Last week I attended a wonderful oil portrait painting workshop in south-east France at Atelier Nadai, with the amazing artist David Gray (www.davidgrayart.com).
Attending workshops is a great way to practice what we know already, as well as learn how other artists tackle the process of painting. David was generous with his knowledge, kind and funny, and hardly told us off at all...
The first day was drawing the face, using the traditional measuring technique, and it took us all day. By the end of the day, after a lot of sighing and groaning (in arty agony), squinting and reworking, we had transferred the image onto the canvas ready for the next day. (David did try to make it clear that in fact, HE was the only one allowed to sigh. SIGH.. By the fourth day, I had resorted to growling in frustration at my painting.)
David started each day with a long demonstration before letting us loose. On the second day, we began with a colour study in the morning, and then moved on to the underpainting. Trying out a different palette of colours is always interesting, and David used a couple of colours that were new to me - I liked them (which is just as well, as I was going to be using them like it or not!). One new one was Quinacradone Violet.
We were in the studio for long hours, from 8am - 6.30, on average, but it was still a struggle to get everything done. David's hurry-up phrase was, "c'm-ON guys..."
I painted the hair in less than an hour, as my taxi was coming to take me to the train station, ah ah aaaaaaah!! But, there's nothing like a deadline to make you focus and slap something down.
As my painting was still wet, and very unfinished, by the time I had to leave, I left it in the studio to dry. I look forward to receiving it in the post so that I can do some glazing.
The proof of the pudding, of course, is less what is completed during the workshop, and much more about what you actually take home with you to your own studio. I have spent two days painting since I got home, on an artwork that I'd already started. And yes, I am working slightly differently, I am seeing slightly differently and I... like it. I DO feel the benefit of taking the course and would do it again. But remember, a course like this isn't dreamy - it's hard work and not for sissies.
The students came from all over the place - Norway, Switzerland, South Africa, some from other parts of France, and David had travelled from Seattle. Obviously, we all take it pretty seriously!
Atelier Nadai is evenly-lit, lovely and airy. Michel Nadai is a master craftsman, of painted murals and trompe-l'oeil (http://www.atelier-nadai.com/en_GB) and Kyoko runs the studio with an air of graceful calm. She also did an amazing job of translating everything David said, into French, as we went along.
I know, south of France sounds lovely, but in March, the weather was baltic and wet - definitely the lower range of temperatures. But, we were there for the art and to be honest, it was pretty sunny inside the studio.
For upcoming workshops, in Colour pencil, pastels, drawing, water colour and oils, please email email@example.com