The weather has become a little iffy here, but an overcast morning turned out to be ideal for our first plein air of the workshop. We drove about 10 miles out of Corciano to a dilapidated farmhouse where Zhaoming did a demo for two hours or so - totally fabulous of course. These are some of the notes I took, a bit jumbled I'm afraid but one of the first things you discover on a proper plein air trip is how organised you have to be, you need about ten pairs of hands and a pretty decent set of muscles too. I was a bit all over the place. Maybe this is why Jason feeds us so well, you need to build up your strength. Many of us hadn't done plein air before so Zhaoming pretty much had to start from scratch. Here are the notes:-
Landscape, think about the mood.
Same three value pattern as for the figure.
Paint rooftops like heads, the underneath matters less.
Usually look for a pattern of three planes, foreground, mid and background with the mid ground being the important area. In our demo he chose the view based on the hills as the background, farmhouse the mid and hills as the foreground.
On a dull day the shadows may be warmer so he opted to use a burnt umber under painting. On a sunny day he would have chosen ultramarine blue.
Sketch in the loose shapes, he simplified the shape of the background hills.
Block in colours, cooler and less saturation for background. Remember the atmosphere (perspective) and distance all over.
When doing the sky make one side a different colour than the other. The same for top and bottom.
Big shape, big value.
Less drawing, more composition.
The brush stroke is important to describe the object, differentiate. The gesture of nature.
Paint the dark shapes first with no lights (tree) add the lights after the same principles of hard and soft edges apply, one side hard, the other soft. Up, down, diagonals, look for the contrast and variation. Keep spaces uneven.
Zhaoming talks about Masses - the big shapes, Lines - his marks and flourishes and also the line of the composition I think. Points - the small details. I will have to go over this again with him for further clarification. He says it's like music.
Some more of my observations. Zhaoming rarely uses a palette knife but he does use a fan brush frequently and not just to blend. He also uses the bottom end of a pencil or the end of a brush to make marks, scraping back the paint for fine marking and texture. He uses Utrecht paint. He has just started using wedge brushes and seems to be getting on with them. He likes brushes with flat and fine edges which he can twist back and forth.
Oh and Jason who also teaches art shared a few tips for buildings on the ride home. When painting windows don't do them too dark even if they are. The same with cracks and textures on walls, go in with a lighter tone.
We packed up for the day at 3.00 pm, whizzed back to the villas to wash our brushes and grab our things and then set off for yhe two day trip to Florence and Siena. We caught the 17.17 train and an hour and a half later after a very scenic journey through the Umbrian and Tuscan countryside arrived to the very buzzy and happening city. Zhaoming wanted to take us for a traditional Chinese meal so the 12 of us enjoyed a pretty unusual but apt mix of cultures. We had a great night and are looking forward to the Uffuzi and Accademia museums and many of the other delights of Florence. Art and shopping, what could be better?