We had a wonderful workshop experience with Don Andrews during our February Workshop. He taught us a lot of things, starting with setting up our palettes like a color wheel. Cerulean blue, Scarlet red and Lemon yellow were some of his true primaries, while Ultramarine blue , Permanent magenta and Burnt sienna were his dark primaries. You can build an entire painting with these colors.

Don demonstrated how to granulate colors by using a wet into wet technique and painting in the 3 primaries and letting them mix on the paper for a beautiful effect. The goal is to make a colorful page in harmony.

There are 4 basic design plans for a painting:  

  1. Light surrounded by dark or middle values, like the Spanish mission he did in the dome on Sunday.
  2. Dark surrounded by middle and light.
  3. Light/dark surrounded by middle.
  4. Alternation of lighter area next to darker area next to lighter area and so on.

Don’t copy reality. Painting is not brush strokes but planning and design. No art is real, it is better than real. Like a real bumble bee compared to the musical “Flight of the Bumblebee”.

Take a series of photos and integrate them into a painting composition. Think like an artist, not a reporter.

Saving whites in paintings can be stark so put light washes over them, or add shadows or people.

Simplify patterns, one way is to overlap things to create an interesting pattern rather than paint one thing net to another. Patterns make unity and tie things together. Make one or two things darker to bring it forward. For instance, geometrics are boring so overlap and make them oblique.

To help move the eye through a scene use what Ed Whitney called “Papa, Momma, baby bear” shapes – moving from one to another, papa place in the middle of the other two. Uneven groupings provide interest. Contrast attracts the eye as well as hard edges.

When putting figures in landscapes he never paints feet or fingers. A good rule of thumb is that the head should occupy 10%, the torso is 50% and the legs are 40%. Tie the figure to the ground with a shadow.

As far as equipment goes, he likes to use Robert Simmons white sable synthetic brushes, in number 10 and 12 and mix colors in a traditional butcher plate or two.

It was exhausting and exhilarating. Thank you so much to the hard workings students who learned and had fun in a stress-free environment.

Thank you to McRae Art studios for providing the light filled atmosphere in a beautiful studio setting. And Don Andrews who taught us with humor, examples and lots of demos! For those who missed it he has a new “Designing Nature” course through his website. We all came away with many plans for our next paintings.