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May 2, 2015

The Early Bird Discount for Plein Air Tuscany Ends May 31st...



Hey all, here is a quick reminder letting you know the early bird discount for my 2015 Plein Air Tuscany workshop ends May 31st...

If you have been thinking about going (and I hope some of your are) you can save 10% on your painting instruction, lodging, and meals if you register before then.

On top of the 10% savings offered for this workshop, the Euro has declined significantly against the Dollar, which makes it the least expensive time to tour around in Europe in years. So it is definitely a good time to go. Bring your spouse or partner and we will keep them busy. There have many things for them to do as you paint.


We have just a few spots left. So if you are interested please know soon by email and I will send you detailed information about this exciting trip.

Email Thomas

Ciao!

Thomas


Apr 27, 2015

The Eye vs the Camera...

It's not exactly a Smack-Down between the two, but interesting none-the-less...

Facebookers, if you can't see this video click here...



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Would you like to improve your outdoor painting skills in Italy this next September? If so, click here to learn about my annual Plein air Tuscany! workshop. It is a fantastic experience and garners rave reviews! 

If you want even more info send me an email asking for a FAQ Sheet. It will detail where we will stay, what we will do, what we will learn, and of course, what it will cost. But wow, the US dollar is strong against the Euro right now so there may never be a better year to go than in 2015. Registration is open and folks ARE signing up!...




Apr 20, 2015

The 2015 Plein Air Convention & Expo...


Well, that was fun. 

Last week consisted of a flashmob of around eight hundred plein air painters – accompanied by a host of seasoned pros, supported by a professional staff intent upon keeping things moving along, and lots of energy in the lecture rooms and out in the field. 



Last week was the 4th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE), in Monterey, California, and from my perspective, it was the best one yet. Every year the organizers work hard to raise the bar based upon the feedback they get from the previous year. In fact, the only complaint I heard this year came from a participant who said, "Geez, there are just too many things on the schedule to get to them all!" – which is a nice problem to have. And really, the person who shared that didn't seem all that upset.





As expected, there were a lot of first-timers and newbies in the crowd, ranging from those who had never picked up a brush before to those who had some experience painting outside but were struggling. There were also a lot of intermediate to experienced painters as well. Yet the show agenda was designed to serve all levels and by and large everyone's expectations were met. Maybe one or two people went home unhappy, but if so – well, you can lay the banquet but you can't make everyone eat. 



The demos were well-presented, the talks engaging, most medias were covered, and afterhours fraternizing was encouraged. It was an open, inclusive, and informative event for all.



If I were to try and convey the spirit of this year's convention I'd liken it to the medieval tradition of Kermes, a yearly ritual where everybody in the village gathers together from the King on down to celebrate the advent of Spring. (Oh, Spring, the annual rebirth of the world and what every outdoor painter eagerly anticipates, yes? Especially those of us up north this year!...) A festival time when the planting was celebrated, barriers came down, and people would feast and dance late into the dark. A sort of ancient let's all get down and boogie. Where else will you see the superstars and unknowns of an artistic genre hang out until the wee hours of dawn to talk and laugh together? And then get up to do it again the next day?



There were a few bumps and hiccups, of course. But nothing worth mentioning beyond that. Nothing you shouldn't expect or even embrace during such a large and free-wheeling event as PACE. If you knock off all the corners you are likely to end up with too much polish...



Sure, the cost of admission is high, and perhaps that makes the event a no-go for some folks. Every year there is a call for an alla carte format but I can't see how offering the experience in bits and pieces could work logistically. PACE is an all-in sort of event and frankly, therein lies most of its charm. PACE sets out a giant smörgåsbord of art so if the only thing you want to eat are chicken wings and pizza-by-the-slice then perhaps you shouldn't go. But if you are the kind of person who noshes widely, or someone hoping to take a series of workshops from different master painters over the next few years, then attending a PACE permits you to meet and evaluate many of the best instructors in the business – in one week, in one place – for about what you'd pay for a single workshop. Plus, you can evaluate a potential teacher's interpersonal and communication skills face-to-face, which can be invaluable before you plunk your money down.



The plein air world has always leaned towards inclusion. Because at its core it is a democratic genre. It is also, in other ways, a self-policing meritocracy, and it attracts like-minded people who enjoy painting outdoors together. Not every plein air painter wants to buddy-up, of course, but the general principles of the genre encourage camaraderie and fellowship and the submission of your ego to a thing larger than yourself. So conceit is harder to find in the plein air world and that fact showed at PACE. You could talk to anyone.



After all, where else can you paint next to an artist you've venerated for years only to crash and burn your painting? And then turn to to your left to see they have crash and burned theirs too? (Oh, that 50 mph wind at Asilomar...ha!) 

Where else can you go to meet other members of your tribe? Where else can you be called an 'art-dork' have it feel like a compliment? (I'm looking at you, S...ha!) Where else can you go to meet people from all over the world, make new friends, and create opportunities to paint in places you've never been?




Next year, PACE will be held in Tucson, Arizona. After three years in Monterey, California, the Southwest is the next venue. So get ready to go. There may be some picante twists added into the mix for 2016 but you can expect it will still be a moveable feast...


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Would you like to improve your outdoor painting skills in Italy this September? If so, click here to learn about my Plein air Tuscany! workshop.

Or send me an email and request a FAQ Sheet and Trip Itinerary. They will detail where we will stay, what we will do, what we will learn, and of course, what it costs. But wow, the US dollar is now stronger than the Euro so there may never be a better time to go than in 2015. 

Registration is open and folks are signing up!... (Now just six spots left.)



Apr 8, 2015

Advice on Painting from John Singer Sargent...



Well folks, it's finally ready to share with you all – a labor of love. Enjoy!... TJK


Advice on Painting from John Singer Sargent



(This link will take you to a 4.9 M pdf file stored on GoogleDrive. You can download the book to your computer or tablet from there...)

Free 46 page digital PDF file, suitable for viewing on tablet and computers, illustrated with full color paintings and close up details | This booklet contains two second-hand accounts of Sargent's teaching and painting methods, as recounted by the Honorable Evan Charteris, K.C. in his 1927 biographical book, "Sargent" (now out of print). Sourced and annotated by me, with a brief essay on Sargent, plus selected paintings by Sargent used to illustrate the text. 

If you are a painter I hope you find this useful...


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Would you like to improve your outdoor painting skills in Italy this September? If so, click here to learn about my Plein air Tuscany! workshop.

Or send me an email and request a FAQ Sheet and Trip Itinerary. They will detail where we will stay, what we will do, what we will learn, and of course, what it costs. But wow, the US dollar is now stronger than the Euro so there may never be a better time to go than in 2015. 

Registration is open and folks are signing up!... (Now just six spots left.)



Mar 20, 2015

The Mystery of Seeing Color...

Okay, this is in fact a commercial but it still made me tear up a bit because the technology is real. I read about it a few months ago in a scientific journal. Fifteen years ago, when I ran an illustration department in a BFA program I once taught a young woman how to paint who was congenitally colorblind. Somehow, we made it work.




If you can't see this video click here...

Mar 19, 2015

Painting in the Desert with Friends...

As many of you may know, I spent last week down in the low desert area of Southern California. I flew down to open a show in Palm Springs and paint the native California Palms found in the canyons of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. (I'll post those paintings soon.) I then spent a few days painting with a couple of friends in the Borrego Springs area, further south: Joe Forkan and Eric Merrell.

Here is a short video of Eric and Joe working on a morning painting:



If you can't see this view click here...

I did not get a shot of their finished paintings but if you want to see examples of their work you can visit their websites here:


Both are experienced, dedicated landscape painters who spend a lot of time outdoors painting directly from life. What a pleasure it was to spend some time with them...

I will also post about the the shading system Eric made for himself that you see in this video. It is very clever. I am rarely a fan of painting umbrellas but Eric's set up created a much cooler space to work under. It was already pushing 90 degrees F at 9:30 am and under his umbrella it felt much cooler. Plus, those black panels reduced the amount of light bouncing into his eyes and on to the canvas. A good thing.

I must make something similar myself before I return to the desert!

TJK

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Would you like to improve your outdoor painting skills in Italy next September? If so, click here to learn about my annual Plein air Tuscany! workshop.



If you want info send me an email requesting a FAQ Sheet. The US dollar is strong against the Euro right now so there may never be a better year to go than in 2015. Registration is open and folks ARE signing up!... (Seven spots left!)




Mar 9, 2015

Making Your Own High Quality Plein Air Panels...



I am off to go paint in the Californian desert tomorrow morning before opening a group show in Palm Springs and I got caught short on ordering some plein air panels. (So busy, in and out, in and out. Doh!...) So I had to make some panels Saturday afternoon for this trip. Since I keep the necessary materials around for such an emergency I can make panels at a moment's notice. But usually if I have enough turn-around time I order them from my favorite suppliers. I don't find the cost-savings of making them to be enough of a motivation to do it regularly...

But hey, if if you are pinched for time like I was, here is a quick walk through. The key to doing this easily is in the adhesive.

The Materials You Need: 

1. For small panels, 1/8 or 3/16 inch hardboard (often called Masonite™). Tempered or untempered is fine. At least one side must be smooth.

2. Some pre-primed linen (For these panels I used the remainder from a 6 yard x 64 inch roll of double-primed Claussen's linen purchase at 50% off using a coupon from my local art store. A steal...) 

3. The secret ingredient: Dap Water-based Weldwood low VOC Contact Cement. (Recommended to me by Karl Bostwick last year and I have found it to easy to apply and works well in the field. I have not experienced any edges lifting or panels warping as of yet.) 

4. Disposable foam roller and shallow paint pan. 

5. Brayer or acrylic roller.

6. Sharp carpet knife. 

All told, if I disregard the time it takes to go to the hardware store to get the hardboard the shop time ran about one hour.


The Process: 

1. Cut the hardboard to desired panel size. Wipe or blow any dust off the surface you will apply to the adhesive on, meaning the hardboard and linen. Use a smooth side of the hardboard for the adhesive.

2. Cut your linen 1/2 inch over sized because it will shrink immediately after applying the water-based adhesive (Canvas shrinks will as well but not as much.). 

3. Use a disposable surface under the masonite and the linen when rolling on the adhesive because glue will drip and overrun the edges. I keep scraps of foam core around for this reason. Roll the contact cement on to both the board and the linen and let dry to the touch (about 30 minutes). Read the can for more detailed instruction.

The linen sheets will curl aggressively as the adhesive dries so keep a close eye on them. Once the curling begins gently flip the sheets over to prevent them from rolling up entirely. (If you don't do this they will roll up like papyrus.) Don't press the linen into to the surface, just let the corners raise the  sheet and this will keep anything from bonding.

4. Once the board and linen is dry to the touch, flip the linen back over (meaning, the primed-side should now be down) and carefully position the top corners of the hardboard panel inside the top and sides of the linen sheet. The corners will grab each other. Confirm there will be excess fabric beyond the edges before laying the board down on the linen. Take care with your alignment because you will not get a second chance to reposition things. 

5. Gently press the two pieces together and flip the combo over again. Use a roller on the primed side of to securely bond both the fabric and board together. Push the brayer from the center to the edges so any stretching of the linen will be uniform. 

6. Stack your panels in a neat pile and place a weight on it (That is what the Utrecht bucket of gesso in the photo was used for... Again, I was using pre-primed linen here.) 

7. After a couple of hours, flip the panels face down and use firm pressure to trim the excess fabric off the edges of the panel with a sharp carpet knife or x-acto blade. You can use the edge of the panel as a cutting guide, but please, keep an eye on your fingers. I've seen folks cut themselves pretty badly because they weren't paying enough attention and their knife slipped or jumped the edge. Do NOT cut in a direction that takes the knife across your body. Keep the direction of your cuts towards the outside of your body. If you were once a Boy Scout then you know what I mean.

8. Flip the panels over one last time and rub off any contact cement that may have gotten onto the front of your painting panel with your finger, and VOILA, you are done!

While this will be cheaper than purchasing quality commercial plein air panels making them yourself requires time and effort and you should remember that the time you aren't actually painting is worth something too. Personally I'd rather spend my time pushing paint around than making panels so I prefer buy my panels unless I am caught short as I was this weekend. And this really isn't a kitchen tabletop project unless you happen to live alone and don't mind messing up the table. Making your own panels becomes a convenience only if you make do a large batch at a time or you prefer to paint on a surface you can't get elsewhere. If I had to guess, the 9 x 12s you see here cost me about $2 to $2.50 each, but that is a rough estimate.

If you prefer using lightweight Gatorboard™ as your substrate the adhesive should work on it as well.

Of course, if you don't want to make your own high quality plein air panels you can find some here:






I am off to the low desert next!... Follow me on my Facebook page if you wish...


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Would you like to improve your outdoor painting skills in Italy this next September? If so, click here to learn about my annual Plein air Tuscany! workshop. It is a fantastic experience and garners rave reviews! 

If you want even more info send me an email asking for a FAQ Sheet. It will detail where we will stay, what we will do, what we will learn, and of course, what it will cost. But wow, the US dollar is strong against the Euro right now so there may never be a better year to go than in 2015. Registration is open and folks ARE signing up!... (Seven spots left!)