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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Part 2, of My Review of Tom Christopher’s Workshop

I have been in my art funk for a couple of years and hope this is the event that will bring me out of it.  It seems to be working.  I have always enjoyed painting the high desert which I find easier as I know it better.   We live in the Lost Pines now and visit the mountains in the hot weather.  I have been working on learning about painting trees for a few years and this workshop looked like the perfect way to make some additional progress.

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, Lou (Bag Blog) and I attended the Tom Christopher ( pastel workshop at the Eureka Springs School of Art in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in mid September. This is Part 2, you can read Part 1, here.  

Tom lives in Iowa and paints what he knows:  the landscape, rivers and trees in his area.  He stresses the importance of value. His painterly style is considerably looser than the way I generally work and I wanted to give it a shot.  As I mentioned in Part 1, this opportunity fit right in my plan.

When I say he paints looser, it means he doesn’t fill in all the details, leaving the viewer to complete the painting.  I hope I can add a bit more mystery to my work without giving up detail that I find important to the story I’m telling in my painting.

Tom begins with a very light and minimal sketch with pencil or charcoal.  If he has not worked out the values, he will do small value sketches.  

In this case, he had decided how he wanted to start this demo.  You can see he was working from a couple of photos for the textures and values.

He demonstrated how he starts his values by using a watercolor under painting.  He said the color is not important, just the values.  He used a purple gray for the dark, red for the midtone and left the paper white.

He then worked on color building up to the lighter values on the main tree area.  He uses a very light touch with the broad side of the pastel.  He only uses the edges of the pastel for fine lines if necessary.

After the demo we all started a painting with the watercolors and worked in Tom's style.  Lou and I used our own photos.  He had many reference photos on hand for us to try.

Lou’s underpainting with a start of pastel.

My underpainting with a bit of pastel.  I actually liked the under painting.  I don’t do many watercolors and it seemed pretty good to me.  Ha.

Lou’s second painting for the day, near "workshop finished" and Lou working.

My two paintings as finished as they got at the workshop.  Sometimes I work on paintings after the workshop and sometimes I just start new paintings.  The first painting is on Pastelbord, so I am working on that one at home.  Progress in another post.  

I plan to work on the second one as well.  I painted this scene before so we shall compare at the finish.  I’m not goint to show my finished painting yet, I don’t want it to influence this one.  I don't think I used the same composition, but it is from the same.

Tom spent time with each of us, helping to pick a photo, work on the composition and values.  He encouraged us to try to work with big shapes and what to leave out of a painting.  It is tempting to paint every tree, rock, building, etc.

We worked untl lunch and then started the second painting after lunch.

It was a great workshop art wise.  Tom said we have to "look and see" well to work that information into our paintings.  I have really been looking at trees  .... and values.

It was also a good time to get together with Lou and Toby, her husband.  Gene and Toby rode their bicycles and visited while Lou and I were in class.  We explored the downtown area and had some great dinners in the area.  On the weekend, David (our son) and Lisa, his wife, came down to Arkansas from Kenucky to deliver my shelf so we all had a good time.

 The four of us.

 The view from our deck.

 Our home away from home.

Downtown Eureka Springs

I didn't get a good photo of David and Lisa so I will post this photo from the wedding in August as I haven't posted those either.  David, Lisa, Nick, Christy, Cindy and Cole  It was a great wedding and lots of fun.

When I was planning how to do my posts about the workshop, I ran across this quote.  It seemed appropriate somehow.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. —Dwight Eisenhower


Bag Blog said...

Eureka Springs was a pretty place and fun too. You got some nice pics. Today I showed a bit of Tom's technique to one of my art girls; she loved it.

Joanna said...

I like your watercolor underpainting too!

Jo Castillo said...

Bag Blog, I have used watercolor under paintings for a while. Richard McKinley uses a much more detailed under painting and doesn't cover a lot of it. Beautiful work.

Joanna, thanks. I'm sure if I actually did a watercolor of the scene I would over work it and that would be that. Ha.

Joanna said...

Yep. Probably. :-)

Jo Castillo said...

Joanna, :-)

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About Me

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Bastrop, Texas, United States
I Grew up in a small town , Magdalena, New Mexico. I enjoy art and the pleasure other people get from my work. I always donate some of my sales and art to charities, especially for children. That started in Bolivia with Para los Niños. (Link on sidebar) "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns." -- Winston Churchill


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