Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pt. Reyes workshop

I taught a 2 day workshop out at Pt. Reyes a few weekends ago. We had sunny skies, but a fair amount of wind, which did have impact our activities, but not our spirit. It was a great group and a wonderful location, which I hope to continue exploring over the seasons and years. As the class convened on a Friday evening at the Clem Miller Center out at Limantour, I drove up in the early afternoon to scout a few spots, and get warmed up.

I drove straight to the beach, and hiked out on the spit about a half mile towards Drake's Estero, realizing eventually that I would never drag everyone out this far unless there was something unique about the view. One justification for it is that the further one walks from the parking lot, the less likely others have painted those views. Disregarding the point of view, the light, color, and forms of the world were not appreciably different, so there was no reason to ask people to walk that far. The wind was blowing pretty strong, so I set up facing into the wind, and painted 2 views from the same spot, exploring the textured masses of foliage and grass, trees making sharp silhouettes into the glare of the afternoon sky, and the cooler colors of distant cliffs in relative contrast to the mid-ground. It was very bright out there, so I tried a coral covered paper, as opposed to my usual default color of twilight. I'm currently of the mind that picking an overall value key, as opposed to merely a "non-conflicting" color like twilight is worth trying, especially when dealing with very bright or dark situations. 2 artists I've seen that use a similar ground are Lorenzo Chavez (pastels) and Jennifer McChristian (Oils). Jennifer's pink ground tends to be a lot more saturated than Lorenzo's.

Just rotating right from the same position, in late afternoon light, looking northwest...
The wind was blowing pretty steady the entire time, and it was getting around 5, so I packed up, hiked back to the car, and drove to the facility, which is located just past the youth hostel at the end of the road. 

Several folks were already pulled up and unpacking, so I did the same. As the days are long, and the light was good, I set up in front of the conference center to do a demo of some trees across the meadow. There were a lot of repeat folks from my previous workshop, so it was a pretty jovial and talkative  group right off. A relaxing way to start a class.

Here's the Friday evening demo, with a fair amount of clean up in the studio.

We got out of camp pretty early on Saturday morning and headed down to Limantour. There was a light haze, most evident when looking towards the sun, so I did my next demo of that, just going for the ragged, graphic silhouettes and the morning glare in the sky. Folks set up all along the path leading to the beach, and for several hours we had very few people come by.

The ever rising wind drove us back to camp around noon. After lunch, everyone put up their work in the conference center, and we had a critique. During that discussion, I was upstaged by a bobcat that was hunting rodents in the meadow behind all the students. One mention of the bobcat, and the critique was abandoned for the next 20 minutes as we watched it twice stalk and pounce, only to come up empty handed.


There was also an abundance of quail, a covey, a plethora... If you left a building they would come running out from beneath it and scurry ahead of you, seemingly in a panic, then suddenly veer out of your path into some shrubbery, like a car unexpectedly driving off a cliff. The specimen below was strutting on a railing outside the window. Yet another distraction from our serious work. 


As it was still windy, everyone spent the rest of the afternoon painting in camp. We had a great feast of a potluck that evening and then called it a day.

Sunday morning, we were back at it, this time painting from the bluff off the parking lot, and looking away from the sun. The flatness of the light was redeemed a bit by some atmosphere, as well as the iconic graphic forms of the estero and the cliffs. A lot of perspective in this sort of view. There were some interesting interpretations of this view, some choosing to focus on the serpentine channels in marsh below us, and others looking way out to the chalky cliffs towards Drakes Estero. I worked on my demo for awhile, then abandoned it to do walkarounds. Most of my demos feel a bit unfinished, and this one was no different, as I leave them alone to go do walkarounds. I did some clean up work on it back in the studio.

We made it back to camp for lunch, a final crit, and then it was time to cleanup and say our goodbyes. I hope to be doing another workshop in the park in October, out at the Lifeboat Station, which is way out by Chimney Rock. I'll post specifics when I know them. Thanks to everyone for taking the class. It was a great group, and for Regina and Grace for providing assistance. Quail and bobcat photos by Janet Theilen, and the group shot is by Grace Bourke, I believe. 


ddd said...

Wish I was there Bill! I really like the "trees across the meadow" demo! Great pictures of wildlife too.

Speaking of coloured papers, I did a quick test couple of weeks ago. Painting the same scene plein air, using mainly the same pastels on different Canson papers. The result is interesting. Here is a link, sorry for the poor scan but do take a look at it:

ddd said...

Here is a beter version instead!

Paul's Blog said...

Great post Bill, really enjoyed reading it. I will have to take one of your workshops, I have heard great things about them.


Bill Cone said...

Great to hear from you Dalibor. The test is revealing...something I'm discovering as well. I've gotten so used to the Twilight color, but have been trying lighter tones, and seeing a stronger impression of light in the result. Again it seems very much related to the overall value key of light that one is observing.
The image you sent seems more to affect temperature than brightness, as the values aren't radically different.

A warm ground helps push the glow in the shadows in the test piece you posted. Thanks for sharing that.

Hi Paul- Thanks for your comments. I'll be teaching another workshop in Pt. Reyes in October. Dates will be forthcoming.

Mushk Rizvi said...

amazing stuff as always!