Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bucket List-The Final Piece!

Reid's beginning to model the face

And so, here I am at the last two days of the workshop.  I have observed a great deal by watching every morning.  I learn best visually.  So every morning I watched and made notes on what I observed or what he said.  Someone would ask him a question and he would say, "I don't know.  That really doesn't help you much, does it?"  But when I thought about it, sometimes I don't know how to answer a student's question.  Maybe I don't know.  It's not a crime.  Yet, I know he knew what he was doing and why.  Mr. Reid seemed totally at ease with those types of answers.  Many times he had fine answers.  In fact  at one point he said he thought we ought to be less concerned with "all that", which I took to mean the mechanics, and just paint.   Several times he would tell us not to do something and then do that very thing!  I find this to be one of the biggest problems with teaching/teachers.  We get so used to "doing" a thing and it becomes so rote we forget how to break it down for the beginner.  But I did find him to be one of the better teachers I've had overall.
Fri. Reid demo-Joseph Wolveskill

What he did do that I found very valuable was talk through his process as he worked each morning.  As he drew he talked about what he saw and what he was drawing and why.  When he painted, what colors he was using and why, water to paint ratio,or brush work.  I was a sponge.  I tried to repeat something new each day with good and bad results.  Each afternoon he would go around to every student.  Every day I got a new lesson and something to work on.  The first day I told him I was trying to "loosen up" and he told me " I don't know what to tell you.  I know that doesn't help you, but keep trying." I was a little freaked out by that.  I thought, OK, well, what do I do now?  So I just kept trying.  And then he would come back around and tell me to lose an edge or finish what I started.  When I repeated what he told me I had success.  But old habits die hard and I kept falling back to my old way of doing things.  Two steps forward and one back. 

I came away with a renewed understanding of the importance of the gesture:  The portrait, but especially the figure is stiff without its proper gesture.  Correct proportions.  The value of measurement.  Line and edges:  Changes in the direction of the line and lost and found edges.  These are key in leading the eye and creating importance.  Color:  the temperature of color and where we place that and why.  Warm colors come forward and cool recede.  The extremities are warmer in color.  It just reads right- even if exaggerated. 

The models each day were of different ethnicity, which was very helpful.  We had an African American male and female,  an Asian female, a native American and a blond haired blue eyed Caucasian woman.   It's so important to be versatile and know what color mixes to use for certain skin tones.  It is always a good idea to learn to draw many different body types, skin colors or differing facial features.
Finished Reid painting- Joseph Woveskill

In the end, I failed in my attempts on Thursday and was not hopeful on Friday.  Thursday's demo had been of Joseph Wolveskill,  a native American of Sioux decent.  He was a colorful individual with a love of the history of his heritage and history in general.  Thursday he was decked out in traditional native American garb and the painting Reid did was fabulous!  I did not have him as a model until Friday.  Friday Joseph wore an authentic cowboy "outfit".  I watched the Reid demo in the AM and tried my best to draw and paint Joseph in the PM.  About an hour and a half into the process I was so frustrated I could have screamed. (I may have...)  I always have an awkward phase in a portrait painting which I work through most of the time.  This time I was just so frustrated.  I received some timely encouragement and instruction from Reid at this point and I turned a corner on the painting.  The finished piece I am very happy with.  I have an accurate drawing, I have good composition, I have lost edges, I have good values and strong color--and it's very loose!! 
unfinished painting of Joseph Wolveskill
Friday PM. 

I have not had the time to practice my success.  With the approach of the holidays and other commitments I have had precious little time or energy to paint.  This is my recurring problem!  I leave you with a painting I did for a demo that a student told me was "Reidesque".  So hopefully what I learned lies dormant and will revive itself in the coming months! 

Happy holidays- posts may be sparse until the new year!  Thanks for taking this little journey with me.  Your comments have been great!
Happy painting!   Michelle

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post. I love Reid's work, although I rarely work in watercolor any longer. I was interested to see his painting and compare it with yours. The thing that really stuck out in my eye is that in Reid's painting, he seems to be sitting below the model and looking up at him, and that adds a sense of importance and monumentality to his character. Your vantage point seems to be straight on. I love both paintings, and you did a great job! I'd love to see what else you did, and so sorry we can't see the other comments.