Well, I'll be up before the crack of dawn tomorrow, and all of this week: it's Orientation for our new students at Duke's Nicholas School. It's been very busy these last few weeks. I'll be at Duke from very early mornings until night, so it will be a while until I can do much blogging. I'll be back as soon as I can, though, so I hope you'll bear with me! I can't believe that by the day after Labor Day, I'll be off and on the road, but I'll be busy here in the meantime...
Enjoy these late summer days for me! I'm anxious to start painting again!
"People may not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get." (-Frederick Douglass)
Well, it's about time I tell you just a little bit about my wonderful watercolor class experience last week in mid-coast Maine! I've been so busy back at work that I'm just now able to jot down a few notes--forgive me!
In a nutshell, David Dewey's watercolor class was excellent.
Not only is he a very gifted artist, but he's an extremely generous teacher as well: he pours his heart and soul into his classes, and you feel the passion he has--both for his painting and for the Maine landscape that he calls his second home. It's no wonder to me that his students gather again and again, year after year at his side, to listen to whatever enigmatic words might spill from his mouth:
"The palette feeds the painting." "Don't draw or paint the entire tree: suggest." "Use ranges of color." "Line doesn't define color; color defines line." "There's a harmonic juice to painting." "Put color down in anticipation of what's coming next--have a color plan or a color map." "Start with the color of light, and find the landscape in it."
David would continually emote on all sorts of painting ideas, and I'd frantically take notes so that I could let it all sink in later, as I read and re-read my notes.
He holds his classes near his home in mid-coast Maine, which is an artist's paradise, rife with landscapes and skies that go on forever. Since these classes fill a student's day, there's no time for wandering off or sight-seeing in the area, but David literally takes you on a journey to different locales each day, giving you insights into the winding coastal landscapes that creep up around every bend in the road, allowing you to continually see the beauty of the area.One day we're visiting a lighthouse, one day a beach, one day a park...(David's thumbnail paintings below:)
A day with David begins with his selecting a subject matter, and getting right down to business, doing a painting demonstration for the class. While he paints, he verbally walks you through what he's doing, and why he's doing it; providing commentary on color theory, mixing colors on the palette, learning to simplify your subject, keeping colors from going flat by varying what you pick up from the palette. Occasionally, as you watch David in action, you learn a new "technique," such as flicking the paintbrush on your leg to ascertain a tone that's just right, or smearing your index finger into the palette paint, to get just the right mix of pigment!
After David's demo, students are encouraged to head off anywhere, to find their own subject that inspires, and begin painting, while his words and painting are fresh in their minds.
It impresses me that he recognizes each individual's style, and he lets artists develop in their own way; he's not interested in cloning himself. He leaves artists to paint for several hours, but then checks back with each individual to see what they're doing, offering encouragement or suggestions about what they're working on.
In the afternoon, David gathers folks around him once again, all armed with sunblock, hats perched atop heads, and listening attentively, as he paints, emphasizing the importance of doing thumbnails. His quick, fresh thumbnail paintings are deliberate, abstract and full of life. At the day's end, everyone gathers at a designated meeting area, and David critiques the day's works and offers feedback to artists.
The class days are busy, but David and his wife also offer up their home to students, generously serving up desserts one evening, and the chance to browse through David's journals that are just filled with stunningly beautiful images of his travels.
One night, all of us headed to a local outdoor eatery, "Miller's," where we had seafood and a beautiful sunset to welcome us. Several of us noted the analogous colors of our table fare (see below):
And of course, taking in all the beauty of Maine is a big part of the class experience, as we savored fresh Maine lobster and blueberries in a gorgeous landscape.
On the final day of classes, the group met again at David and his wife Kathy's house, for an "en plein aire" luncheon, leaving everyone to reminisce over the instructive week.
I spent most of my week feeling pretty much "unworthy" of being in the presence of such talent in this group of people, but I learned so much, and came away with much more than I brought to the class. I am going to practice so much of what I learned, and in the coming months, I'll push myself to explore a lot of what David taught in the class. I'll tell you more about the class as I go along...
"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul." (-Van Gogh)