Sunday, 13 November 2016

David Gray's Belfast Workshop, part 2!

...David's workshop ran for 6 days. With two models sitting all week, this meant we had a three day pose for each model, allowing us the opportunity to try two different painting techniques with plenty of time to complete both of them. Often, students assume that there is one 'correct' process to successsful painting, but in fact there are many ways to work so it is invaluable to try more than one approach. Yes, this can appear to be confusing - but my best advice would be not to rush ahead, but instead, do today's work today and let the process unravel... There is, eventually, a logic to it!

Our models were Monty and Rory, who both worked tirelessly and with good cheer. It was very warm at times  (yes, even Belfast can get warm!) which is always a challenge for models, but a fan at the feet helped them cool down. David's second demonstration was of Rory.

First demo of the second pose 
David is generous with every aspect of his painting skills, encouraging questions at appropriate times, and showing the intensity of focus required. He also emphasised the benefits of good observation drawing skills, describing them as fundamental to good painting.

David's initial soft block-in

Still part of the first demo of Rory, David adds a little more information but keeping everything soft

The end of the first demo, more details added and it is beginning to look like Rory.
Of course, watching a demonstration is all very well, but it is time at each easel which really counts. Demonstrations could last for up to an hour, but 'catching up' at the easel took longer. Each session was intense - full concentration required at all times!

Our turn to catch up! Note the fan at Rory's feet 

Dermot chats to David about his artwork

The next demo

David's demonstration painting progresses
 For this second painting, we did not begin with a grisaille, but instead worked straight into colour. This was not quicker, but just different. David promoted the process of painting using small 'tiles', taking care to mindfully mix a fresh colour for each tile. This makes for careful slow progress, using what he described as 'drawing eyes' to seek the colours required. Large sweeps of generalised colours were discouraged.

Work in progress

Bill, nick and Dermot

Nick and Dermot working on their paintings of Monty

Sari working hard

David's demonstration. He covered all aspects of the process, even though there was not time for him to complete is own work
Toward the end of day 6 - don't be fooled by those cheery faces, we were getting very tired!
By the afternoon of the final day, everyone was tired. Personally, when I"m tired I begin dropping things, so decided at around 3pm that before I dropped anything, I would call it a day. I packed my paints away and then got a bit of a second wind, so got them out again and almost immediately picked the wrong colour off my palette by mistake and put a blob of white where it shouldn't have been! I took the hint and packed up all over again - but all around me tell-take signs of fatigue were appearing. First,  there was a screech as someone sat on their palette (!), then a student's canvas fell of the easel to the floor, then a couple of brushes flew out of someones hand across the room... Ah yes, there is always a time to stop!

The full group, including David Gray at the back left, and models Rory and Monty sitting on the foor. 
 In true style, the evening was rounded off with refreshments, because hard work is thirsy work! It was a rewarding and highly enjoyable workshop -  a lot of ground was covered, with just the right amounts of frustration, enlightenment and success. Gathering of knowledge is a life long process and it was fantastic to have such an international gathering of creative folk in Belfast.

Thanks to everyone for participating so whole heartedly, and to David Gray for his professionalism and true dedication.
Janetta proving that painting is thirsty work!
Finally, the next day Mark 'didn't-we-all-do-well' McDonald brought his trailer back and helped me take everything away again - easels, chairs, stages, fans, kitchen sink.  Thanks Mark, you're my left hand man!
Who's idea was ths anyway...??! This is what pooped looks like! 

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