In January 2017, I took a 3 day intensive workshop at the Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier in San Francisco, with master artist Steven Assael.
You can see in the photos how Steven pins his palette vertically next to his painting, and often uses the background to draw in colour harmonies back to the face.
He uses a zillion brushes, and employs a seemingly chaotic style to establish colour temperatures, values and placement. Every mark is actually very carefully considered. He works with speed, but applies multiple layers, built up. He uses fan brushes to deposit huge slashes of paint - often dabbing into three colours at once to apply a single stroke. It was an incredible experience, to watch a master at work. I'm still working hard to process what I've seen, and will be working through my extensive notes and memories to explore how this technique can inform my own style.
Steven's advice to draw all the time, and work with big brushes brought me back to my student days with Peter Prendergast. This almost feels like a full circle, an opportunity to strip down what I know, and relearn how to work with my instincts.
This time my instincts will be informed by knowledge, though. The study of painting with instructors, books and videos for the past 9 years has become increasingly technical and thorough. I feel like I'm finally starting to learn the technical skills I missed out on in my art education when I was young. I never studied colour theory before. Or learned how to hold a brush properly, or mix paint. I'd never heard of color temperature, or values. Or edges.
Now I teach all of these things. However, I have realized that my tolerance for intuitive, open brushwork is not so good. Watching Steven paint like he was conducting an orchestra shook my sense of what brushwork should look like. This is an opening for a new phase for me. Like all new beginnings, this one was a bit frustrating and painful, but will, hopefully, be the beginning of something different and beautiful.