Thursday, July 22, 2010

Raven Painting Demonstration

Have I kept you waiting long enough?

As I had mentioned in a previous post, the Seerey-Lesters were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge at the painting workshop I attended a few weeks ago now. They encouraged us to take pictures as John demonstrated the concepts, so that we could reference these photos later and refresh our memories. And they very kindly gave me permission to share these photos on my blog.

John is working on a masonite panel with a coat of mid-value gray. He uses this technique so that darks and lights are immediately apparent. In this first picture, he is painting in the main dark and light areas of a raven, after using vine charcoal to sketch the basic shape of the bird onto the panel. The model was a taxidermy specimen.

The following sequence of photos show how he develops the scene. He uses very thin washes of acrylic, building up the details and textures with each wash. Almost all of this painting was done using a rake brush (like a flat brush, but with the tips of the hairs clipped in an almost sawtooth pattern to provide a great brush for textures and very thin lines.) They are amazingly versatile brushes, but rather hard to find. I ended up having to buy my Loew-Cornell rake brushes online for the workshop, but now I'm hooked on them.

Once John was happy with the values, he began to add thin washes of color.

Here is John Seerey-Lester's finished painting with the model. John completed this in about 4 hours, while talking us through what he was doing and answering questions along the way. Some lucky person attending the workshop bought this painting. How cool is that to have a painting hanging in your house that you actually watched the artist paint!?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Memoriam

I am very sad to report that one of my muses died yesterday. We're not sure of what or how. Yesterday morning she was fine and then our landlords found her dead under the coop yesterday afternoon. She was such a beautiful chicken. I hope that she is now in a vast eternal cornfield with lots of grasshoppers and no foxes.


I know that I had given you a workshop teaser last week, and then haven't posted since. Well, as these things seem to go, I was so excited to get home and start trying out all of the new painting information I learned at the workshop and then I promptly got sick. At first I thought it was just an annoying summer cold coming on, but no, it was my body telling me that I'd overdone it for long enough and I needed to take it easy whether I liked it or not. It is rather hard to argue when you feel like you've been hit by a freight train, so once I could crawl home from the work week, I basically slept the weekend away. By Sunday evening, I finally felt like I had enough energy to start a painting. My chosen subject matter will probably not surprise you.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how much information my brain was able to retain from the workshop and I could instantly see a difference in my painting. The lighting for this photo is not the best, but hopefully you get the idea. I am looking forward to continuing to practice more techniques from the workshop and trying to hone my painting skills!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Few More Chickens and a Workshop

I'm still enamored with "our" chickens. This page was sketched during their feeding time this evening.

I am seriously tired. Like please-let-me-sleep-an-entire-week-away tired. My in-laws came for a visit at the end of June. The motherboard/server at work that stores all of our customers' files, graphics, past ads, photos, logos, you name it, died and we had to start every project we'd been working on from scratch. (Yes, there was a backup but it took two days just to access that. Deadlines wouldn't wait.) A lot of overtime hours were racked up that week! Our IT guy took it in stride saying "Well, I didn't know if I could still pull 36 hour days at my age, but I guess I still can.". (and yes, our IT guy is waaaaay more tired than I am, so I shouldn't be complaining.) And then I just got back from a week-long painting workshop.

A painting workshop? I know, I know: poor me. But let me tell you; spending a week doing exactly what you want with like-minded people and fantastic instructors IS exhausting! My brain is so full. But it was an amazing experience. The workshop was held in Bend, Oregon through Art in the Mountains and our instructors were John and Suzie Seerey-Lester. I couldn't believe that I was able to take advantage of this opportunity - so often I can't afford to go to an art workshop because I'd need to fly just to get there, then rent a car, etc., etc., or I find out about the workshop after I've used up all my vacation time at work. This one was just a (long) day's drive away AND it was specifically focused on wildlife painting AND with artists whose work I was familiar with and who had good teaching reputations. I feel so lucky that everything came together for me to be able to do this.

I'll be blogging more about the workshop over the next few weeks as the experience sinks in. I learned so much and am now very anxious to put it all into practice. Here are a few pictures from the workshop to tide you over:

John Seerey-Lester starts a raven painting for a class demonstration.

Another day, another painting. The Seerey-Lesters put their all into the workshop,
teaching all day and then giving us extra instruction time in the evenings. Clearly they love to paint and love to teach. John also tells some great ghost stories.