Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Charles Reid at Stow - Day Two

On Tuesday morning, the second day, the weather turned out to be the best of the week. The original plan had been that Tuesday morning would be free time with the workshop commencing at The reason was that it was thought the hall would not be available that morning. In the event this wasn't so, and caused some slight confusion about what exactly the programme would be on the first two days. This was also affected by the variable weather forecast with deterioration expected from mid-week. Charles decided to paint outside and we headed for the main square, specifically a small area of greenery on one side of the square. When we arrived it was thought we might have problems with visitors, as it was a popular seating area. One of the students was staying at the Stow Manor Hotel opposite so elected to ask the hotel if we could paint in the grounds. This was agreed although we were restricted to a particular area at the far side that wasn't ideal.

Initially Charles wandered around the area peering this way and that way trying to find a vista to paint. Eventually he gave up and I heard him mutter he was having trouble finding inspiration. I wasn't involved in the discussions, involving mainly Jane and another student Chris. Chris volunteered  to paint  in the middle of the lawn facing Charles and thus became the subject with the rest of the painting from Charles interpretation of the surroundings. As with arbitrary colour - colours that aren't actually there -  he made up the rest of the composition.

This was the setup with Chris in the middle and several students clustered around close by. The rest were spread around and I was behind and to the left.

This was my position. Charles can just be seen at the top of the easel under his large blue umbrella.

The two photographs above feature Charles painting with the second the finished one. As I've mentioned before he doesn't finish in a conventional way just `stops' when he feels he is adding bits for the sake of it.

This was mine. I started with the figure, made a not too detailed pencil drawing, then painted working outwards.

My finished painting (the photo affected by shadows). I added the tree as an after thought and at the Wednesday critique Charles said this was a mistake. I thought it a little stark otherwise.

Overall this was a successful session. It was very hot and drove the majority to paint in the Hall in the afternoon. While you could stand and watch Charles paint it wasn't a demonstration, with most opting to paint. You could naturally ask questions and he is always ready to answer. I alternated between painting and going over and seeing what he was doing. As I've mentioned before Charles takes regular breaks, usually every twenty minutes or so. He will wander off and mostly smoke his pipe, before recommencing after 5 -10 minutes.

In the afternoon nearly all returned to the Hall and painted using the black and white photographs provided. There were several different ones and we had previously been asked to list those we liked after which photocopies were made. The photos were quite old, I would think the early part of the 1900s, and I thought I heard Whitby mentioned. The subjects were fishing folk.

Examples of the source material. I opted for the man on the extreme right, while the left hand photo is of the man Charles demonstrated. Several of the students opted to copy him.

 My initial drawing, top half of the body.

A3 Moldau 280gsm Not

I thought the drawing was okay but although the painting started well I lost my way halfway through and did not like the final result. Apart from anything else the colours were  too dull and neutral. I should have introduced brighter arbitrary colour rather than mistakenly be led astray by the black and white  of the photo. This is something Charles repeats, that at some point in a painting you arrive at a turning point where it either goes on to succeed or takes a wrong turn. I think I should also have made the figure about a third larger but feel I made the body too wide relative to the head and shoulders.  During this session Charles did not paint, wandering around and helping those who asked for assistance while making the odd comment about individual paintings.

This was the first day I painted and I was disappointed that I hadn't made a better fist of it.


John Softly said...

As usual Peter very informative posts which are a joy to read.
It would seem that CR has a preference for fisher folk when it comes to mono references. I seem to remember that he did a demonstration from a mono photograph of a fisherman in one of the past workshops you attended.

Ray Maclachlan said...

You did very well Peter considering the pressure. I must say I prefer to just watch Charles paint and see the magic enfold. Your coverage of the workshop is excellent.

Peter Ward said...

Hi John
Charles has a house or cottage in Nova Scotia and also a boat in which he goes fishing. He likes these old photos and so do I.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Ray. I agree. watching him is the key but lots of students either try and paint along with him or paint separately. I think they can miss things by doing this. Each to his own though.

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

I think you did very well... thanks for sharing your experiences and the photos...

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Elaine. Appreciated.

Steve said...

Peter, very interesting as always.
One query, in the finished painting of Chris and the tree, did Charles scratch out to get some highlight on the tree, or is it gouache? I can't say i have heard of him using either method before.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Steve and welcome. As said in the text I didn't study Charles in detail here but he does occasionally use gouache, certainly at Crantock and a little here on the first painting but I can't say if he did this on the painting of Chris. He is pragmatic and will vary his approach if necessary.