Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Spring Rock Garden" (oil on linen; 8" x 10")

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I just came back from the five-day workshop with Gregory Packard in Richmond, VA. As you may remember, I took another workshop two weeks ago with Dreama Tolle Perry, which blew me away.  What can I say?  I got blown away for the second time in a month.  It is exciting and bewildering to be esthetically challenged by two totally different approaches to painting.  So it will take some time for me to digest what I have learned this past month and make it part of my own esthetics.  I will share what I got out of the workshop with Greg in next several posts.  

The first thing I must say is that Greg Packard is a nice guy.  He is young in his late 30's and has already garnered fame and success that many artists would love to achieve but don't necessarily do.  You wouldn't know this by talking to him because he is such a down-to-earth and modest person.  But what about his art? He is famous for his gloriously vibrant floral still lifes.  Happily for the workshop participants, he did a demo of a peony painting on the first day.

Before the demo, however, he showed us how to mix grays.  Yes, grays turned out to be the secret to his art.  If you can mix lovely grays, you can create lovely paintings. That is Greg Packard's bottom line.

He squeezed out loads of paint onto his large palette.  Don't be stingy with paints.  He actually used an entire large tube of white paint for the demo painting!  We were awe-struck as he finished a dazzling 20" x 16" painting in just two hours.  And he did so by starting out with mid-tone grays.  He reserved the lights, darks, and bright colors until the last stage of the painting.  I have never seen anybody painting like this!

After the lunch break, it was our turn to paint.  I was so intimidated by the demo that I had a hard time getting started.  I picked the photo of a rock garden with phlox and sedum, mixed my own grays, and came up with "Spring Rock Garden."  Greg was profuse with praise.  What do you think of my "gray" painting?  


  1. Just in time for my annual Peony Quest...I want to try this.

  2. This is a wonderful demonstration. I'm getting ready to mix some grays. My peonies won't be in bloom for 4 or 5 days. Thank you for describing each step of the demonstration so well. Your painting looks great.

  3. No, Greg made it himself. It's much bigger. He said his studio easel of the same design is much bigger. The way he mixes paints, he really needs a big palette. Thanks for the comments, Jo and Carol!

  4. Does he mix honest to goodness greys, or does he mix toned versions of the colors around the color wheel? Does he vary his palette of "base colors" from which he mixes his greys according to his subject matter? This sounds like it's going to be a spectacular workshop. You certainly started off with a bang...your painting is fabulous.

  5. Thanks, Susan! His grays are luminous, mixed from pure colors. He mixes "primaries" first, then from them, mixes "secondary" and "tertiary" grays. Yes, he varies his palette depending on the subject matter and lighting. But he also "recycles" his piles of grays from the day before and comes up with another fabulous painting! I am hooked on grays. I think I've just opened a new chapter in my painting career. Lots of things are beginning to make sense.