Kevin Macpherson: Workshop Workout

Workshops are a great time for exploration. They?re a time for developing your inner self and stretching your horizons, for revisiting the fundamentals of art while expressing your personal style and a time for intense learning and taking risks. Growth will come if you?re not afraid to fail. With this in mind, I often present my workshop students with a set of specific challenges to work on. Selecting specific challenges forces you to pursue an idea and paint with purpose. This, in turn, helps you select, direct and edit your subject.

Le Vieux Port, Marseille (oil, 20×30)

Start by creating a painting that focuses on strong foundation skills. Good representational art depends on good academic skills?accurate drawing, colors, values and edges. First and foremost of these is drawing?getting the proportions down correctly with a strong compositional arrangement. Once that?s achieved, you can turn your attention to creating harmonious color and making color choices that evoke the proper mood. Also check to make sure you have proper values that depict a realistic representation of light. Finally, make sure that the relationship of the edges helps direct the eye and merge all of the elements into one pictorial statement.

Rayons de Soleil, Sure La Seine (oil, 20×30)

A painting that?s academically correct but devoid of passion is only a technical exercise?it isn?t art. So in this challenge, don?t worry about the academics. Instead, enlist your emotional response to a scene. Don?t worry about perfection, but make sure the viewer can feel your passion for the scene. What are you trying to convey to the viewer? Ultimately, the ability to juggle the passionate and the academic will meld into pictorial statements that are at once correct and alive with feeling.

If It Is Wednesday, It Must Be Arles (oil, 16×20)

A toned canvas helps set the mood of a painting. And, if used correctly, it can expedite the painting process. Any color will work for this underpainting. But whichever color you choose, look at your scene and find a color that matches it. Then key your work to this color. You?ll find that the color of your ground will influence all of the colors that follow, which in turn helps create tonal harmony.

Monona Rossol is the founder and president of Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, a not-for-profit corporation in New York City.

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