Patrick Saunders’ Workshop

Last week (Friday and Saturday) I was happily participating in a Plein Air Workshop sponsored by Brazier Gallery in Richmond by Patrick Saunders. Saunders won the top prize at last year’s Plein Air Richmond Event and is again a participant in this year’s event. Plein Air Richmond is a large fun raising event for the Richmond SPCA and there are about 30 nationally known Plein Air artists participating. Among them, besides Patrick Saunders, is Kim Hall with whom I had the privilege of painting  at the Allure Art Center’s Plein Air Event last month.

I’m not going to give away Saunders’ teaching details, but I learned a lot including how to look for color temperature, values, how to measure and some new to me techniques on getting started as well as an introduction to some wonderful paint (Michael Harding) and some new paint colors (Cadmium Green and Colbalt Blue). I’m also going to seek out linen panels sealed with oil gesso as the paint just goes on and stays on so well.

Each morning Patrick did a demonstration painting and did a terrific job of explaining his decision making (how and why he picked his subject matter, how he choses his colors and mixing techniques). He also showed how he gets things laid out and at which stage he goes from very thin (lean) to fatter and fatter paint. He uses no medium other than odorless mineral spirits (OMS) and most, if not all of his brushes are short flats. It was really interesting to learn that he doesn’t go through the tedium of washing out his brushes at the end of the day with soap and water but just gives them a good swishing in solvent.

He gave us a list of 7 things to look for when evaluating our own work and swears that if we can accomplish these 7 things we will always have a good painting. I’m thinking he might be right.

  1. Composition
  2. Drawing
  3. Value
  4. Edges
  5. Texture
  6. Color Temperature
  7. Chroma

We painted at Maymont Park. The first day we were at the Italian Garden (although I wandered off from there a little ways up the path for my view of choice). The second day we went down a million stairs to the Japanese Garden. We also went up a million stairs coming out (Phew!). I really understand why serious plein air artists go as light as possible when it comes to equipment. My kit currently weighs about 30 pounds pared down. I need to work on cutting that in half.

I would like to go back to Maymont Park to paint again and since my sister lives just a mile away, I may beg an opportunity to stay with her and her family over a long weekend sometime later this summer or fall.

So, here are the first of two paintings I accomplished. My drawing is off a bit and the light shifted on me and I lost track of it… but I am not completely unhappy with it.

The second painting from the second day is perhaps the best plein air painting I have ever done. I’ll share my full challenge of getting it done tomorrow because it is a rather long story if full of angst and some funny moments.Gazebobest6-18


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