Thursday, December 8, 2011

"At Founders Park" (watercolor with white gouache; 9" x 9")

"At Founders Park" on my sketchbook page

Rick's demo of a "poster" figure study

My attempts at "poster" figure studies

Sunday's schedule was even more rigorous. For three hours, we had a model for our "poster" figure studies. Rick Weaver's main concern was most students' obsession with line drawing. We try to draw as precisely as we are capable of, then "color in." He would rather have us think in terms of color shapes. Color has four properties: hue (red, blue, yellow, etc.), chroma (color intensity), value (light and dark), and temperature (warm and cool). And the same color will appear differently, like a chameleon, depending on what surrounds it.  To paint in color is to play with fire.

Rick's answer was to do a series of "poster" figure studies.  The more, the better.  If you look at Rick's demo carefully, you will find eight color shapes: light and dark shapes for the head, hair, shirt, and background fabric.  We were told to "match" the overall color for each shape, being mindful of hue, chroma, value, and temperature.  Within each shape, there is a myriad of nuanced colors.  Forget those and come up with one color that describes the shape.  One should be able to tell the picture across the room as a woman with brown hair wearing a green shirt against an orange backdrop with a strong yellow light.  We did three of these quick studies.  The model came prepared with changes of clothes.

Rick doing a demo at Founders Park in Alexandria, VA

Rick's unfinished landscape demo

The view of winter bushes I chose to paint

After a quick lunch break, we went outside for a landscape exercise.  This is what I was hoping for, but didn't expect to happen.  How often do you get a perfect weather for outdoor painting in early December?  The fortune, however, favored us.  The warm late afternoon sun cast long cool shadows.  After watching Rick do a quick demo, we were given 45 minutes to do a plein-air landscape sketch.  Yes, really.  I painted the above scene, sitting on a small sketchbook, as the grass was wet and I didn't come prepared with a stool.  It took three minutes to set up the gear.  It would have taken 30 minutes to settle down to paint in oil! 

We returned to the classroom for the final parting words from Rick and goodbyes.  He said: do "poster" studies like a musician practices scales.  I took the workshop to learn to use watercolors like oils.  I learned that, and much more.  Thank you, Rick.

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