...catch the 10:15 at Redeemer and come home to see what can be done to wrap up the current painting. What is it about? The quickest paintings know this from the start. Others start with a sky that I want to see translated to canvas--some swirl, veiling, color, or wonderful shape to celebrate. Then some bit of ground is wanted to anchor it and here's where it gets tricky. For the minute we drop to earth, there's a commitment to make: how do the earth and heavens reconcile? When they mirror, that's a kind of grace. I have folders of photos to sift through, watching for the right combination of shape and place. This painting pairs a sky taken from the elevated road across Mobile bay with an afternoon on the Magnolia river. It's the little point that leads to the river as I remember it, like a fluid street. The oaks near the river are less tortured, being more sheltered from the winds off Weeks bay. But this one on the point is half tame, caught in the winter sun, the same time of year as now. I'm considering painting out the distant bank, doing a bit of a Hopper on it. Maybe imagine that we are approaching from the other direction, and it's Mobile bay, that Weeks bay empties into. Or I could break up that mass of trees that remind me of shrubbery. Pick out the shapes of a few pines, detail the marsh grasses that rim the waters edge. Once the water is resolved, the clumps of grasses that taper the point can be painted. I'm thinking of tucking a fisherman, or perhaps a child in a boat, partly behind the grass. Until I can get to that point, the balance of the whole thing tips too much to the right. It's hard to be patient and hold back that detail till the rest is ready and dry. And then, I may find I've miscalculated and it's still off. I've had a similar bet with the sky. I thought at first I could do a very golden sky. But the storminess of the clouds demands a bluish gray, or else I'll be left with an ugly yellow yuck color. I'm remembering an Isobel Bishop painting of a woman, glazed golden over a beautifully brushed underpainting, somewhere between Rubens and Turner in its transparent glazes. But that's for another sky, not this one.
Our next adventures in painting Gulf Coast skies will start with a sunrise--a different one from the first Ashland workshop, of course, because tomorrow is another day...and the second session will delve into cloudy drama just before a summer afternoon storm.
Scheduled for June 21-22 and June 24-25 at Ashland Gallery, with a Sunday between for rest, cost will be $275 for a single session, or $500 for both. Reference photographs, panels for painting, that elusive alkyd white paint, coffee, water & soft drinks are included. No need to bring an easel or umbrella, either--the folks at Ashland Gallery provide a comfortable, supportive environment. Here's a link to the supply list: http://www.susandowningwhiteclasses.com/supplies-landscape-painting.html
The day will begin with a warm-up exercise: applying an imprimatura to your panel, followed by my demonstration of creating an underpainting. We'll discuss preparing your surface to receive paint, paint consistency and brush handling. If you're an experienced artist, you may pick up a few tips about the underpainting/glazing technique. But if you've been curious about painting, or used to paint, or worked only in watercolor, or took classes in college...this is a workshop for you. Let's think of this as Art Appreciation 2.2, a place where you can experiment, and possibly--hopefully--mess up. I'll hold your hand--literally--to see you make your brushstrokes properly. This is painting taught the way I wish I had been taught...http://www.susandowningwhiteclasses.com/susans-blog.html
Ashland Gallery, 2321 Old Shell Rd Mobile, AL 36607 (251) 479-3548 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ashland-Gallery/251049375813?fref=ts
Please feel free to share whatever you may find useful on my website. There are no great secrets in painting, and we're all under the same great creative sky, though the hours and weather may vary widely. Happy Painting!
Sunrise Over Mobile Bay, a two-day workshop
April 12-13, 2013 (9 am - 4 pm) at Ashland Gallery in Mobile. Learn a traditional, dark-to-light oil painting technique and create a glowing gulf coast sunrise!
We will explore the classical underpainting/glazing method, with quick drying alkyd materials.
If you've painted with watercolors but always wanted to try oils, this will be a good introduction. The glazing technique will feel familiar to you since we use transparent oil colors.
Painting experience is helpful but not required. We'll cover basics of paint mixing, brushwork, the care and feeding of brushes, and step-by-step instructions starting with a demonstration. Photos and painting panels are provided in the $275 fee. Supply list may be found here: /
About the artist
Susan Downing-White’s work has been featured in American Artist magazine and exhibited at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Mobile Museum of Art.