I enjoyed taking Jen Evenhus’ The Beauty of Imperfection workshop sponsored by the Pastel Society in Saco, Maine. It was held in a lovely conference center right on the water.
I’m so glad my friend encouraged me to come! Having the beach right out the door was wonderful. Most of all, I loved all the people. I want to return to paint and be with them again.
The droplets on my screen reflected the sunrise. The hydrangeas and porch rocking chairs were fabulous. Multiple beach walks, morning, afternoon, and night, were a delight. The food was good. The warmth and camaraderie of the community was refreshing and nourishing.
There is good content in this workshop to get the student out of feeling like they need to paint realistically. Although my blog readers obviously know that I am already a died-in-the-wool convert of that approach, I still appreciated it getting preached and practiced by others.
I also liked this instructor’s concurrent themes to my own regarding the importance of spirituality, authenticity, and thinking while you paint. She had seven points to cultivate for being more “artful in your life,” and I qualified intensely on every single one, as this blog testifies regularly. All that is very confirming and I’m glad she’s teaching it and working it too.
The only thing I painted in the workshop that I liked is shown above, and it will be a touchstone to remind me to use more photo references for my abstract work. I tend to take in such huge quantities of visual stimuli that when it comes to painting abstractly, I’m completely in my head. It was really fun to manipulate the photo reference as I did in that workshop piece.
My other take-away from the workshop is letting more of my underpainting remain, and I realized a limited palette is a great way to do that, since that makes you desperate to utilize whatever color is showing through from beneath. You’ll not cover it up because you need it, and then it has the added benefit of unifying the painting.
Remaining inside painting still-lifes over and over again, when I was beachside in Maine, on a September day sporting perfect weather for painting in plein air, was a bit excruciating for me, but I survived. Not my thing, but I liked what others did with it. I guess it also served to limber us up.
I got remarkably straight-shooting feedback from the instructor regarding my future art-career directions. This quick but frank commentary was essential for me to hear. I’m clear that I will not climb the pastel hierarchy, because my audience is definitely elsewhere. Meanwhile, I’ll participate in pastel societies to foster community. This instructor’s willingness to get specific about how and why not to waste my time was both rare and valuable.
So I made some new friends, and have some clarified goals, with fresh impetus to move forward. I’m also glad for the great conversations my friend (your fellow blog reader) and I had going and coming in the car. All in all, it was a great way to end my summer. I’m grateful!
Check out the photos below; there was some other artwork in the class I wish I took photos of, especially the one of garlic bulbs in a still life, and another of looking up into a tree, where the teal strokes made my heart sing. Alas, too much good to capture it all. But there is enough in this post to give you the flavor of our special time together.