Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Its Figurative

I was fortunate enough to land a seat in Chris Gargan's summer figure drawing class. The class was three weeks long, with 8 hours of classtime per day. Some people freaked a little when I told them about the commitment, but for me it was great, even waking up at 5:30 am to get there on-time was worth it. This is the 37th year that Chris has taught the class, and he has developed a curriculum and style of delivery that is unique to him. Like me, Chris has a background in education, he got his Art Education degree and also his MFA from UW Madison. He worked as a teacher in the public schools before taking his post at MATC (I believe that they renamed the school Madison College, but it will always be MATC to me)

The class was very interesting to me because I got to see how he teaches, knowing what I know after graduating with a degree in art ed. Chris doesn't merely lecture, or demonstrate, or set the time for the pose, he actively participates in the education of his students. He does this in several different ways. For instance, the study of anatomy might not be of interest for some students, and some demonstrations might get a little long (not for me, but remember, I'm super interested). Instead of merely allowing students to die on the vine (technical educational term) and pass off responsibility onto the students, Chris takes the responsibility onto himself. He will follow some technical information with a funny story that relates to what he is teaching, which acts as a tie down in his students minds, and keeps them awake.

We covered a lot of ground in the class. We never stuck with a media for more than one day. We drew in several traditional medias including: Charcoal, Conte, Ballpoint Pen (is this traditional? It's sweet), Pen and Ink, Heightened Charcoal, Ink Wash, Pen and Ink Heightened with White Gesso, Acrylic, and Watercolor.

My favorite day of class, was when Chris gave his lecture on aesthetics. He contrasted the illustrative work of Stanislav Prokopenko with the visual economy Sherrie McGraw. Chris, of course has a deep respect for anyone who can draw at Proko's level, but asked his students to anaylize the content and feeling that they got from each of their work. This led many to convert to the McGraw edge of the spectrum. It was moments such as these that set the class above others figure room experiences that I have had. To be able to discuss the subjective nature of aesthetics with a class of 20 somethings, and to have them walk away with new, substantial ideas, was impressive.

Anybody around me knows that I am hungry to take my drawing skills to the next level, it can only lead to better paintings. I am not a naturally skilled drawer. Let me rephrase that, my temperment is not one that naturally facilitates skillful drawing. Some drawing media, like pencils, or ballpoint pen are just so small, that it's not easy to cover a large surface. I paint with big brushes, because I like to be able to do things quickly and broadly, and then move in for the specifics.So, some people are good at drawing, with those tiny pencils and pens, and because Chris has taught the class so often, he recognized that I am not, and showed me ways to combine my painterly ways with the techniques that he taught .

I know that I got my money's worth out of the class. I would pay just to hang out with Chris. I feel fortunate that he is my friend, and that he let's me tag along with him to go out painting. If you are a painter, or drawer, or sculpter, or whatever you are, who wants to take your work to the next level, do it. Figure out one component skill of the media that you are working with that you would like to improve upon, put it into words, and then attack it with passion.


We made sketchbooks in the screenprinting and binding department

My friend, Nick Loveland, and Chris showing the class how to bind the sketchbooks.


Chris giving a pen and ink demo

Pen and ink, with wash heightened with gesso.

Chris setting up for a two color acrylic demo.

I used baltic blue and yellow ochre in this piece.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Summer Farm






It has been a long winter. Spring is nearly here, and these cool days are great for all outdoor activities. Just smelling the air is worth going outside. There is rain in the forecast for five of the next seven days, and then it will be time for the big bloom.
I stocked up on a few of my favorite spring colors this week. I enjoy mixtures based on naples yellow light and prussian blue for some fresh spring greens this time of year. The painting shown above does not reflect that, it was painted in the summer, with plenty of lemon yellows thrown into the lit up corn stalks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Peninsula Still Life

This still life is headed to a show at the Guenzel Gallery, at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek. 22 painters received the same five objects to set up and paint, and the show is named Five Objects of Inspiration. I originally wanted to paint under natural light, but after several cloudy days in a row, I decided to do exactly the opposite. The still life was lit by a blue party light.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Wind


Snow covered the fresh green grass two nights ago. The car door made a convenient wind break this morning, and my easel stood solid on top of this ridge.



Here is a overview of my spring workshop series. Last weekend, I gave my first workshop in what seemed like a long time. The workshop focused on painting the interior. We talked about values, and how to create the illusion of sunlight happening outside of a window, and pouring into the space. On the final day of the workshop, a storm rolled in while I was halfway through my demo painting. The sky was so dark, that the streetlights, which were a part of my composition, turned on. This dramatic change allowed for a teachable moment. Changing light is something that we deal with daily when painting from life and I was happy to work through the changes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Broadway Street, Baraboo, Wisconsin

This is Baraboo Wisconsin, again. This was painted in early February, when there was still plenty of snow on the rooftops and streets.
I was invited to paint on a private home's deck, and took them up on the opportunity. I was pretty secluded, and on the second day the owner was not home, but knowing that I had an open opportunity, I set up and went to work. A car pulled into the driveway, and not knowing who it was made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as the time the kids were shooting a gun over my head in the country, but even so. Everything turned out alright this time, as the visitor was the owners son, who was just checking the bird feeder.
These little midwestern towns are the places that I call home, and I love painting around here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Late Winter Sun


I've been painting smaller pieces, such as this 11 x 14" canvas, with the goal of clearing my voice. I will work my way back up to painting some larger pieces, but for now it seems like making several paintings in a day is the way to progress.
In painting, it is easy to second guess every move, but I just allowed myself to paint this one quickly, and let the accuracy happen. When I look at my favorite painters work, I can feel some of this as well, so I am glad when it happens to me.
The sun shines once in a while during Mud Season, and I was glad it did on this day.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Summer in Baraboo

We had some nice temperatures this past weekend, never mind the wind. This is a 16 x 20" painting from late last summer. The green grass gives me a good feeling to look at. It isn't yellow ochre mud color grass, but real sunkissed yellow green grass.
The building is the back of a bar in Bararboo, I believe it's named Gem City. There is an apartment on the top of the bar, and the Baraboo river is directly to the right of where I was standing. I have been painting some larger canvases in Baraboo during the mud season, and I'm hoping to finish them soon, at least before the trees and flowers bloom.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Terrytown Barns

Sunlight is my favorite condition to paint in, I'm sure it is the same for many painters. The sunlight casts shadows, which create shapes to design the canvas with.
A barrista at the local coffee shop commented that March gives the feeling of a hangover to those who don't drink. I haven't had a drink in a while, and I sort of enjoy the overcast days for reasons other than painting.
To me, these dreary winter days feel neutralized. I do not get a big rush when painting them, it is more of a steady pace rather than a chase. These barns have also felt the steady pace of season after season beating them up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Workshop at Blue Heron


I have posted my 2014 workshop schedule on a new tab, just above this post. The first workshop is coming up quickly, and is a workshop that is going to be held in the studio space above Blue Heron. I have been teaching a 6 week drawing class at UW-Baraboo, and am excited to get back into the swing of teaching. If you would like to hear more about the workshops, you can drop me a line at blksquirl85@yahoo.com

Monday, March 24, 2014

Baraboo

This is Baraboo Wisconsin, a town that sits between two bluffs. I've spent time in Baraboo painting over the past five or so years, and this is an interesting vantage point that overlooks the downtown, with the Devil's lake bluff in the background.