This was the last day of Albert's workshop and the fatigue was beginning to hit a few artists. I too, was even more quiet than my usual gregarious self. It was all starting to sink in, all the info, all his wisdom, all the colors! My eyes began to open more and became sensitized to shape, form, value, and colors all around me. Everything I looked at, I looked at with an observant eye. Saddened that my sensitivity will dull a bit, unless I continue to paint every day. It seems like a daunting task at times with a family to raise.
Albert's demonstration was on painting trees. It was a two part demonstration. The first was focusing on the drawing aspect of the art of trees, and the second half was on the local color of trees.
The shape of the tree was important and how it's drawn. He talked about the calligraphic lines and how they are lighter where the source of light is coming from and darker on the shaded area, defining the volume of the trees by marking the curve with lines. Then by using his arm to show how a tree twists, he showed us the foreshortening of the tree (arm) and using his hand as the roots as they grip into the ground.
We were to imagine how the bark on a tree would twist too. We are to indicate the twist of a tree by the direction of the bark. Trees are characters, they are like people with twisted bodies and branches reaching for the sun above. Albert also discussed the cast shadows on the branches that are behind another branch, always keeping in mind what direction the sun is coming from. He stressed that drawing each day makes for better paintings.
here is his drawing on the twisted tree. Albert shared with us that when he came upon this tree, he thought it was hilarious.
After the sketch portion, he began on the local color portion of the demo. He shared many thoughts about how local color is more important than shadows and lights. You know it's a gray trunk, but it has mauves, grays and greens in it too. He first established the shadows...remember, darks first then lights thereafter? Yessiree! Albert prefers NuPastels for his grays and used a variety of pinks for the lights. He also shared that the grays marry as the color slips around the tree.
Foliage is a different texture than bark. It has volume and different shapes and angles. He paints the under part, or base of the foliage first, with darks as well as the back side of the foliage. Trying not to indicate each and every leaf but softly indicate the dense masses first, staying with two greens and modifying them later. Then adding the lighter areas to the branches and leaves, he modified the colors with purples. Remember, too, that the cast shadow of the tree will be rougher on the surface it falls onto.
So, after the demonstration we were to go out and paint at a new location from the workshop. Loaded with all this fresh information, I set out to paint a tree. And a large, beautiful old oak it was! Here is my underpainting with a touch of blocking in on top...
I was really happy with my start, thinking all the while of todays lesson.
It was fresh and my thoughts were running strong. I felt strong. Soon afterwards, Albert came around to conclude with a farewell at my easel and told me my painting looks great. "You're getting it!" He warmly shook my hand and told me to keep on working and great things will happen. Thanking him for the great instruction I asked if he'd return back to Portland again. There's always the possibility. Maybe his mentoring program will be next on my wish list.
Here is my finished piece. I still have to resolve the foreground a bit.
Tidbits from the day:
There is no money in drawing, only value.
Always be knowing where the direction of the sun is coming from.
Trees are very proud of their color.
Foliage is a different texture than the bark.
It takes two people to paint a picture; the artist and the viewer.