Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maurice River Plein Air Workshop; Patrick Connors.

This is the fabled "Burcham Farm," situated on a hill that has a wonderful, expansive view of the
Maurice River. Its' lush green fields are actually lower than the water level of the river, and are
protected from flooding by dikes. Pat Witt's childhood friends, Janice and Jeanette Burcham, were twins,
and until their recent deaths, they ran a very active and productive working farm here, raising sheep and pigs, baling hay, and selling eggs from their many chickens, ducks, and geese. The farm is over 130 years old.
 For many, many years, Pat has been bringing students and instructors here, to paint the  farm and its' limitless, wonderful views and cloudscapes. In spite of threatening skies, optimistic students showed up for our second day of the workshop, ready to paint, and learn.

 The instructor was Patrick Connors, who teaches at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
For his demo, we decided to play it safe, and gather on the porch. We soon found out why Patrick is
such a popular instructor at PAFA. Patrick is encyclopedic in his knowledge of Art History, and techniques
and their origins. And he is one very funny Dude!

He introduced us to classical methods of "Representational" painting, explaining in great detail the use of painting methods with wonderful Italian names." Imprimatura, Velutra, Chiaroscuro", and the always popular "Bozzeti," which is the plural of "Bozzeto," as we all now know.

 Here is Patrick's version of the classical "Earth Palette." His medium is one part Blond Linseed Oil,
and one part Mineral Spirits.

And here are examples of Patrick's "studies," which he passed around to students.

Patrick chose elements from this view out towards the Maurice River, for his demo.

On his previously prepared colored "ground," he sketched  the shapes in the landscape, painted the
"Darks," then with a rag  went back into the wet paint, for the "rubbing out", of the "Lights."
This left a transparent and glowing image, much like a water color. Quite beautiful in itself.

But in this demo, that was merely the "Under-painting." Following the rule of "Fat over Lean," he then started
to apply very considered passages of opaque paint, laying each stroke onto the surface with a "loaded" brush.
Because it was time for a lunch break, ("Pizzeria" being another fond Italian word) Patrick decided to end his demo with this unfinished painting.

 After lunch the students found sites to paint, for the rest of the afternoon.

Patrick made the rounds, offering his thoughts on each artist's work-in-progress.

Despite a few brief showers, this second workshop day provided students opportunities to explore
the concepts introduced to them by Patrick Connor, a very talented painter and instructor.
I had to leave around 5 P.M., so I missed the late afternoon-early evening landscape session,
taught by another wonderful artist and instructor, Ruth Formica. Everyone loves painting at the
Burcham Farm.     


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Maurice River School Plein Air Workshop; 2010. Day One.

Last Sunday afternoon students gathered under the trees at the the Barn Studio of Art,
in Millville, N.J., for the welcoming "Meet and Greet." This was the second Maurice River
School Plein Air Painting Workshop, and the class size had doubled after last year's very
successful initial outing. In fact, sadly, students had to be turned away this year.

During the week that followed, students had access to the teaching of five
experienced Artist/Instructors, each offering their expertise in a variety of mediums,
aesthetics, and painting. On a very hot and humid Monday, we met at the Leesburg Ship Yard,
at the edge of the Maurice River.

Stan Sperlak was the instructor for this first day, sharing his knowledge of Pastel,
starting with a demo, which took about an hour to complete. He also encouraged students to
not set up too close to the shoreline, out of respect for a family of nesting Ospreys.

Here is Stan's finished demo.

The students then found sites to paint on the grounds of  the now deserted, but very historic,
boat yard. Rule number one when painting outdoors (if possible) find a shady spot!
Some students braved the sunshine; others brought their own shade.

And most found refuge in the shadows of the silent buildings.  

Here is an almost completed student work, with her preliminary rough concept sketch.

About an hour before the long day ended, Stan did another quick demo, just to make some
final points about showing "atmosphere," in the humid late afternoon light.

Here is "atmosphere" of another kind, one we looked forward to on most nights as the week
progressed.  Always accompanied by good food and drinks, and reflections on the day's efforts.
On this first night; the "Oar House Pub," in Millville, with our "Mentor," Pat Witt, on the right.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Being an Artist is Hard Work.

This past week was a very busy, and demanding one, for me, in regards to wearing my "Arteest's" hat.
I'll elaborate in my next post. But starting tomorrow, at four P.M., an even busier week will begin.
I will be wearing my "Instructor's" hat, teaching for the week with four other instructors, at the second annual  "Maurice River School Plein Air Painting Workshop," in South Jersey.

Week after next I'll do a post about the week's adventures, but for now, here are some images from our
first workshop, last year. Everyone involved is delighted to know our enrollment has more than doubled
this year, totaling twenty five students. Here is the woman responsible for the founding of "The Barn Studio
of Art," in 1965, Pat Witt. As Millville's "Artist Laureate," she is the ultimate Artist and  Muse, radiating the
"Art Spirit" to generations over these many years.

Pennsylvania Academy Associate Professor and artist, Jill Rupinski, presenting her insightful thoughts
on the use of Pastels, at the edge of the pond at the Barn Studio.

Students enduring the hot sun and sand at one of our many painting sites, East Point Light,
on the Delaware Bay.

My Water Color demo from that day of painting.
(Sold to a collector,)

Every day we painted 'til well into the evening. Here, at the swimming hole at the Burcham Farm, on
the Maurice River.

And here is our oldest, and I think most enthusiastic student, Al, a retired doctor, chasing the light
at the end of another long day.

This is a demo I did in oil, at the Burcham's Farm. Next week; more of the same. Gotta' stay in shape, because I can see the Maurice River School Workshops are going to just keep growing, in the
years to come. (Oil on panel. Sold to a collector.)
Did I mention that I'm also teaching an Acrylics Painting Workshop in Provence, France, at the end of August? Now THAT will be an adventure, for sure.
Can hardly wait. Thank you, Ellen.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Art And Pure Nostalgia.

On summer evenings, after dinner, my mother would take my brothers and me for a cooling
dip in the brown cedar waters of nearby Palatine Lake. Palatine was one of a string of  lakes
that included Elmer, Centerton, Franklinville, Parvins, Iona, and Garrison lakes.

Here we are, cooling our tootsies in Palatine lake, where I learned to swim. That's me, on the left,
and my brother Bob, on the right. Brother Frank was then only a gleam in my Dad's  (and maybe Mom's)
eye. About fifteen years after this picture was taken, Bob worked here as a Life Guard, and met
and wooed his future wife, Eleanore, whose family rented one of the many cabins along the back side
of the lake, for the summer.

Here is a painting of part of the lake, including the Life Guard stand, that I did (from memory) as a
gift to Bob and Eleanore, for their wedding. I think I painted this in acrylics, while still in art school.
Sadly, only two of the lakes mentioned above are open to the public anymore, for swimming, or the renting of cabins for the summer, etc. Many of the others are polluted, but do allow canoeing and sport fishing.

One of the lakes that still has tons of summer visitors, and cabin owners, is one I've been driving past every
time I visit my Dad and brothers; Lake Garrison. For years I've promised myself to spend a day there, and do a little "photo essay" of this classic South Jersey Lake. So that is how I spent about 5 hours of
my Fourth of July, just quietly roaming in the shadows (it was SO HOT!, trying not to be intrusive to my
fellow humans, who were obviously having a very "American" experience, as I was, on this Fourth.  

My thanks to Lake Garrison Manager, Joe Reggetto, for indulging my nostalgia, and giving me the run of the property. I was a kid once again, if only for a day.

 And his friendly and informative staff, who filled me in on the history of the lake, which before
1934, was a Cranberry Bog. Bring your chips and burgers; they'll provide the lake, and a good time
is guaranteed for all, at South Jersey's Lake Garrison.