Landscape Workshop in Milford Connecticut, Sept-Oct 2017


On Monday I wrapped up a three-day landscape painting workshop in Milford, Connecticut.  I had a fantastic time, class was great, we had a wonderful group and (some) beautiful weather.  The location was absolutely ideal for a painting class, ranging from sandy beach with boardwalks, shacks, bridges and a tidal island, to salt marshes and pastoral fields.  Literally any sort of coastal subject matter you could want.

The group of students was mostly from the New Street Guild of Artists, though we had students join in coming from New Jersey and Massachusetts as well.


As in any outdoor course we were at the whim of the weather.  It ranged from low 40s and windy, to high 70s and clear, your total New England fall showcase.  I had sort of planned for that, and it gave me an opportunity to show off the advantages of a Gloucester easel when working outdoors on a windy day.  On the last day all the wind died down so I painted with my tripod and Mosepi painting box that attaches to it.

The first day was really gloomy, so I set up my demo for the day and we tried to focus on how to simplify the landscape.  After doing a couple of thumbnails in a sketchbook, I chose a view that was front lit- full sun, tree against the sky, which in my estimation is one of the harder things to tackle.  I talked at length about how to simplify that into just a few tonal values, and brought a fairly large canvas for a demo, a 25 1/2x 31 1/2″ (65x80cm).  The large scale really forces the issue of simplification, and makes the point clear of painting masses rather than accents.

sorry for the variety of size/quality in the images in this post, as I was teaching the whole time I wasn’t able to take my own photos- the students were kind enough to provide them.



I also spoke at length about the use of medium versus spirits, and the advantages of using turps outdoors rather than just oil.



Of course we talked about the palette I am currently using, and some approaches to color mixing that can expedite things in the field (everyone wants color recipes in painting classes)


palette here is Titanium White, Nickel Titanium, Cad Yellow Lt, Cad Yellow Md, Yellow Ocher, Cad Orange, Cad Red lt, English Red, Alizarin (the imitation one that day), Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Pthalo Emerald, Mars Brown and Cobalt Violet.  -This is about as extensive as my palette ever gets.  


I painted and talked for a few hours, and after lunch went around from easel to easel helping students with their individual work.  Below are some pictures from the first day’s demonstration.



After the first day being so gray, the students asked that I continue to develop the same demo over the other days, and chase the light as it finally came.  I thought it might have been helpful to show them how I would lay in and simplify some other views, but we can save that for another class.  Below are pictures from the second day.




During lunch we met to talk a bit, one day I showed everyone art books of some of my favorite artists and talked about design and structural concepts in the landscape.  I showed everyone my fancy new “Shishkin Easel” (I think that’s what these are called).  On our trip to Russia in 2013 Viktor Butko showed us his grandfather’s crazy russian table/chair/easel contraption.  It’s a really innovative old soviet design, and just a lot of fun.  Ben Fenske was nice enough to get me one on his last trip over there- thanks ben.


To get a sense of how it works, click here for a video of me, ben and marc in viktor’s studio checking out his easel back in 2013 in moscow.  Same design, newly built easel.



Here’s a couple snapshots from the students of my demo as it was on the last day of class. It’s now on the easel in the studio, and if it becomes something it will get added to this post.  I just started working on it.


the below one is a little earlier in the day: