By Joe Mac Kechnie, NW Artist and PSGNA Signature Member
Recently, I parted with some of my hard earned money and attended a Ned Mueller Plein Air workshop. It was one of the best workshops I have attended in a long time! Ned had 15 artists in tow, taking us to Fall City (day 1), Roselyn (day 2) and Gold Creek near Snoqualmie Pass (day 3). Because of Ned’s popularity, excellent oil painting skills and teaching abilities, several workshop students came from as far away as Tucson AZ, southern California and distant parts of the NW/Puget sound area. The weather was fabulous with an occasional thunderstorm thrown in. Nothing better than the Pacific NW landscape when the sun is shining.
The central theme taught by Ned over the 3-days focused on developing our ability to see
simple shapes and then paint those shapes without getting hung up on the details. Once we had made our drawings using shapes, we then painted those shapes using observed values and color. The goal wasn’t one of needing to finish a painting each day; it was one of simplifying what we observed and then painting with correct values and color. That took a lot of pressure off trying to complete a finished masterpiece by the end of each day. It made it easier to observe a complex scene and reduce it to its most basic shapes, values and colors.
In the photographs that accompany this article, the artists attending this workshop all found that shapes, when simplified, made it easier to see and paint correct values and colors. When you stepped away from you painting and observed it from a short distance, it was easier to see if the composition was right (or wrong) and to see if the patches of dark, light and color shapes made a cohesive and harmonious work of art. It really worked! Try it sometime.