Art, Landscape, Painters, Painting, Plein Air, Workshop

And now for something completely different …

It’s been a long time since my last post and, in fact a long time since I touched a paint brush. I’m having my studio space expanded now and therefore have no where to paint for a few weeks but I hope to start back painting on a regular basis very soon.

In August I attended a week long workshop on Orcas Island with Jordan Wolfson and a small band of other painters. This workshop was different from others I’ve participated in. Although it was billed as a plein aire painting workshop and we did indeed paint plein aire, we didn’t focus just on capturing form and color as it appears in life. We did start out, as most workshops I’ve done, trying our best to paint what we saw but, as the week progressed, Jordan introduced exercises that encouraged us to be more interpretive of the landscape.

I didn’t really do anything close to a finished piece but several starts of an hour or two.

Most of the paintings are 8″ x 10″ and all are oil on linen panels. Click on them for a larger view.


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On the third day of the workshop, we did an exercise in which we did a sort of wire frame of the scene.

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Next we did a sort of combination of the first two days work by painting from observation but introducing lines and marks that searched out how the scene was constructed. I found myself thinking about painting, not just the objects in front of me but the air between me and them as well.

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On the last day, Jordan encouraged us to be really expressive and experiment with any kind of mark making we could think of.

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I’ve admired Jordan’s work for a long time and I was interested in working with him because of his ability to work across a spectrum of realistic to fairly abstract imagery without leaving representation completely. I’ve been trying to move myself in that direction and I enjoyed spending a week with Jordan and other serious painters who were also interested in exploring similar ideas.

This work is very different from what I’ve done in recent years and I enjoyed stepping beyond my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to getting my studio in order and seeing where this leads me.

For more pictures of the workshop and information about Jordan, check out Jordan Wolfson Workshops on Facebook.

8 thoughts on “And now for something completely different …”

  1. This is very impressive work. All of this looks like it would work well on a larger scale. I’m impressed by how clean you manage to keep the colors without any sort of muddying effect in the application of paint. How do you proceed? Are you using flat brushes and palette knife? How many colors do you use when painting? Is it a limited palette of about 6 colors?
    I greatly enjoy looking at your work. I am particularly enamored of your approach to depicting the Detroit area in a way that is universal in feeling and never provincial. I believe you have a gold mine of subject matter.

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  2. Hi Jim, I appreciate the kind words.

    Howard, thanks for your comment. I do have a phobia of muddy color and I believe it did inhibit what I was willing to do in these exercises. I mostly use #6 or #8 brushes and a couple of palette knives but on the last 2 pieces I used everything I could think of, including some plants that were lying around. My color palette is usually laid out with a warm and cool of each primary.

    I’m not sure how you got the impression I was painting in Detroit. All of my urban landscapes were painted here in Portland Oregon. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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  3. Bill to expand upon your teachings will you have to look at things differently or will you have to modify the
    techniques/tools you use to represent it?

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  4. Bill, these are wonderful. I looked at Jordan’s work a lot today, and his approach seems like a fantastic fit for you. You were already leaning in that direction, so this is a terrific push to take it even further. He’s a fabulous painter, and obviously a good teacher too. I love the results you’re getting, really stretching yourself. Keep it going.

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  5. Dan, I think a bit of both. Hopefully I’ll look more deeply at my subject and then allow myself to step away from it and “riff” on it and make a painting rather than paint a scene, if that makes sense. I can imagine that this will open possibilities for using materials differently and perhaps introducing different materials and techniques.

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  6. Hi Kathy. I thought of you during the workshop. Jordan is a friend of Stuart Schils. It was really fun to spend a week with University trained painters. It’s been a long time since I spent time with a group like that.

    Congratulations on your residency. I’ve been meaning to write you and will soon.

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  7. Hi Bill, beautiful work here–I enjoy what you wrote about why you liked this teacher…(he uses “realistic to fairly abstract imagery without leaving representation completely”). That does fit your work nicely! Sorry to have missed you at the Industry and Art show yesterday. (….and I want to find out why we never heard anything about it, you should have definitely been involved.)

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