Friday, January 16, 2009

Painting Workshop with Betty Carr

I haven't posted in a week because I've been in Palm Springs taking a painting workshop with artist Betty Carr. Please don't judge the workshop based on the photo I've posted above—Betty teaches some very sophisticated techniques in landscape and still-life painting (see her Web site for examples), but I kind of went off in my own direction and did my own thing, which is pretty typical of me.
Anyway, I had a terrific time and learned a lot from Betty and hope to see her again soon. She teaches all over the US and next year will be back to teach another five-day workshop at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Since her classes at the museum are restricted to 12 students, you're sure to get lots of individual attention.
Betty talked a lot about values in paintings. She also encouraged us to focus on one area of the painting and to highlight it with sharper edges, brighter colors and more detail. Other items in the painting will be a bit blurred, with softened edges that blend into the background a bit.
This is the way the eye naturally sees: We focus on one item, and other things—even close by—are somewhat blurred. So one must take great care when painting from photos not to paint every item as photographed, in sharp detail. She said it can be a difficult concept to grasp, which is why so many paintings done from photos look unnatural. As a solution to this problem, Betty suggested painting as often as possible out in nature.
As you can see, I may have taken lots of great notes during Betty's lectures but actually applied none of her concepts to my own experimental fun with paint. What can I say—I love bright colors and patterns! I enjoy painting on fabric (silk and muslin) for this reason; no need to worry about a focal point or values or composition, just have fun with color and design. So who knows where this will lead me, but I have enjoyed spending the week in Palm Springs, staying with my good friend Dale Wigley (thank you, Dale!), and the workshop was great.
If you live in the Palm Springs area or anywhere in Southern California, I encourage you to look into the workshops offered at the museum. Check out their Web site, and sign up for a class!

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