It has been an interesting and educating two days here at the workshop. Unfortunately the weather continues to be problematic, so we worked inside from the model on Tuesday. I will say that we had a terrific model who looked like he could have come out of an Italian Renaissance painting. Since Ken Backhaus' segment of the workshop deals with painting the figure within a landscape, we spent our time studying proportions, drawing, and values. I worked from the figure a lot in college but it has been a while since I've worked from a live model and I'd forgotten how challenging and rewarding it is. I think I will definitely continue this pursuit when I get back home, because even though I am a landscape painter, understanding the challenging human form instructs you on many levels. I wish I could post some picutres but alas my camera software has refused to download any pictures from my camera. I'm not sure what is going on with it, but as it is, I only have a limited amount of time that I can use the computer and I just haven't been able to mess with it.
Ken has had us work mainly in one-hour sessions. One of his main challenges to us has been to get us to commit to an idea (what do we want to say in this painting? what is our point of interest?) and then lay in the major shapes and values in broad strokes. Broad strokes doesn't mean just slapping the paint on hapazardly though. Every stroke must have meaning and intent. It was really helpful to me to work in this way. Having the time limit challenges the artist to make informed decisions and commit to them, and not to just futz and noodle endlessly with the painting. It gives a decisiveness to the work rather than having it look too worked over. This is the way with plein air painting also. The challenge is to commit to a statement of light, even if it shifts and changes as the painting progresses. So while I may have preferred to be painting outdoors on location, the figure studies really helped me to have some "ah-ha" moments.
Day three- The weather finally cooperated! We went outside to hickory nut farm and painted a beautiful autumn scene in a pasture. Some of the farm horses wandered up to where we were so that they could check us out. Ken placed the model at a distance in the landscape so that we could incorporate her into a broader scene. Even though the figure was small in comparison to the rest of the scene, her proportions had to be right or else it threw off your entire painting. I must say I was very happy with my results. I chose an angle that gave me the most beautiful backlighting on the model, the surounding shrubs, and the autumn foliage of the trees.
Since this may have been our only opportunity, weather-wise, I and one of the other painters also went out after class and painted on our own. We found a beautiful rolling vista with dramatic colors and cows and horses in the pasture. It was around 5 p.m. by the time we set up and I knew the light would change very rapidly at this time so I chose a small 6x8 pochade. It was plenty big, really, as the sun quickly dropped behind the mountain.