This weekend I attended a painting workshop at Great Falls School of Art, a few miles from my home. I had found out about this through a rather indirect way. The original class I signed up for was on how to do concept art for games, ads, and movies. Unfortunately, only two people (one of them me) signed up for the class and the school of art had to cancel it and return my money. As a consolation for the disappointment, the School of Art allowed me to attend this workshop, directed by the same person who would have done the concept art course. The instructor was Armand Cabrera, who is an expert in on-site outdoor painting, though our course would use reference photographs rather than sit outdoors freezing. Cabrera has worked for many years as a commercial artist as well, doing work for film studios and game companies.
Cabrera gave us demonstrations of painting directly onto the canvas without any preliminary sketches or roughs. This was unusual for me as I never use the "direct painting" technique and my outdoor on-site work is all in colored pencil and occasionally watercolor. So I had a challenge to do, using the painting techniques imparted to us by Armand. I used acrylic, which is water-based, but most of the others used more traditional oil paint. We had three days to paint, Friday Saturday and Sunday. Then we attempted to paint our own pieces using this technique. There were about 15 of us aspirants, 13 of us women.
My first effort, a study of farm buildings, didn't go very well on Friday, so I decided to paint a piece which I had shot photos for and even composed a rough back in 2008, but had never gotten around to creating. It is on a 12" x 24" canvas, a long vertical rectangle. The scene depicts an old farmhouse in rural Virginia (Culpeper County) surrounded by trees, as a storm rolls in from the mountains.
You can see an image of this painting here. It's not quite done, I need to touch up some details on the house and the road. It's not the high-precision architectural sketches in colored pencil I'm used to, but it does have architecture. The colors are brighter than what you see here, my photo is with a flash which bleaches out the colors. I learned a lot this weekend and I also got to talk with Cabrera about illustration, digital art, the game and movie business, and gallery art. I also showed him my portfolio, and his suggestions were very helpful.
Even though this type of art is very popular, I don't think I'll be taking my acrylics out into the field any time soon. I like my own "lesser" media better, and it's certainly easier to bring along the colored pencils, sketchbook and pen, and sit on the tailgate of my car with a glass of picturesque wine.
"Storm Approaching Culpeper County" is 12" x 24", acrylic on canvas, February 5-6, 2012.