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May 4, 2015

2015 Essential Plein Air Techniques Workshop: The PDX Edition



(above: "Steelman Lake", on Sauvie Island, 20 minutes from downtown Portland)

When: August, 14th - 16th, 2015
Where: In and around the greater Portland, Oregon area
Tuition: $350.00

Registration is now open!
Email thomas@thomaskitts.com to request a registration form.


I am pleased to announce yet another plein air workshop this summer, only this time in my very own backyard... 

It is always nice to travel to exotic places and paint, but sometimes it is even nicer to paint an area you know intimately. Of course, this August, folks from out of town are welcome to come join the locals too – and if any of you do we'll make you a (temporary) honorary Oregonian during your stay. (ha!) So don't feel shy about coming if you want to experience an awesome long-weekend of painting, and an opportunity to see what Portlandia is all about. Just let me know and we will be happy to issue you a visa. Heck, we will even put a bird on it... (ha, again!)



About this workshop: This class is for anyone who is interested in learning to paint en plein air using an alla prima oil painting technique. It is specifically designed for the novice-to-intermediate artist. Some experience with painting will be helpful but is not required. If you have experience using another media your skills should transfer to this class.
Your instruction will focus on how to paint en plein air under natural light, in the field. By the end of this week you will understand how to resolve many of the issues that confront the outdoor painter. Thomas’ instructional style is both fun and informative and he is respectful of everyone's level. Each day he will present a series of brief talks, demos and plenty of one-on-one instruction tailored to your personal ability. This will be a fun and enjoyable experience that will carry you forward many years.

During this workshop you will also learn additional tips and tricks that help in the studio.


Here are a few of the topics we will cover during out three days together:

1. How to recognize and mix naturalistic color. Then if desired, how to expressively accentuate it...

2. How to use the Hue/Value/Chroma system to mix you color rapidly...

3. How to simplify and separate the values you see into dynamic groups of light and shadow...

4. How to become faster and more decisive...

5. How to become selective about detail...

6. How to use lost and found edges to lead the eye...

7. How to develop your own individual brushwork...

8. How to start (and yes, end!) a painting...

9. How to use of both thin and thick paint to your advantage...

10. How to apply impasto brushwork...

And much, much, more!…


We will also discuss concerns often overlooked by even the most experienced pros
— such as how to paint in an archival manner, basic material science, and what everyone should know about health and safety.

Once you register you will receive a materials and recommended reading list. You may be surprised at how little equipment is required, and what you can do with it!



To learn more about my previous Portland plein air workshops – or to read a few testimonials from previous students, visit: http://tinyurl.com/PDXpleinair and scroll to the bottom.



So join me this August to work on your plein air skills! Enjoy yourself and make new painting friends, or meet up with some old ones. You can expect this workshop to boost your confidence and ability to paint anywhere, anytime – indoors or out

For more information or to register, email me at pleinairPDX@thomaskitts.com



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!)