Monday, June 27, 2011

Painting Workshop in Bishop

Once again, I signed up for a workshop with friend and professional artist Howard Rees ( to do some outdoor painting.  After a winter of stagnation and too much work at the office, it was time to force the issue and sign up for a workshop and get painting.  It's a good thing I also paid a deposit for the workshop because if I hadn't I probably would have cancelled at the last minute.  As always seems to happen, work demands reached a crescendo just before the workshop and I felt that it was nearly impossible to get away.  However I've lost deposits on workshops before and this time I decided to hell with it...I'd go and things would work out or not.  As it turned out they did work out, but I still spent the end of each painting day logging into the office to catch up.  Not sure if internet and cell phone access is a blessing or a curse!

So it was off to Bishop to paint the high desert and Eastern Sierras and see many artist friends once again.  My friend Ruth Andre ( joined the group and others who I've pictured in earlier posts on this blog were also there.  Rusty and his wife Elena, Renee and Noni down from Port Orchard, Washington, Vicki, Bob, and others I will think of as soon as I close this post were there.  The weather was perfect for most of the trip.  In fact, these were the first real, hot summer days I'd experienced this year.  As a life long California Valley summertime kid, I never thought I'd be saying those words in the middle of June!

At the end of each day, we'd gather around and Howard would 'critique' each person's work.  Here's the group getting instruction and criticism from Howard at the end of a painting day.  This happened to be day 3, I think.  In this picture, Howard stands back to critique his critique.  He loves to paint on everyone else's painting.  I think that's cheating.  I could do better too if someone else did most of the work first.  But I don't tell him I said that.  I paid for this abuse and I insist on getting it all.

In reality I have mixed feelings about having my work painted over, but I have to admit that after so many years of experience, with a few quick brushstrokes, Howard can do magic on a painting.  It's always a treat to watch him bring a painting to life in minutes.  It's even more of a treat if it isn't my painting!

During the critique, Rusty (in red) looks skeptical while Ruth, somewhere under the hat at the left, is not paying attention as usual. Renee (between Ruth and Rusty) appears to have dozed off in the middle of all the excitement.

Pond at Bishop Ca  9"x12" oil on canvas panel

Day one was a lot about getting the rust out.  I started with a very poor imitation of you-know-who.  I won't say his name since he might not appreciate being associated with this.  Some "Howard" advice that improved this painting: de-emphasize the group of lily pads in the distance so that the group in the foreground became the focal point.  I had both groups in sunlight, and both painted in light values.  Darkening the distant group worked, in my opinion.

12" x 16" oil on canvas panel. 

In the afternoon, I looked for some architecture to paint.  I find it very difficult to paint "pure" landscapes. Architecture of some sort helps provide color, contrast and sometimes a center of interest.  I painted the only two sheds nearby the ponds.  Howard really rescued this painting for me when he suggested adding the trees in front of the building on the right.  It covered a very plain area and added some reasons for shadow areas in the foreground.  I spent many years in architectural drafting and rendering and you'd think I'd remember the most basic architect's trick....put trees and other 'growies' in front of ugly designs.  They do wonders.  It worked here too.  I had also painted the shed to the left head on...exactly as it appeared to me, but Howard pointed out that while it was "real", it looked odd.  With just a couple of brushstrokes he added a suggestion of a side wall on the extreme left of the shed, giving it a sudden third dimension. 

After these two paintings I was done for the day and ready for a beer...or two.  I was already looking forward to the next couple of days!


  1. Bruce, Love the post on Bishop but why in the world would you say I was not paying attention as usual? So funny. It was a fun time and your paintings look great!

  2. Hi Ruth....I just couldn't resist...probably because you are the only one who DOES pay attention. Plus Howard dotes on you...that's enough reason!! It was fun, wasn't it??

  3. Thank you Art Collector! Painting outside is always a challenge...and like Forrest says, you never know what your gonna get!