Cheerful and Colorful Paintings

Cheerful and Colorful Paintings in Oil, Acrylic, Mixed Media and Collage
nancystandlee@sbcglobal.net

Monday, October 8, 2007

Carla O'Connor Workshop, Day 1, October 8, 2007 ~ Lubbock, TX ~ Art Blog

Carla O'Connor
Nancy's first day effort 11 x 15 Seated Lady Watercolor and Gouache on Hot Press Paper


I am loving this first day of the Carla O’Connor Workshop. I put down my $50 deposit last year while in Lubbock for the George James workshop. I’d seen Carla’s work online and in art magazines, admired it, and decided if there was a way possible I wanted to take from her. It happened that it was back to back with the Robert Burridge in Mendocino, Ca. and I arrived home from that one Saturday afternoon, stayed up until 1:00 a.m. getting ready, and left Sunday for this one, but I’ve made it and didn’t fall asleep in class today.
I left Arlington about 8:30 a.m. Sunday and put on the cruise and drove like a mad woman to get unloaded and to the 3:00 demo which was about a five hour drive. I couldn’t help but compare the California twisty, turn signs I’d seen the previous week to the strait as an arrow ones I saw on Sunday. The most curved one was a slight curved arrow when the interstate narrowed down to one lane for road construction. The landscape didn’t change much from open land and ranches, with lots of oaks and mesquites, until after Abilene. On into west Texas, cotton was growing and oil wells began to pop into view. One farm had harvested the cotton and it was stacked and looked like giant loaves of bread with a silver covering over the tops. I made it with one gas stop, cheese crackers for lunch and not near enough coffee. I kept listening to country music and writing down possible painting titles from the lyrics.
Because of some miscommunication Carla didn’t make it on Sunday for the demo but we enjoyed one of the WTWS society member’s demo. Carla will demo Tuesday night instead. She is a delight. She said this was a first for her to miss a demo but as of late she’s been having some “firsts”…well, join the club.
Our class runs from 9-4 and is sponsored by the WTWS. They have a converted fire house for a meeting room and it is wonderful. We had a clothed model this morning in the center of the room and all of our tables were around the model stand in a circle and there was room enough for Carla to walk by for mini critiques. I would say this is one of Carla’s strengths. She gives a thorough explanation of the exercise and then is on the move constantly seeing each student’s work and speaking with them. She’d given us a handout about principles and elements of design and we tackled the first on the list today. It was all about SHAPES. She said, “I’ll give you about 10X more information than you can handle until another workshop with me next year”. I hope. I wish. She promises to tell a good “joke” after lunch to encourage people to get back on time. Carla says she is not a big colorist and likes grays and what do you expect as “I live in Seattle”.
She stressed to forget about the figure and look for shapes. I don’t think I did that very well during the painting session the last 1 ½ hours of the class, I see her my lady's arm needs more work. She told us not to pull it back to realism and I did and I'll try to follow directions better on Tuesday.
The first drawing exercise was something I’ve never done – short gesture drawing BUT we couldn’t change our sheet of paper. We kept working on that one sheet and overlapping the shapes. Finally, we changed sheets and drew some figures and divided it into 4 sections to look for possible figures for paintings. She cautions us to put your mark down with authority. We are creating the skeleton of the painting and you want your bones to be strong. I highlighted this statement after I didn’t do it “Resist the urge to make it REAL. Make a DESIGN.” We did exercises like the “raisin head”, no curved lines, “brain strain” and “dead body” and later we painted on quarter sheets in the afternoon.
After lunch, we had a group meeting to discuss some painting techniques with her admonition “All paint is the same, just different binders and use the fuzzy end of the stick”. All I can say is that Carla has certainly learned how to use the fuzzy end of the stick. Her palette is another story. Her arrangement was given by “I put reds on one end and blues on the other.” Yes, she’s a joy. She saved her old paint in the lid to use as a wonderful gray “Mother color” and she is not continually wiping it clean. Many of her paintings are done with a gold gesso ground on hot press paper. They have a beautiful glow. She prefers round brushes and less water for the gouache paints.
Creative Catalyst has made a dvd of her watercolor instruction but it is not available yet. You can always email them to be notified when it is available.
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2 comments:

Elizabeth Taylor said...

Nancy, thanks for another great blog entry. I love the idea of painting shapes and getting away from realism -- just giving yourself permission to do this is such a big step -- one you've obviously practiced in both the O'Connor and Burridge workshops! I've taken your advice and sent a message to CCP to request an O'Connor DVD when it becomes available (and I did mention your blog as where I learned about it). Have fun in Lubbock but hurry home to us soon! BT

Margie said...

Thanks again Nancy for all the great information and wonderful descriptions of you workshop. You must be on overload but having a marvelous time paintng everyday.
Miss you but wouldn't miss your blog at the end of the day.
luvu,
mw