Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Day

the flowers I decided to paint
Today I took a day off work.  Well, I did yesterday too.  Soon I will hit the road for some work travel and also, I need to use some leave days before the end of March.  So I scheduled to take yesterday and today off.   Today has long been planned to do a one day painting workshop.  The painting workshop was held at Viva The Flower Store, in Angaston (my home town !) http://www.vivaflowerstore.com/.  Viva has stunning flowers for sale and also other lovely things.  And occasionally hosts workshops.  Flower arranging, or sometimes painting.

This painting workshop was taught by my friend and art tutor Jacqueline Coates (for more info on Jacqueline and her work, check out http://www.jacquelinecoates.com/index.html ).  It was a one day oil painting workshop and the subject was painting floral arrangements from life.  We would each be completing a floral painting during this one day workshop.  Viva had an impressive assortment of flowers available for the workshop attendees to choose from too !  There were four big tables set up, each with 6 -10 vases of different sorts of flowers.  Vases full of stunning flowers--roses, delphiniums, hyacinths, lisianthus, orchids, hydrangeas, and more.  Easels were set up around the shop and we chose easels near the flowers we wanted to paint.  I quickly settled on painting hydrangeas, which are stunning and I love their form and moody colours too.  There were two vases near by, one with light green flowers, some tinged with mauve edges or petals. And just under it (shorter vase), a vase of older and richer coloured flowers with antique blues, greens and burgundy hues.

My initial composition and work before lunch
I focused in on the hydrangeas and decided my composition.  Jacqueline is an amazing teacher who is able to make difficult to master concepts very approachable.... and even though I have done many of her courses, I always learn something.  So this one day workshop was a great way to refresh my skills.  Even having done workshops or private art tuition wither, I listened, because I thought I might learn something I had not heard so well before, or master a new skill I needed to take on.

The technique today was to decide a composition based on the floral still life arrangement we each had selected.  And then to work to create a structure of it painting the negative space around the flowers, before starting with the flowers themselves.  After a demonstration, we all worked to do this before lunch.  Viva provided us lovely lunches from local cafe Blonde Coffee and we took them to picnic across the street in the park along the main street of Angaston (Murray Street).  Then we returned to start work on our flowers.

After lunch we had a demonstration using palette knife with oils to develop our paintings.  I have done this before, but again, there is always something new to learn and apply to improve one's skills.  I fact, I have done a painting like this, (also hydrangeas, painted from life) with Jac's instruction, before.  And although it was a credible effort, it execution was not all I would have liked.  Probably part of the reason to choose to do hydrangeas again.  Well, also, I do really them !!!  (and this time there were a different colour)

My completed painting,
next to the still life subject
So I hoped to have a nicer composition this time and also an execution I liked better (was happier with).  I must say today both were the case.  The painting worked out better on the composition count, and also it was painting with improved technique.  The technique used for today's workshop is quite loose, using the texture of the oils to help tell the story of the painting.  And very much alla prima (painted from life in a single session, not touched up later in studio).  It allows a freshness to the painting.  Because one does not embellish or touch it up, the composition is good to get right at the beginning, because one will not be doing it again or changing it.

My painting developed nicely.  Very happy with the flowers.  I had a couple goes on the vase.  Jac helped a bit on that.  She is amazingly talented at making a few strong marks and strokes of paint tell a story (that is something I need to practice more and learn better).  Before today I thought this pairing with thick impasto oil paint might be a technique beyond my abilities to learn.  Today I feel a bit differently.  I feel with more practice and confidence I can do more and better.  I am very happy with this painting.  While I see a few things I can improve on... but I don't feel it is so elusive a technique as before.  And I will be happy to have this on display.   I makes a big difference to have a success !  I am happy with the colours and also the sense of depth.  The marks felt quite impressionistic up close, while making them.  But from a bit of distance, they really came together.  This is important for me...because all I was doing was concentrating on what I saw and recording it as I could, in an expressive way with the paint.  I have found with painting, there is no substitute for doing...and no way to truly understand how to do something that to get it right (and realise what it was you did to achieve that, so you can do more of it next time !!)

Close up of my painting
The painting has thick oil paint marks on it, impasto style, but purely oil paint.  So, it will take awhile to cure and and dry.  When it has, Ian will put a cable on the back, so it can be hung and displayed.   By the time I return from my trip, it should be on display and will welcome me home too !


  1. Hi Kim,

    I am so very pleased to have found your blog :)

    we are just about to undertake a project similar to yours, having just purchased a 100yr old home in Bethany. We are lived in the Barossa before, and are very eager to return as soon as my husband's work allows.

    I have also have a vacola preserver- my unit was also an op shop score and is bright orange! I quilt in my spare time :)

    Looking forward to reading more


    1. Hi Marieka, thanks so much for your lovely comments to my blog posts. Would love to learn more about your reno and other activities. It all sounds very exciting ! You can also find me in email at kvalois7@me.com