Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Workshop in Maine with Stapleton Kearns

I went to Acadia, Maine last weekend for a three-day workshop with master painter Stapleton Kearns. The first day, we painted on top of some large rocks on the shoreline in Thunder Hole. It was warm and sunny mostly and quite pretty that day. Stape began with a demo with an underpainting in burnt sienna. He worked up a lot of the drawing into precise details. It was interesting to watch him use his large brush to work in the rocks and hills. He recommended that we work on the largest areas first, but keep working on different areas rather than finishing one area before going on to the next.

The next two days we spend painting at Ship's Harbor on the south side of the island near Bass Harbor. We had a short hike, though it seemed long when you had to carry a bunch of painting equipment, to a great spot near the water with beautiful pine trees hugging the shore. Both days were gray with mist and clouds, so it made for a softer, cooler painting. The colors were more intense but muted by the atmosphere, rather than a lot of light bouncing off of objects and desaturating the color.

Stape started out with a demo on the first day in Ship's Harbor with a purple underpainting, because of the cool light filtering through the picture. He then added color, working all over the canvas, bringing up one area and then another. Many of us had too short a range of values, with too little darks and too few lights. We tended to stay in the middle ranges. Perhaps the grayness of the day influenced our decisions. He did say that we needed to hone our drawing skills and work with larger brushes.  He told me to take a value scale and compare it to photos of masters' paintings so that I can see their range of values. Getting the values right is not as easy as it sounds. I hope to take this painting and work on it more at home this week.

The group was a fun mix of artists and art lovers, all enjoyable to be with. It was small, there were only ten of us, which is the best size, I think. I even met an artist from Durham, the next town over from mine. That was a coincidence.
The rain kept threatening by the end of the day on Monday, so I packed up and drove home. I would have loved to stay another day, but not with a forcast of rain.  It was a long drive, 7.5 hours, but it went okay. I will go back again on my own maybe next spring. I want to see more of the park and do some hiking. What a great place to paint and hike!


Susan Roux said...

Hi Patty. I really enjoyed meeting you and painting with you. It felt like a whirlwind weekend and suddenly we're back to routine, like it was all a dream. Hope the lessons you learned will help along the way. Good luck and stay in touch!

claire christinel said...

Hi Patty, Thanks for sharing these great plein air tips. Values are a real challenge to get right. I always find it's the darks I have to go back in and push. I can see from the photos that the light was a challenge. It's so much easier when there are contrasting shadows and light.

Patty Meglio said...

Hi, Claire,

You are welcome. Yes, I am always fighting with values. I noticed that at Stape's workshop, I was not alone. I guess it's part of the process of learning.

Thanks for commenting.