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Posts Tagged ‘Penn Yan’

Painting Workshop 2018

Like most Americans, I have found the last couple of days have been exhausting. My reasons are most likely different than most other Americans. I was fortunate in not being able to watch the proceedings surrounding the Supreme Court and instead spent the last two days leading a painting workshop up in Penn Yan.

Tiring but not maddening. I feel so fortunate.

It’s a two day workshop and these people do an amazing amount of work in a very short time. Probably too much. Working off a piece that I am painting in front of them, they basically finish two decent sized paintings in two days, start to finish. The last half of each day is a flurry of activity as each of them moves quickly to bring the painting to state of completion.

There is little time to consider each movement. Just paint.

At the end of each day I am always stunned by how well they have adapted to techniques that are not easy and require a bit of practice, more than the short time in this workshop affords, in order to have any degree of mastery. I look at the work completed and realize that what they have done is much more than I do normally do in any two days in my studio. I am not sure they even realize how much they have done.

Hopefully, they take some small bit of the experience with them. Maybe look at the pieces they’ve done and say Wow, I did that!

It was great group and I feel fortunate to have gotten to now each of them a bit more. I am sincerely proud of each of them and how much they have done in the short time we worked together.

But like I said it’s exhausting, a lot of work and anxiety for a guy whose real comfort zone is in my studio tucked away from the rest of the world. I am not sure if I am going to do it again but if I do, it will be because the folks who come each year treat me so well. I think if I do opt to do it again, we would only work on one painting and work at an easier pace where they can take more time to consider what they are doing.

But that is the future. As to the present, many thanks to to the great folks I spent the last two days with. It was my pleasure.

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Character

I am busy getting things around today for a workshop that I am leading up at Penn Yan in the beautiful Finger Lakes tomorrow and Friday. This is only my fourth year doing this but every year I say that this is most likely the last time I will do this. The words have already left my mouth this year.

I do not feel that I am a natural teacher and get somewhat stressed out doing these, much more so than giving a talk. Because the folks at the workshop are paying to be there, I worry that they won’t get their money’s worth. That’s where the anxiety comes in for me. I probably overcompensate in response to this but if it helps me feel that I have given something of value to these folks, then I can accept that.

Even though it’s stressful, I have to say that I am glad to be doing this workshop this year, given what might be happening in the next couple of days in DC. I would rather be teaching a few of my techniques to willing and friendly faces than yelling and swearing at my television.

Now that is stress.

So, I am taking a few days off from the blog. The image and Helen Keller quote at the top speak very much to the trials this country is currently experiencing. Whatever character we possess as a nation, now is the time it will be truly revealed.

Good luck to us all. See you in a few days.

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2015 YCAC Workshop- The class hard at workThe best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.

Edward Bulwer- Lytton

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I tried to bear these words from English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton (famous for coining the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” and the most famous of beginning lines, “it was a dark and stormy night“) in mind when I began instructing a two day workshop on Thursday at the Art Center in Penn Yan.  Having never taken an art course or workshop outside of a disastrous college drawing class thirty-some years ago, I had little reference material on which to base my instruction to the group.  I wanted to show them some of my techniques and have them hopefully incorporate them in their own work or be able to use these techniques as a springboard into something new of their own making.  I just wasn’t sure how to get that across but I knew that just having them leave inspired to want to paint would be my main objective.

After the first day, I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this task at all.

I started with a quick demonstration and then sent the group immediately into the paint with limited direction on where they could  go with it.  I just wanted them to work with the process and get used to seeing the paint move and mix.  But by the end of the day I could see that many of the group were frustrated in trying to master the technique and I was afraid I had put too much in front of them.  Going home that first evening, I realized I was asking them to learn a process in several hours that had taken me thousands of hours to master.  It would be like a musician playing a fairly difficult piece then asking someone who was observing to play it in a few hours.

So on the second day I showed a simplified version of the technique.  The work of the day before, frustrating as it had seemed,  seemed to set the groundwork for making the new work seem easy to handle.  They watched my demo in the morning and they just took off like a rocket after that.

Bonnie B. With her finished painting

Bonnie B. With her finished painting

I was blown away by what happened.  Each member of the group went in their own direction, those with some prior experience seamlessly meshing the technique with their own prior experience and creating pieces that were uniquely their own.  I was amazed at how much solid work was produced in such a short time by this group.  By the end of the day, my frustrations and anxieties were completely lifted and I left feeling that something of value had been transferred to this group, something they could use for to help them find their own path forward.

It was very satisfying.

Many, many thanks to everyone in the workshop.  You were patient, intent, fun and easy to work with.  You made my first venture into teaching a wonderful experience and provided a lot of inspiration that I will carry forward with me.  While I am glad that you may have learned something from me, be assured that I learned as much from you and for that, I can’t express my gratitude enough.  Thank you, Paulina, Jackie, Patti, Suzanne, Frank, Gini, Joy, Bonnie and Grace.  I listed the names from the front of the room to the rear.  Grace was obviously a trouble-maker so she was relegated to the rear table.

Thanks also to Kris Pearson at the YCAC for her dogged perseverance in getting me to head this workshop.  She was determined to have me do this and succeeded despite my initial resistance.  I am glad she did.

Frank B. showing off his distinct style

Frank B. showing off his distinct style

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Next:  TOMORROW, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20–  GALLERY TALK  at the PRINCIPLE GALLERY  in ALEXANDRIA- 1 PM

Come on info a lively talk on art and stuff and you might win this painting!

There Will a Drawing For This Painting at the Gallery Talk on Sunday

There Will a Drawing For This Painting at the Gallery Talk on Sunday

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Heidevolk Sunday on a Mastodon Vulgaris MagistralisIt’s a pretty busy Sunday morning as I am in the midst of prepping for a two day workshop I’m giving this week in Penn Yan followed by my annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria next Sunday.  More details on that in the next few days.

So while I am a little tight on time this week I wanted to keep up with my habit of playing some Sunday music.  This week is a bit of an oddity and is nowhere near where I thought the song might end up.  I stumbled across this video from a a Dutch group called Heidevolk which  translates as  “heather folk.”  They consider themselves to be a pagan folk metal band and base their music on Germanic mythology and ancient pagan themes.

Yikes!

Not what I envisioned for this morning but this song and video made me laugh and I found myself myself kind of half singing along by the end.  It’s called Vulgaris Magistralis and is about some sort of mythic figure  who hides from sight like a Yeti  but comes out to ride around on his mammoth.

And on Sunday he rides a mastodon.  So if you’re out there today and get cut off in traffic by a guy on a hairy elephant, be careful– it might be Vulgaris Magistralis.  And his road rage is epic.

Have a great day!

 

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Vincent Van GoghWhy does one not hold on to what one has, like the doctors or engineers; once a thing is discovered or invented they retain the knowledge; in these wretched fine arts all is forgotten, and nothing is kept.

Vincent Van Gogh

Letter to his brother Theo 1888

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When I read this quote from Van Gogh, I flashed back to a conversation I had several years back with an artist friend who was urging me to begin filming my painting process.  He said that a deer could jump in front of my car going home from the gallery that night and nobody would ever know how my  paintings came about.  He  thought would be a loss.

That made me think but I still didn’t follow his advice and protected my process, except for small glimpses here and there, for years like an alchemist greedily withholding their found knowledge.  It was one of several reasons for my lack of enthusiasm for teaching.

But time normally changes all things.  I began to realize that it was a fool’s mission in keeping my process to myself.  The  process was tool for expression– it was not the expression.

An artist often has individual expression that transcends subject, material and technique.  For example, an artist painting exactly like me– same trees and process– would produce work that would be different than my own.  It would have a different soul, if it had one at all.  If this artist’s purpose was mere copying, it would not.  I can say this because I’ve seen this before.

So, after a bit, I came to understand that showing or teaching my process would not diminish my work in any way.  In fact, I began painting the way that I do because I initially wanted to see paintings that I wasn’t seeing anywhere else.  Wouldn’t it be great to spur that same thing in others?

To that end, as I announced earlier, I am teaching my first two day workshop,  September 17 & 18,  at the Arts Center of Yates County in Penn Yan, NY.  It’s a lovely town sitting at the end of scenic Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, famed for their beautiful vistas and multitude of wineries.

I am pretty excited about this and am starting to put together just how I want to teach this.  I don’t want to spend any more energy  hiding my process and I plan to fill each of the  two days with as much info as I can get across while still making it entertaining and educational.  So if you want to spend a couple of late summer days in a beautiful setting learning a form of expression that might spur other good things for you, contact the Arts Center of Yates County.

Hope to see you there.

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GC Myers YCAC ClassOver the years I have been asked many, many times whether I offered classes or would be willing to teach and each time I have  answered with a hearty no.  There were several reasons for the answer.

First, not having taken any classes myself, I felt uninformed as to how to instruct a group.  It was out of my comfort zone and I just didn’t feel as though I had the qualifications or anything to offer.  Plus, I wasn’t sure if I could paint and talk at the same time.  I am not the most coordinated person in the world.

Second, it took time away from my own painting.  I am the artistic equivalent of a gym rat, always in place in my studio nearly everyday for about twelve or more hours.  It is who I am and what I do.  Time away from it is sometimes painful to endure.

The third, and definitely the most important, reason was that I was just hesitant in sharing any of the process behind much of my work that had taken thousands of hours alone in the studio to develop.  Trade secrets, if you will, that needed to be protected.

But over the last few years, I have come to understand that it is not purely process but the person behind it that makes the work come alive and that by hiding the process I was being small and petty.  There was nothing to fear from someone learning from my experience.  In fact, there might be insights to be gained from seeing how others react to working with my process.

So, this year I finally relented, after much urging from the director of the Arts Center of Yates County,  and will be giving a two day workshop featuring my process at  their wonderful facility in Penn Yan , NY, in the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes.  It will take place beginning on either September 16 or 17— we are still working out final details.  The workshop will be from about 9:30 AM until 4:30 each day with a lunch break and  will be limited to 15 students.  If there is enough demand, there is always the possibility of adding a second session.

My feeling is that this is for all levels of ability, from non-painters up to those with much  more experience.  My goal is to pass on what I have gleaned from my journey over the past two decades so that it might send someone down their own personal path.  I want everyone in attendance to take away something new and of value for themselves.  And I guarantee that there will be no shortage of stories.

If you’re from out of the area and don’t know the Finger Lakes region of New York, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise– it is an area filled with extreme natural beauty, many wonderful wineries, great watersports and a calming atmosphere.  A perfect place to getaway to.  So, if you’d like to spend a couple of late summer days painting with me in the Finger Lakes,  I urge you to contact the Arts Center of Yates County at this link and get on the list.

 

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9913-222  Revelation in Blue  smJust a quick reminder that I will be  at the Flick Gallery at the Arts Center of Yates County  for the opening of the show, Earthworks.  As one of the featured artists for this show,which is focused on the use of earth forms in creative works, I am showing a representative group of  my work.

The opening runs from 5-7 PM and is at their location at  127 Main Street in Penn Yan, at the northern end of beautiful Keuka Lake.  Wine will be provided by Glenora Winery. The exhibit runs until June 15.

Hope to see you there!

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