Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Portrait Workshop

Last weekend I went to Raleigh for a portrait painting workshop. Now, if you've looked at my web site, you know that portraits are not something I focus on. But I saw this as an opportunity to learn something from people who do portraits for a living. And it worked out very well.

On Friday night there was a portrait demo by Dawn Whitelaw. She talked her head off while painting and I scribbled 6 pages of notes as fast as my little hand could scribble. (Side note: Talking while painting is hard. Both activities use very different areas of the mind and I, for one, can't switch back and forth very well. She did, though.) I learned quite a few things about color mixing and paint application.

For example, Dawn uses a rather radical palette. Most painters start with two reds, two yellows, two blues, probably a couple of earth colors, a white, and more than likely a few other favorites. Not Dawn. She had one red (napthol), one yellow (cad yellow light), one blue (ultramarine), and titanium white. That was it. And she still managed to come up with an impressive variety of colors on the canvas.

On Saturday, there was a workshop run by Dawn and Ed Jonas. I tried out a number of the things Dawn talked about and got some feedback from both of the instructors. At the end of the day, I walked away with some new skills and a better understanding of my own capabilities and limitations. Not a bad weekend's work!

Now back to the real world. I came down with a bug of some sort on the trip and am still fighting it. Today is election day. This weekend will be our fall Studio Stroll, where all the artists in our area (over 70) open our studios to the public. And next week I have a show of my etchings going up. So I'm trying to get the studio in shape for visitors, get some work ready for presentation in both the Stroll and the show, get rid of the bug, and fight a bad case of the "I don't care's" (probably brought on by the bug). And all the while, there's a really neat painting leaning against the wall in my studio that desperately needs to be finished.

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