Autumn Painting Workshop

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun..."

--Keats, "To Autumn" (excerpt)

"Afternoon sunlight" oil on board, 8x10" October 2016 (painted on day 2 of my workshop)

This weekend, I got to experience my third plein air painting workshop with Adriano Farinella.  The weather was gorgeous, golden, warm, and rich with autumn colors.  Above is a painting I did in this recent workshop.  It's interesting to compare it to the one below of the exact same view, which I did in my very first workshop, one year ago. 

"Sunlit Slope" oil on board, 9x12" October 2015

The first day of our workshop, we set up our easels by the Delaware River in Scott Park.  I had really spent the past year putting the techniques I had learned into plein-air-action (see my blog post Summer Landscapes) and so I was feeling ready to learn something new, and possibly take the next step, whatever that might be.  Adriano suggested I focus on these goals:

  1. Pay attention to the Edges in my paintings 
  2. Make Real Decisions (rather than suggestive, floaty "washes" with lots of medium)
  3. Paint Thickly, without medium, making real commitment
  4. Do what's best for the PAINTING
  5. Expand my Green Vocabulary

"Train Trestle over the Delaware" oil on linen panel, 8x10" (painted on day 1 of my workshop)

"Expanding my Green Vocabulary" means going beyond the four greens I had been using religiously for the past year.  For example, by adding some reds to them, I made them more mature.  This was a little intimidating, because I felt really comfortable with those four greens.  (A great Picasso quotation about Green can be found in my blog post, That Particular Green.)

My four comfy old greens: 

  1. ultramarine+winsor yellow
  2. ultramarine +ochre
  3. cerulean+winsor
  4. cerulean +ochre  (favorite!)

"Afternoon Greens" oil on linen panel, 8x10" (painted on day 1 of my workshop)

And now....... (drum roll),,,,  Some new exciting greens:

  1. Ultramarine + winsor +alizarin....but don't stick with it, play around
  2. Cerulean+winsor+white = Bright Green....gray it out with some red
  3. Cobalt+winsor = grass green
  4. Cerulean + lemon + white = vivid accent color
  5. Cerulean + ochre + orange or other neutral = so nice
  6. Or take cerulean+ochre and add any old neutral (something lying around on my palette, whatever...)

But the take-away message I got was not to adhere to this list like dogma, but to be a little more fluid and intuitive in my green-mixing, letting myself experiment and have fun.

So I had a little green-party, and I forgot I was really painting anything at all, I just got really into making greens!

Some additional notes I took:

  1. Orange and yellow aren't on top of the green, they are in it.
  2. Over-paint the darks in the beginning, then slowly add the middle and light values.
  3. Think about texture: avoid "brushstroke texture."  Use the brush in a way that's not the usual way I use it.

"Morning at Clear Spring Farm" oil on board, 8x10" (painted on day 2 of my workshop)

On the second day of the workshop, I wasn't able to get a babysitter until later in the day, so I brought my kids along to Clear Spring Farm in the morning.  Although they did do a certain amount of whining, and quarreling, they were mostly happy to be with the class.  While we all painted, they ran around in the pumpkin patch, read books, and did their own paintings.

My kids painting too!

I'm glad I took the workshop because I learned a lot, and I enjoyed the experience.  However, at times I felt overwhelmed.  Sometimes the beauty of the scene around me made me feel sad, and I had to stop painting and lie down in the soft grass.  I could feel the landscape slowly filling me up, the sunlight sinking into my soul, and it made my heart break, because it would soon pass, as autumn always passes, and it would all be gone forever.

"...quiet coves

His Soul has in its Autumn, when his wings

He furleth close; contented so to look

On mists in idleness--to let fair things

Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,

Or else he would forego his mortal nature."

---Keats, excerpt from "The Human Seasons"


Thanks for reading my blog!

For more reading:

Taking Notes: my first plein air workshop

 Everything is Relative: my second plein air workshop