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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back from Artists' Boot Camp!

"Morning at the Camp"
 I am back from Bill Cone's pastel plein air workshop in the Sierra Buttes area.  It was a LOT of fun, a LOT of work, and the group of artists a GREAT bunch - not to mention Bill himself!  We were such a fun group that a few members of a different study group (the Spiders of the Sierras!) hung out with us at mealtimes.

Bill demonstrated on the days that we were in wide open spaces where 14 people could gather around.  Other times the terrain did not allow many people to watch him work, so many of us did our own paintings nearby and when Bill was done he made rounds giving us pointers.  Each night we had an informal critique, and many evenings he had slide shows and lectures. 

We all were so appreciative of his giving us a week of his vacation time from his full-time job, to give us instruction and guidance.

Most of us artists stayed at the campus "camp", staying in tents, and eating meals prepared by the staff in the dining hall.  We had no visiting bears, but we were warned not to have food in our tent.  One night I SWORE there was a bear outside our tent, scuffling around, but it turned out to be my tent-buddy, my artist friend Ida, searching for her flashlite!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Going to a plein air workshop with Bill Cone

I'm packing my pastels and sleeping bag - for a 5-day pastel plein air workshop with Bill Cone.  Bill's full time job is an artist at Pixar Studios.  But he is a fantastic pastellist on the side!  See his art on his blog: .  This workshop is taking place at the San Francisco State University Extension Campus in the Sierra Buttes area of the Sierra Nevadas in Northern California (sort of near Sierra City).  The campus is a camp - complete with tents and someone cooks for us at the camp dining room!  I don't know if we get cell service there.  And I don't know if they have wifi for us artists.  So, again, I will post my experience when I get back.  See ya then!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Little Sprinkles of Sunshine" a pastel painting

After getting home from Albert Handell's workshop, I worked on this painting and finished it.  I had only done about 20 minutes at the workshop before we adjorned to the final critique.  It was a wonderful workshop and I learned so much and felt I went to another level. 

So much excitement when I got home - the pavers are putting in the backyard patio and walkways, a friend has been putting a TV on the wall in the livingroom with speakers and other such techno gagets for listening to music, I did more schlepping stuff over and unpacking and trying to "set up house", and I finished the office set up.  So today was the first day I painted in my studio!  Yay!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Cone Flowers" Albert Handell Workshop Day 5

On our last day we spent the entire day at a private home and gardens.  This was my morning painting.  We had the option to do a paint-along, but Albert was in the gazebo and there wasn't room for any more in there, and with SO many beautiful flowers and scenes to choose from, we all dispersed.

This painting of cone flowers and it's neighboring flowers was done with watercolor first, then the pastel over it.  Albert showed me a little technique up in the right-hand side under the white flowers.  He drew little curved lines under the white flowers with vine charcoal to subtly give texture like leaves in shadow and also add to the rhythm.  His theme for teaching us to paint nature scenes was to capture and portray "rhythm".  I think this was an important lesson I learned, and now I try to think of music while sketching the scene and how it might relate to the rhythm of the plants. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Forest Vignette" Albert Handell workshop, Day 4 late in the day

4:00 pm is a pretty time to paint.  The light comes through the trees at an angle.  This was done again by paint-along method.  This time, I was directly behind Albert and actually could not see what he was looking at, so I just looked at his painting and tried to copy it as he went.  Some of my pastel colors did not match, so I had to blend two together to try to get the same color.

This was a painting done in a vignette style - where the painting doesn't go out to ever corner and some of the paper shows around the edges.

Not bad, if I say so myself!  I think I'm getting it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"House in the Forest" Handell Workshop Day 4

On this day, Albert did a paint-along.  If you have never done a paint-along, this is how it goes:  the teacher sets up, paints a subject, and all of the students set up behind him/her and do everything they do - step by step, color by color, stroke by stroke.  So, you try to learn while copying without any talking - just doing.

In this case, there was no room for all of us right behind, so we were at various angles, so, our paintings all had different perspectives of the house.  No matter, it was still interesting.  FYI this was done with a watercolor underpainting, and I did my own variation at the base of the trees.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Rocks Over There" Handell Workshop Day 3

"Rocks Over There"
After I moved away from the stream and the dogs, our painting group and teacher moved up the trail into the trees.  Here I worked on the rocks and trees.  I am trying to do the late afternoon light on the trees, but I do not have the same talent of Albert Handell, but I keep trying.  His demos and his pointers and critiques of my work in progress really help.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Sketch of a Stream" Handell Workshop Day 3

"Sketch of a Stream"
On the third day, Albert demonstrated a rushing stream and how to do water.  It was fantastic!!!!  So, in the afternoon, we went to a park and I set up by the stream.  I did the watercolor underpainting and it came out almost good enough to leave as is.  Then I added some vine charcoal accents (one of Albert's techniques) and then my first passages of pastel.....when two big dogs splashed into the water right in front of me and tried to run through my tripod holding my pastel box and easle, and stepped in my watercolor palette on the ground!!!!  So, I decided to move out of that location and did not finish this painting....but I kind of like it as it is!  I may use it as a reference and do another in the studio.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Madrones" Handell Workshop Day 2

On the second day we visited a private home situated on a hillside that had a view that stretched out so far that you could see the snow-capped sierras in the background.  We had a choice to do that kind of scene and work on aerial perspective, or do the gardens and flowers.  Albert demonstrated the garden flowers and I chose to do the Madrone trees with the view.  (Someone forgot to turn off the sprinklers in the garden!!!!)
watercolor underpainting

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Light Coming Throught the Trees" Albert Handell Workshop - Day One

"Light Coming Through the Trees"
watercolor underpainting with some charcoal strokes

I just got back from a 5-day workshop with Albert Handell.  Grass Valley, California is just far enough away to NOT commute, so I stayed at a local artist's home.  It was great to be totally immersed in art for a long stretch of time.  The pictures above are of my painting in the afternoon of the first day.

Albert did a demo in the morning showing the watercolor underpainting technique.  We are all working on white Kitty Wallis sanded paper.  One of Albert's techniques that I learned was the use of soft vine charcoal to give more texture and linear strokes to trees and branches.  It is a very lovely way to add texture and softness at the same time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Off to a pastel plein air workshop with Albert Handell

I am packing for a 5-day workshop to be given by Albert Handell in Grass Valley, California.  Check out his website here:   He does amazing work.  I am really looking forward to:  1) learning lots from a fantastic pastellist; 2) painting again since I haven't had time due to moving; 3) making new art friends, and 4) having a BREAK and a REST from moving!!!

I am staying at someone's home and they do not do computers and internet.  So, I'll take lots of pictures and post them as soon as I get home - along with some descriptions of the week.

See ya then!