Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Recap: Weekend with the Masters

I've had to postpone almost all productivity for the last few days since getting back from San Diego, because I am sick with a cold. I haven't been ill in over a year, so it has been somewhat alarming to get up out of a chair and feel dizzy, or pass out on my bed for three hours at a time. I am usually on the go from the moment I get up to the moment I go to sleep. This inconvenience has probably been a good thing, though. It has forced me to slow down, and truly digest what I've learned over the last few days.

Anyway, here is my recap from last week, September 5-9. I had the wonderful privilege of attending "Weekend with the Masters" at the Rancho Bernardo Inn near San Diego, CA. This was the first time I had gotten to attend this event, and I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the master artists and instructors were all weekend. I often found myself standing in line for lunch or coffee with one of my idols, or strolling down the hill to the main conference hall with some famous artist. I could ask as many questions as I wanted, and have real conversations with them. This was an artist's paradise!

Day 1: Rose Frantzen - "Finding Your Color Anchor"

Okay, who doesn't love Rose Frantzen?! Not only is she incredibly fun to watch when she paints, but she is honest, articulate, and informative. She is passionate about painting, but also passionate about her subjects. She draws something out from each and every one of her sitters, while leaving part of herself out there on the canvas. I feel truly honored to have been in her class, albeit for one day. I hope to study with her again sometime for a longer period!

She didn't have much time to finish her demo, but it still looked awesome. I took pages of notes, but perhaps one of the best things I took away from the class was Rose's statement, "Don't judge yourself prematurely. Every canvas is new and you have to work your way into it." I am often way too hard on myself, thinking I have to get it perfect every time, so this was encouraging to hear.

Below is my effort from the three-hour block we had in the afternoon. I didn't get to finish the ear because Rose wiped it out (I had it in the wrong spot because I had gotten sloppy in my drawing. I was more focused on color, which was the point of today's class...). But I think I'll finish it in my studio. I had a great vantage point to practice turning form with color, rather than value. The light was pretty much flat on the model's profile! Still, it made for a striking image.

Day 2: Daniel Gerhartz - "Training Your Eye to See"

I've been a Daniel Gerhartz fan for a very long time. Not only are his paintings breathtakingly beautiful, but he is also quite open about his Christian faith, which makes him a winner (and a brother!) in my book. And this weekend, I finally got to meet him!

I got some good progress shots of his demo, but somehow missed getting a picture of the final image. I guess I was too busy taking notes!

I was especially interested in how Dan kept his shadows warm and translucent, never going to the darkest dark in small pockets of shadow such as the holes in the nose or the corners of the mouth. For this reason, the darks had a wonderful feeling of luminosity and "air".  "Air," as I've discovered, is a popular word among Richard Schmid's circle, for describing luminous darks.

Below: my painting from the afternoon session. I really enjoyed working with our gorgeous model, Chelsey. She has been the muse for several of Jeremy Lipking and Alexey Steele's paintings, and I never thought I'd get to paint her! Dan suggested that I set up on the sidelines for a profile view. At first I resisted, having done a profile the day before. But when I saw how beautiful the light was on Chelsey, I immediately set up there and started working. I painted with more freedom and panache than usual on this one, thanks to Dan's inspiring demo. What fun!!

Day 2 - Evening Session - Rose Frantzen and Sherrie McGraw each painted a portrait of the same subject, which happened to be my good friend, Michael Mentler! The two women have very different personalities and painting styles, and they were quite entertaining.

Day 3: Stephen Early - "Form Painting the Figure"

Stephen Early is an instructor at Nelson Shanks' school, Studio Incamminati. I have enjoyed seeing his figure work for the past few years and so I hoped to gain some fresh insight from him. I related quite well with his method for blocking in light and shadow. He uses the light and shadow values to "chisel" out form, back and forth. The best part about this method is that it takes pressure off from feeling like you've got to get it right from the start. Here are a couple of progress pictures from his demo. Beautiful and simply stated!

And below, my afternoon efforts at form painting... I really wish they gave us six hours to paint instead of three!

Day 4: Robert Liberace - "The Classical Figure: A Modern Approach"

By day 4, I was pretty wiped out, but I still enjoyed watching master figure painter Robert Liberace paint his morning demo.

I debated about painting in the afternoon, since I was so tired... but painting won out! Here is my sketch from Rob's class. He had some helpful pointers... however, since I wasn't particularly happy with my vantage point (the light fell off at the legs, making them look very dark - almost like she was wearing pantyhose), I ended up wiping it all off when I got back to my hotel room. But I have this picture of it as evidence that I did, in fact, put in the work! :-)

Other highlights of the event were demos in between sessions, as well as evening events. Below: Michael Mentler did a beautiful drawing demo of the Three Graces.

Michelle Dunaway and Ryan Brown painting Chelsey on the last night, during the silent auction fundraiser for the California Art Club.

All in all, it was a wonderful event and I learned a lot, coming back with some wet paintings, some cool new art supplies to try, and pages of notes! I'm looking forward to seeing my art heroes again next time and showing them how much I've learned.

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