the color note exercise

Just back from another workshop in Avon Park, Fl. The kind of place that takes you right back to your childhood and visiting your granma in that little town near Podunk where she used to  live. It was another great oil plein air workshop, 15 happy people. I would tell you all about it, but my good friend Joyce Shelton posted a great write up on her blog with pics of my demos in progress and everything. 3 days, great weather, cool places to paint, especially that Twilight Zone downtown with it's old buildings, boarded up windows, and 33 1/3 pace.

We painted in a state park for two days where there are trees for days, a fun thing to tackle when you have a system figured out but when you are just learning, all that pattern can make you crazy. So the last day we went for something a little more simple, street scenes. I'm posting two demos here from the class. One is  a little 9x12 and the other is an even smaller (2x3.5") color note study.  I started using the color note exercise when I found the students were struggling over the drawing of the thing, mostly because they were always trying to draw the thing they knew ( a palm, a boat, etc) and not a collection of lines and shapes. The color note thing came from a little book on Hawthorne about color where he said, in effect, that it's not about drawing but about putting the right color note in the right place and when you do that the painting will emerge automatically. Personally, I think if you are putting the notes in the right place, you are drawing. But, still it's a great way to get around the drawing problem and really focus on the color problem. I have the students tape off a little window or 3 in their canvas. and put down color notes, starting with the darkest note and going to light with a palette knife. It keeps people from noodling a thing to death, it's fast and people see how the paint itself becomes a major part of the painting. It also helps the student to learn to think in more abstract terms.