Friday, January 18, 2008

All Good Things Come to an End

The workshop is over. As always, mixed feelings of "I am finally free to paint on my own!!!" and "Ah, I wish it lasted a bit more".

The last day started with a demonstration of how to paint a reflective surface - in that case, John Salminen painted a quarter sheet of a rainy street scene. He just did his magic, and did a pretty cool little painting.

We then proceeded to work on our paintings, continued to a potluck lunch, in which w'all sang "Happy Birthday" to John, who kept his cool and went for the startled-yet-amused look. He blew out the candles and shared the birthday cake with us.

Then came the last part of the workshop: the dreaded critique session.

Each of us put their painting of the easel. Since there were 18 of us, we had to pick only one painting per artist: either the abstract on which we worked for 3 days (some of us kept working on it until the every last moment today), or the piece we did to incorporate the lessons into our own style.

While it would have been nice to get my nonobjective one critiqued, it was more important for me to get feedback on the one that is closer to what I would paint after the workshop. Especially since I was struggling with it. During the morning, I tried to figure out why the portrait does not work. One of the workshop participants came by and commented that it's the colors I used - and she was right. It's true that once you have your value pattern right, it doesn't matter what colors you choose. However, since I was not just going for likeness, but rather tried to capture John's essence and personality, the colors I was using were just wrong; they were too vivid, too sweet, too obvious. in the 5 days we got to know him, I got the impression that John is a complex deep person, which calls for more subtle, neutralized colors. Lime green and orangey pink totally do not describe him! Plus, the background was way too distracting. So, I said G'bye to the intense colors that were in his face (to the horror of a couple of the participants) and started to go over them with more, shall we say, manly colors. I then toned down the garish background that was fighting for attention, and it was starting to look much, much better!

When it was up for critique, after come inevitable self-diminishing comments from John about his looks (mind you, he's quite a looker!), he gave his comments about my painting - and I could finally breathe... It is so intimidating to have someone look at a painting of himself, but since John is an artist, he was not concentrating on the likeness nor sued me for making his face fatter than it is (can you say Ernest Hemingway?...). I was very happy with his comments, especially when he glorified the lost edge of the face in the white shape, complimented me on the rich neutral colors and said - listen to this - that the painting has luminosity.


Never, ever, has a painting of mine been connected with this word. (When I shared this bit of his critique with WackieM, she almost fainted laughing - see, she knows my work!). Apparently, these value bridges and shapes had a major impact on me. I usually just blend everything together, and pretty much avoid shape. John Salminen is the first instructor who managed to make me paint shapes rather than a big blur of colors and then lines. And y'know something? shapes are so much fun!!!

So, this is where the painting's at right now. It still needs some work on the face (The JohnnyB demands that I fix his protruding forehead and transplant hair on his bare temple...), it screams for some major work on the background - but I am starting to like it. (go to the buttom of the previous post to see the updated slideshow).

oh, Oh, OH - almost forgot!!! while we were having lunch, John stood up, announcing there's one bit of business that needs to be taken care of. He asked the workshop coordinator to pick a number between 1 and 18.

"16", she said.

"Number 16 gets the demo painting", he smiled, checked the list in his hand, and added, "Number 16 is - - - Nava".

And so, I am the owner of a John Salminen painting!!!

- - - - --- Very.
- - - -- - - - - - - - - - Cool!!!

And now I feel indebted. I promised John that when I manage to paint a good portrait of him, I will send it. Like, painting exchange. OK, OK, so he is John Salminen and I am only Nava, but still!

Of course, when The JohnnyB came home and was promptly asked which of the three paintings is his favorite, he pointed at the painting that I won. Story of my life.

OK then; still a long way to go...

...and yet - as I was hoping in the first day, quite a bit has rubbed off. That was one great workshop - went for it with very high expectations, and - - - they were actually met!


Myrna Wacknov said...

I wasn't laughing because he said you had luminosity in the painting. I was laughing at your reaction to his comments. Now, back to your portrait....this is really fabulous, a true breakthrough in your work. Edges, brushwork, great color. By knocking back some of the bright colors, those that are left pure just sing!

Mike said...

Why am I impressed? I always am when it comes to your work, Nava. You are a natural! Make special note of the things he taught you in the non objective piece . . . .they apply in all styles! Value bridges, Shape design, value pattern etc etc. Way to go on his portrait! You caught him and the design speaks of him too!

Mike said...

Oh! One more thing. Congrats on winning the painting. I am jealous! :-)

FoodieP said...

Well done! very impressive critique (luminous!) and a JS painting to boot. The slide show is such a complement to ur description of the workshop. thanks for letting me peek over ur shoulder on ur workshop journey.

Nava said...


Myrna, well, I am allowed to some artistic license when writing my blog :-)

As we all know, I master knocking back bright colors - I think this workshop has finally convinced me to spare some and leave them pure, so they can do the singin'...

Mike, trust me - I took notes. But, better than that - I have his DVD (excellent is an understatement!), so I can always go back to it and relive the workshop. As for his portrait- that's why I chose to do his image, so it forces me to put an emphasis on design. Apparently, it did it!

FoodieP, The bill is in the mail :-)