group, and the Chestnut Group acted as hosts for the PAP-SE group.  We were asked if we would be willing to host some of the painters in our homes.  After talking it over with Ron last spring, I said, "sure."  So three artists spent a week with us - Perry Austin, Jim Carson, and MaryO Smith.  MaryO is the artist I worked with when Ron and I went to Sea Island last winter. We had never met Perry or Jim before.  And Perry's wife, Carol, was here with him - and we loved getting to know her, too. It was a fun group of people.

I was a little nervous about having three strangers spend a week with us, but it turned out great, and all my concerns were laid to rest within a few minutes of the artists' arrival.  By the time they all left on Saturday, we hugged like old friends.  It was a most enjoyable week!  We sat out on the deck and had drinks and appetizers in the evenings, ate breakfast around the kitchen table in the mornings, and just did a lot of talking.  They painted much of the day - and were in and out.  There were a couple of evening activities that Ron and I were invited to since we hosted some of the artists, and that was so much fun. We got to know many of the artists, and when they had their "wet paint" sale on that Friday and Saturday, I could have easily spent many thousands of dollars on paintings.  Perry, especially, had one I really loved of the chicken house behind our house - and another one of the farm behind us on Carters Creek Pike.  And my friend, Sheryl, beat me to a gorgeous painting by Kathie Odom. My goal for the next year or two is to buy a Kathie Odom painting - but I want to wait until I find one the "speaks" to me.

The artists that stayed at our house each gave us an original oil painting as a gift for our hospitality - which, if you think about it, is a pretty amazing and valuable gift!  Perry painted "Gnarly Oak" for us - and I will treasure that painting always. Ron and I have loved that tree since we first saw it when were walking on our land.  It was "Gnarly Elm" for awhile until we figured out it was an oak instead of an elm.  Here is his painting.  I love it!

 Jim gave us a painting he had done previously - a house with a dirt road leading up to it - really beautiful. I love his loose and impressionistic style.  


 Then MaryO painted Ron's John Deere tractor - and she gave that painting to us.We both love the painting, but Ron, especially, does since it's his tractor and he has so many memories of working with and on that tractor! MaryO also did a couple other paintings from around our house - of the wildflowers at the front of the driveway, and of a tree near the front.  Both beautiful paintings.  



I loved having the artists here.  It was a great week.

While the PAP-SE artists were in town, I signed up for two mentoring sessions. The first mentoring session was with Dawn Whitelaw - a wonderful artist that I had heard about and had seen when I've taken classes at On Track Studios where she has a studio.  She, another mentee, and I went to Justin Timberlake's farm here in Leiper's Fork, and painted a barn there. Dawn was very helpful, and although she did her own painting, she kept a careful watch on her mentees, and came over to me often giving suggestions for improving my painting.  Here is an "in-progress" photo that shows the actual barn in the background - and then the finished painting.


My second mentoring session was with MaryO, but I didn't end up with a painting from that one.  She did, though.  LOL! So, alas, I don't have a painting or even part of one to show for that experience.

All in all, it was a great week. We made new friends, I learned so much about painting, and it was simply fun. If PAP-SE ever comes back to Nashville, I will be volunteering immediately to host some artists again - especially if "our" artists return.  



Paintings around our Farm

Here are a couple of paintings I've done around Dogwood Trace Farm - our farm.  The first one is from a photo I took at the bottom of the hill looking up at that distinct tree that is on the right of the path.  Ron says this is his favorite painting of mine because he goes to "the bottom" (the area behind out house at the bottom of the hill next to the West Harpeth River) all the time with the dogs.  So he always sees this tree as he starts back up the hill.


This past summer, Ron planted a lot of wildflowers above the rock wall at the entrance to our driveway.  Butterflies - especially lots of small yellow ones - flew all around the flowers, along with bees.  The mixture of colors was bright and striking. Here is my painting of the rock wall and wildflowers.  It's the largest painting I've done yet - 30 x 40, oil on cradled gessobord.


Long time - new paintings from Gatlinburg and Arrowmont

It has been awhile since I last posted.  I had my cataract surgery and was proud that I did every single eye drop recommended - which was four weeks of eye drops for each eye.  That's behind me now, and honestly, I can't tell a whole lot of difference. My distance vision is better - no more double vision.  However, I STILL need reading glasses, and I STILL have trouble seeing things in less that perfect lighting.

However, I have been painting. I completed several paintings at the week-long workshop in Gatlinburg at the Arrowmont School of Arts and crafts.  I'm particularly happy with the first one - of the Little Pigeon River. I wanted to capture the essence of those roots that were exposed and twisting all over the place.  I'm really pleased with this painting.

This next one was of an old farm up in the mountains - very rocky and rustic.  When we got there early in the morning, it was misty with the fog covering everything.  Really beautiful!  When I showed the painting to my mother (a photo of the painting), she asked, "What are those things in front?"  Guess I need to work on those rocks more.  LOL!

After I got home, I tried to paint the cabin from a different angle - but I didn't like the way it turned out - and I don't like it enough to work on it anymore.  I like the first one - so I will keep that one. I will probably toss or paint over the one below.

One day we went up in the mountains to a beautiful home right at the top of the mountain. Amazing place.  Along the road up the mountain, they had four different guest houses!  The driveway was 4 miles long.  The painting below was a "quick study" of the mountains in the distance. We used very thin oil paint to paint this - to give it a watercolor-esque look.  This was done on paper - with blue tape around the edges.  I finished the painting, peeled the tape off, and voila! it has a border. LOL!


I really loved the week at Arrowmont.

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