After arriving and settling in on Sunday, participants joined together at five to meet with their mentor and other artists in their groups; it seems there are about eighty-five of us gathered in the green hills of southwestern Vermont for Week One. Christopher Chippendale (www.christopherchippen-dale.com) is a Boston-based painter who will be shepherding eleven others and me through this week. Five of us painted together last summer, so it has been great to reconnect with them and already have a core group feeling of camaraderie; several others have been in courses with Christopher in the past, so there seems to be a nice energy early on. Our first session, after dinner Sunday night, included a pretty inspiring slide presentation that was filled with a number of my favorite artists and paintings as well as some works unfamiliar to me. Euan Uglow is a good "for instance" (http://paintingperceptions.com/figure-painting/euan-uglow). He isn't a landscape painter, but his figure work includes beautifully painted surfaces...a great new reference for me.
Monday morning, 8:15, several cars were stowed with everyone's gear to haul to the morning site. The goal for each day is an a.m. and afternoon painting. The sites on campus are beautiful as is the surrounding area. Everyone expects the hills and vistas of Vermont to be stunning, but the architecture, whether it's grand or simple or squalor, is magically lit by the sun in the mountains.
Jennings Hall is a mansion-like edifice that sits atop a long hill at the north end of the campus. I set myself up in the shade and focused on a geranium-topped, vine-covered cement post and the greenery surrounding it. For the life of me I can't use oils to paint foliage well (part of the reason I'm here), so there was Monday morning's goal. That's the painting you see at the top of this blog page (8 x 16, oil; as I edit this and add images, it is Sunday the 22nd. Please feel free to critique or provide feedback on any of the paintings.
Monday afternoon we moved downhill to an area where we could select views with lots of shade or sunlight, so I looked up the hill toward the Jennings Mansion (painting is at the end of the blog-not my favorite of the week, so not much to say).
Produced two paintings on Tuesday that I feel were pretty successful. In the morning we moved to the northern end of campus by faculty housing...after meandering the neighborhood, I focused on a short lane with beautiful shadows blanketing its surface, some dappled sunlight in there - and a sun-soaked car parked somewhat askew in the driveway of the home at the end of the lane. The light was hitting everything perfectly. So I set up the French easel, organized the palette, sketched quickly on the canvas and began to mix color. Laid in a few "color spots", (fortunately) before the light changed entirely. As I grappled with that, I watched a family exit the house carrying towels and a picnic basket; they then drove off in the car leaving a bit of a void in my motif. Shortly after their departure there arrived a different vehicle; it, too, came and went before dad returned in the original car. Figuring I better work quickly, I plopped some color in there to at least hold the space and, sure enough, off he drove. The painting will need a few studio touch-ups, but here it is:
Friday was another not so successful day as far as results, but the inherent learning is there. Again, a few lessons: 1. Even though the French easel's legs adjust for a couple of hours of painting on a hilly slope, 57 year-old legs do not, and 2. The glasslike reflective surface of early morning water on a lake is shattered by swimmers.
Enough written to help me remember the week. If you want to know any more, drop me a line. Tonight begins next week's workshop, "The Head Examined", with Catherine Kehoe. I've been looking forward to this since January, so hopefully I will produce several interesting and successful portraits.