Class Notes: Finding METHOD in the Madness

My painting classes resumed this week and tho' we plan to paint outside for the remainder of the season, this first week painters got back into things with a paint-a-long demo that focused on basic METHOD in the landscape.
We talk a lot about METHOD in class. Just having one goes a long toward bringing order to chaos. There are so many variables in the landscape, many that have nothing to do with painting, so it helps to have a method, a way of doing things that does not vary but keeps you on course.
I teach certain methods in class, sometimes as simple as how to lay out your palette, knowing that another teacher could have a totally different take on the process. No worries; and no wrong answers. Just have a METHOD and use it.

This demo was a refresher on painting using the INDIRECT METHOD.
The INDIRECT method refers to the practice of starting a painting by laying in major masses with their relative color -in a wash of paint and thinner. This allows you to cover the canvas very quickly and analyze the shapes before getting too far.
Once the canvas is covered, it is much easier to follow up with heavier, more opaque paint to bring a piece to finish.
A good under painting (- good, not tight) can do a lot of the heavy lifting in a piece, while the opaque paint does the job of defining the subject instead of working to cover the canvas.
The INDIRECT method has been around for centuries. Tonal painters often lay in an under painting with one color (Burnt Umber is popular) and bring color on top. Most contemporary painters however, will use the local color to lay in major masses, adding light effects with heavier, more opaque paint, on the second pass.

Annual Exhibition from the 2010 Zapata Artist Invitational Gathering

This show was a result of the Artist Invitational Gathering that preceded it in late July - and a one day wonder hosted by Janet and Duke Phillips who run the Medano-Zapata Nature Conservancy Ranch in the San Luis Valley. The Zapata Ranch is a living demonstration of how cattle and bison operations can co-exist with conservation efforts.
Briefly, the "Artist Gathering" brings artists together with the Nature Conservancy and revolves around the land and people that work it. At the core, is the intent of communicating, not only the natural beauty of the area, but also the urgency of protecting vanishing spaces. The Artist Gathering in July brought 29 artists from all over the West to the Medano-Zapata Nature Conservancy Ranch. Click on the link to learn more about the Conservancy.
Very much in keeping with the "ranch" theme the show was held a the Chico Basin Ranch east of Colorado Springs. The art was displayed on stacks of hay bales - very unique and show-goers enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in the Ranch's cottonwood grove. In the photo 2nd from the top, my work hangs next to that of Bill Alther and Laura Mehmert. Below that is shot of myself with David Montgomery and his wife, Cindy Cutts, and Laura Mehmert.

A "City" Show is planned for December 4th at the Design Center in Denver that will feature larger work, inspired by our time at the Medano Zapata Ranch. I will keep you posted.