Monday, August 27, 2012

Workshop with Fongwei Liu - Day two and three

On the second day of the Fongwei Liu workshop, we adjourned to Miller park to paint.  I have to admit that this was a major disappointment for me.  I'm familiar with Miller Park and find nothing of interest to paint there.  I understand that a good artist should be able to find - or create - subject matter anywhere, but I'm afraid I'm not one of them yet.  I need to feel inspired and excited by my subject matter, and Miller Park leaves me cold.  I think even Fongwei had a difficult time finding something to paint, as he wandered up and down the narrow parkway for sometime before climbing down a steep bank to find a spot by the water.  He did manage to find a simple scene with some early morning light coming through the foliage and, as one might expect from a painter of his caliber, managed a decent plein air painting.  I struggled, tried in vain to make a clump of trees interesting and finally gave up.   I wiped the canvas down...those panels are too expensive to waste on a yet another bad plein air effort.

In the afternoon, we returned to the studio for a lecture on the essentials of a good painting.  Fongwei used examples of his own work and also that of many other impressive artists.  I wish I could have gotten the names of some of them...I would have like to see more examples.  I enjoyed the presentation...and once again, I found his comments and advice helpful and memorable.  But I have to say, the day was largely a loss for me and I left a little early feeling pretty discouraged.  Most of that had to do with my own short comings and the crisis of confidence I have found myself in lately and not in the workshop proper.

On Sunday we went to Capitol Park in the morning.  I felt much better about this location as there are almost endless things to inspire an artist there.  I resolved to keep it simple in light of the very depressing experience of the day before.   I set up and painted by the fountain in the Rose Garden.  It was a beautiful day.  I discussed my idea for my painting with Fongwei and he approved my location and idea before I started.  He also suggested some changes to my approach before I had picked up a brush.  One of the things he stresses in his workshop is to have an idea, a plan, a concept of what you want to accomplish and how you will go about it.  This can be simple and broadly conceptualized, but it is critical.  It was morning and the light on the fountain and the roses was beautiful  Determined not to get into licking and messing and guessing again, I pulled out the 1 1/2" brush and laid in the background ad the major components of the fountain in simple strokes.  I was determined not to overwork and I forced myself to leave the strokes as they 'fell'.   I was very pleased with this simple painting and the feeling of the light that I caught. One interesting thing occurs to me as I look at this painting now.  As I discussed my concept with Fongwei before beginning, he pointed out that the two rose bushes framing the fountain could be somewhat static if not handled right.  He cautioned me not to make both bushes the same height even though they actually were...and he suggested exaggerating one.  I see now that I completely forgot that advice!  Oh well.  Next time.
Roses in Capitol Park  12" x 9"  Oil on canvas panel

Finally, back in the studio, I painted this colorful landscape from a photo reference I had on hand.  If I remember right it came from a Wetcanvas challenge in the Western Art forum.  Most of the references I have are my own photos, but I do have a few from Wetcanvas.  It's a good source for material and everything posted by members is done so with the condition that it be available to others to use.  No copyright problems.  I think I will work on this one a bit more. 

Aspens in the Fall   12 x 9 oil on canvas panel. 
With that, it was time to go home.  I said good bye to Fongwei Liu.  It was an honor to be able to listen and learn from this fine painter.  I will remember his gentle and scholarly approach.  I think my work will be a little better from the experience. 

1 comment :

  1. Bruce, Your blog commentary was written so well. You gave a real feeling of your workshop experience. I like your paintings, especially the fountain piece. Very nice brush work. Thanks for sharing your time with Fongwei Liu.