Saturday, June 15, 2013

and then it was over: day #4 of ted nuttall/la crosse workshop

once again (as in seattle) the fourth day of ted's workshop ended with almost all wishing for another day....or two.....or three.

the "lecture" thursday was mainly about composition but also included some suggestions for "must have" books for every artist. i will note some of the one's he recommends shortly. the composition talk was arguably the most important of the four. ted indicated what was meant by composition and why it was so important.

from the onset, one of the most important decisions is determining the size and shape of the painting surface. this will set the tone for the entire rest of the painting. don't just choose a quarter- or half-sheet just because its already in your stack of paper or that there is an easily obtained pre-cut mat for it. one needs to decide what size and shape will best tell the story of the painting.

once that is accomplished, the placement of the major elements, while subordinate to the former, is none-the-less important. here is where it may be a good idea to consider breaking the "rules" (like not centering the major figure in the space, or having the figure looking into the space within the painting rather than near an edge looking out) and then solving this "problem" you have created for yourself so that it works. that is where the challenge lies and also what may speak to a uniqueness that cannot be acquired any other way. small elements can make a big impact. he showed us some paintings with one small detail either changed or omitted, and how much this changed the overall feeling of the piece.

the demo for the day included how ted approaches the details of the hands and reiterated how important the hands were for supporting the emotion and feeling portrayed in the face of the figure. the hands in the demo painting are included here.

"stories of my people" 14"X11"
in the free painting time i finished the first painting by strengthening the value in the background at the top painting and noodling around will a small number of things inconsequential.  i then decided that her head was too much in the center vertically and that i had made a bit of mess of the folds on the bottom of her t-shirt. both were easily(?) fixed, in my mind, by literally ripping off the bottom 2-3 inches. whether this was absolutely necessary, i am not sure, but i feel better about it. one of those things my inner intuitive voice was yammering at me about. here is the finished product.

with about two hours left of the workshop i decided to start another painting. i quickly (and not too expertly but perhaps adequately enough) drew the cowboy at the left of a sheet of 300# hot press paper that was 11"X15".

beginning of another painting
i followed the usual steps by putting down and initial light wash of scarlet lake, cadmium orange, and cerulean blue mixed on the paper. i incorporated the shadow on the under side of his hat into that largish shape. when that was dry i started modeling the nose and then moved onto the eyes. he has startlingly blue eyes and a ridiculously detailed bandana, both of which i wanted to keep featured. i will have to take a liberal dose of my patience pills when i tackle the bandana.

i put down a light-mid value, variegated wash over the hat that i eventually want to be sort of a buff, felt-like surface. some of the darker areas of his face were strengthened value-wise by glazing with the initial colors and adding some raw sienna as i dropped out the cerulean blue. i put some arbitrary color here and there. perhaps the most noticeable over the near eye with a splotch of prussian blue going from the iris up and over the upper lid into the forehead.  i knew that i needed to solve the problem of the large empty space to the right of the head. decided to try putting down a somewhat stark western-scape with a distant horizon line complete with a butte silhouette or two and a graded wash coming forward in the space at it moved down the paper. i am still left with what if anything to do with the "sky". i am thinking some clouds described by some splotches of blue acting as a negative shape to the white cumulus......we'll see. shown is the stage things were at at the end of our too-few four days with ted.


  1. Always so sad when one of Ted's workshop comes to a close. He is such a great teacher and so generous with himself. Sounds like you had a marvelous time - no surprise there! I love the piece that you did in the workshop. I think it would be an interesting post to show that one and the earlier one of the same woman.

    1. thanks for your comments,dena. yes, it was a great time. i had the opportunity to have breakfast with ted just before he left town on friday morning. an all around good guy and marvelous painter. very giving of his time. i like your idea of digging out the paintings that i have done of this person in the past and post them side by each. i'll see if i can find one or two of them.

  2. You have such a great eye for details , and you just nail the expressions , don't you ! Really good portraits !