Monday, January 24, 2011

John Salminen Demo and Monday Drawing Class

John Salminen demo

The start of another pastel still life

Yesterday I attended John Salminen's demo for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. Some lucky artists are attending his workshop this week. Our demo's are open to the public at no charge, so anyone in the area can learn from the masters we engage for workshops.

John has wonderful teaching skills and imparted a lot of wisdom during the 2.5 hour demo. John is known for his magnificent urban landscapes, which you can check out here. He has received many awards, including a recent first place in the international competition in Shanghai. Those large paintings take 40 to 60 hours each, so obviously he did not have time to do an urban landscape. John created a scene inspired by photos he took in the Gloucester, MA, harbor. I recalled it fondly from my stay in September. He basically chose some great shapes and totally rearranged them into a strong design.

Like some of the most respected watercolor painters of our time, he has been greatly infuenced by Ed Whitney through classes taught by Cheng-Khee Chee in his home town of Duluth, Minnesota. He begins his paintings by creating a good white shape, defined as irregular, unpredictable and a bit oblique. The white shape covers about 1/3 of the surface and goes off the page at least three times. This shape will get modified in places with some color as he progresses. He emphasized the importance of good values. He surrounds his shape with a mid-tone value wash. Next he adds the very darkest darks, which he says will look garish until they get surrounded by shapes that step down gradually to the mid-tone value. In other words, using the 9 value system, put value 8 next to 9, value 7 next to 8, etc., until you are close to the mid-tone value.

At a certain point John turns his painting upside down to see if it is working as an abstract . Then he begins what he calls his integration phase, where he starts modifying edges and areas of dark and light shapes. He showed us several handy techniques as he worked to achieve a certain lighting effect:

1) Use a mouth atomizer to add value and texture - he recommends the Pat Dews atomizer
2) Use Paynes Grey to put some of the painting in shadow
3) Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to lift color (there are no chemicals in the ORIGINAL eraser)
4) Use masking tape to create a stencil to allow you to remove color; you can even cut out shapes in the masking tape using a Snap Cutter from the hardware store to create a stencil.

Don't overdo any of your special techniques.

Then John used a #4 brush to add calligraphy. Finally, to enhance his focal point, he added a tiny figure on the deck of the largest boat. His advice includes starting with a blob for the torso, paint a head down into the figure, not on a neck, and make the legs disproportionately long.

John prefers Stephen Quiller paints, made by Richeson to the very expensive Blockx formula at a more reasonable price. He uses Arches 140 pound watercolor paper. Though he used larger brushes for this demo, his urban landscapes are done mostly with a #4 brush.

This morning I attended my drawing class. You can see I didn't get as much done as I did last week. There is no background yet and no part of the painting is finished. Also, I cropped the photo a bit as the paper got wrinkled on the way home.


Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, Thank you for sharing information about the John Salminen demo. Must have been fascinating. I like his paintings.
AND I like your pastel. It's nicely drawn and has a warm, welcoming feel!

AutumnLeaves said...

What a fabulous opportunity! Sounds like you had a fabulous time, Mary. Wish I could see your painting but for some reason it isn't loading this a.m. I'm sure it is smashing though!

AutumnLeaves said...

Oops! I take it back. It did load and it is really looking awesome. Is that basket terra cotta? What a cool piece! The fruit look wonderful too.

Christiane Kingsley said...

Thank you so much, Mary, for this most informative post on John Salminen's demo - I really admire his urban landscapes!
Your pastel still life is looking super!

Kathy said...

John's a REAL American Master!! You're very fortunate to learn from him. I own his instructional video on abstraction and truly value it. Thank you for sharing so many of your classroom experiences with us!

hw (hallie) farber said...

Hi Mary. I looked at John Salminen's site yesterday--great work. I got caught up and forgot to leave a comment. It's so nice of you to pass along the techniques.

I always like your pastels--great basket.

Mary Paquet said...

Peggy, I so enjoyed the demo. I frequently read about John in my art magazines, so this was a real treat.

Sherry, the basket is terra cotta. I must admit, some of the pastel fell off the paper in transport.

Christiane, John's urban landscapes are awesom.

Kathy, I love to share the opportunities I have to see great masters at work.

Hallie, thanks for circling back.

Tim Robinson said...

Nice lighting treatment.