Thursday, September 22, 2011

Plein Air Workshop at Smith-Gilbert Garden

I recently attended a Plein Air workshop Pat Fiorello was teaching at Smith-Gilbert Garden.  The gardens cover 16 acres and include several separate plantings that are linked by woodland paths.  Placed around the garden are 30 contemporary sculptures.  At the center of the garden surrounded by the perennial beds is the historic Hiram Butler House which dates back to 1880.  The gardens were lovely and offered a wide variety of possible subjects to paint.

Pat began the workshop with a demonstration.  As she worked on her painting she walked us through the steps of selecting a subject, deciding what to include and what to leave out (both are important), working with changing light and shadows, using color and light to develop depth and interest.  She also discussed techniques and pigment combinations for different effects.  I enjoyed watching her paint as much as listening to her discussion of painting.  When she had the majority of the painting done she sent us out to find a spot and begin our own paintings.  The finished painting and other photos from the workshop can be seen on Pat's blog.

After a quick turn around the garden I decided to setup in among the roses.  I picked a spot where I could look through the roses at a distant piece of sculpture, which turned out to be an untitled metal piece by Edward Chrisman.  Pat came by after I had finished my initial sketch and gave me some great pointers on painting roses.  I spent the rest of the afternoon among the roses painting.  Even thought it was overcast, it turned out to be a wonderful day to be at the garden.

I had taken my newly built pochade box (described in a previous blog post), camera tripod and new light weight chair with me.  I was happy to find it was easy to setup and comfortable to paint either sitting or standing.  I found an old computer bag to carry the pochade box in which has additional pockets and space for extra pads of paper and a roll of paper towels.   The Camp Time Roll-a-Chair has a shoulder strap and the tripod has a handle.  So it was easy to carry all the items out to the garden.

Pat captured this photo of me while I was painting.  I had all the comforts of painting at home, with the added benefit of being in the middle of a wonderful rose garden.  What a great day!

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