Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Plein Aire with Dave Santillanes in Sedona, AZ October 2013

Three days of excellent instruction, followed by the Sedona Plein Aire Arts Festival's opening paint-out made me one lucky painter. Although arrival day found me in a seedy motel (looked OK on the internet), I was treated to an almost-full moonrise and a gorgeous sunrise.

Day 1. Dave Santillanes's workshop 
I had the good fortune to meet Dave last spring at the Oil Painters of America show - he is a terrific painter, a lovely man, and, as I quickly discovered, a superb instructor.  For a portrait painter to tackle an open landscape is kind of overwhelming, but Dave was able to present a structured and logical approach that was both simple and sophisticated, if that makes sense. Our first afternoon out was at a location known as Schnebly Hill Road (which, BTW, is a glorious way to travel the Sedona-Flagstaff route, if you have a 4- wheel vehicle and a bit of nerve).

Days 2 and 3. Return to Schnebly Hill Road in the morning, then to Dry Creek Vista for the afternoon/next  am sessions.

Both locations are within about 10 minutes of downtown Sedona, and very easily accessible. Below, Dave doing another beautiful demo and working with one of the students.

It's impossible to imagine the beauty of this AZ mountain town if you haven't been there in person.

Saturday, Plein Aire paint-out, scattered along Sedona's Main Street

Below, Artists Josh Been and Bill Cramer knocking out fabulous demos; in my role as umbrella holder; and artist Brad Holt enjoying Dave's demo.

Above, our group, sitting on what, according to a guide with two tourists, insisted was The. Most.Amazing. Vortex. If you have your crystal with you. (I think the tour runs some $295 per couple.) Really.

Lest anyone worry that the event was too relaxing, it was, as you can see, essential  to closely review the principles of atmospheric perspective from the viewpoint of the not-seedy hotel into which I moved right after that sunrise. My college roommate dashed over from the coast to hang out in Sedona for a few days and she insisted that I do this homework. It was not my idea.


And, artist friends, did you realize that absinthe is now legal again? We had to taste it to be sure, and I can see how it might have made Hemingway crazy (rumored to have started each day with a glassful of absinthe and a champagne chaser, and you can see how well that ended for him)  This pretty little decanter (more info here for the inquiring mind ) seems to be an essential part of the process.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, and a trip to the Eastern Market

Despite fairly constant rain and the government shutdown, the Corcoran Gallery stood out as a jewel among a weekend of wonderful events. This smallish gallery has an exquisite American/European collection of paintings and sculpture. I'd have to say that while I was wowed with so many of the paintings, my jaw just dropped when I turned to see the Veiled Nun (Giuseppi Croff), which is sculpted from marble. I can't describe how much I wanted to touch this piece, and I am mesmerized wondering how in the world this was created. I'll have to ask my sculptor friends for some input. Seriously,  LOOK at this.

One of my all-time favorite painters is Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema; this tiny gem, "A Difficult Line from Horace" was a sparkler; you can see the painting's scale in comparison to my hand.

The two matching portraits of George Washington (flanking the larger painting) were both painted by Gilbert Stuart, who painted the original, from-life portrait -which itself is in the National Portrait Gallery (closed this weekend due to the government shut-down). There were two of the perhaps 75? replicas Stuart painted from his original, which  remained undelivered past his deadline (when George and Martha were still  alive), past the Washingtons' deaths, and even past his own death. He used his 'delayed delivery' time wisely, selling off the other 73 or so to finance a lush lifestyle. I'll have to fact check all of these details when I review my September notes from John  Howard Sanden's fabulous lecture on the Presidential  Portraits).

No trip to DC would be complete without protesters along the fences facing the White House. Sign painters always planning ahead.

...and finally, barbarians at the gate.