painting workshops

Painting Nocturnes

I'll be teaching a workshop next weekend, Oct. 12-13, 2013, focusing on painting nocturnes. If you're interested in signing up for this unique experience, you can find more info here.

Moonwashed Desert, 21" x 24", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Moonwashed Desert, 21" x 24", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Ever since I began painting at night it's been a deep interest for me. It's not something that a lot of artists have attempted, and can be endlessly rewarding. Painting a moon rising over the horizon is great, but standing outdoors in the light of the full moon is magical, and it's not just black and white: the value range is reduced, but there is much more color than most would think. Try it sometime: just stand in the moonlight, and look at the color of say, the sidewalk versus the grass. Look at the trees and the sky. I'll bet you will start to see subtle differences that manifest themselves in color.

Nocturnes provide great situations to work with mood and quiet emotion, and the softness of shapes is infinitely fascinating: while individual shapes are distinguishable, it's hard to say where one thing stops and another begins. Therein lies the challenge of painting what you see, not what you know.

Painting at night is very similar to painting during the day as far as the approach to painting it and the materials required, with one crucial exception - a light. You need a source that provides enough balanced light to see what you're doing without being so bright that you can't see the landscape you're painting. I've come up with a solution that allows me to get very subtle color on location and is not a big surprise when I bring it indoors to a normally lighted room. Lighting and color will be discussed along with other issues one encounters at night in greater detail during the workshop.

Sign up here.

Master Workshops: Pasadena, Carmel and More

Why should an artist paint on location? How do I know what to paint? How do I create personal work that stands out?

I hope you'll join me for a few workshops that I'll be teaching this October in the Pasadena area, and we'll work on answering those questions. I'm especially looking forward to the Seeing at Night class, as we'll be focused on how to paint on location at night. I think this will be unique, as not many artists work on location to paint nocturnes - I'll show my approach that allows you to see REAL subtlety and color, not invented color.

The Water That Is Entirely Jewels 11" x 14", © Eric Merrell

The Water That Is Entirely Jewels 11" x 14", © Eric Merrell

LANDSCAPE PAINTING, October 4-6, 2013 (3 days)

SEEING AT NIGHT, October 12-13, 2013 (2 days)

I've also partnered with Carmel Visual Arts to do a 3-day workshop in Carmel:

PLEIN AIR ALONG THE SEA, November 9-11, 2013 (3 days) Register here

And if you've been following my California desert workshops, I've just scheduled the 3rd Annual workshops for both Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree. There aren't many workshops taught in either place, and my experience painting on location in the desert will help to bring the classes to great locations and have a great experience.

3RD ANNUAL ANZA-BORREGO LANDSCAPE PAINTING WORKSHOP, March 14-16, 2014 (3 days)

3RD ANNUAL JOSHUA TREE LANDSCAPE PAINTING WORKSHOP, April 11-13, 2014 (3 days)

Painting Workshop in the Anza-Borrego Desert

I've just returned from a week of painting and teaching in California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This was the second 3-day workshop I've taught there, and was excited to return. I love this part of the desert, and this trip afforded me a little more time to explore and paint a few new locations. I also painted a few more nocturnes on location, something that has to be experienced. Even with less than a quarter moon, color temperatures and shapes are apparent, and there is also starlight to see by. NOTE: If you missed this trip, I'll be teaching another 3-day workshop in Joshua Tree next month, April 19-21, 2013.

Each day began with the importance of using your sketchbook - finding what your piece will be about, drawing thumbnail sketches and writing about them. I'm not interested in copying the landscape, but rather finding what it is that excites me about the location. I see painting as a way to dig a little deeper, to try a little harder.

I began with a demo in the morning and did another after lunch. I want everyone in the workshop to come away with a structure or process that they can use to interpret the landscape when they're working on their own. We talked about color, value, shapes, materials, umbrellas, and many other items of concern to artists working outdoors.

We started early each morning while it was still cool, painting until 1 pm or so, and then took a 2-hour lunch and siesta. After the rest, we'd get back out on location for the afternoon. For most folks who haven't painted on location before, one thing they don't realize is how physically and mentally demanding it is. This trip also sprouted a new tradition of starting the afternoon session with ice cream. At the end of a full day of painting, we'd gather for a good dinner at a local restaurant to relax and discuss painting.

I selected three different locations around the park that provided three different types of landscape, with a variety of underbrush, cacti, and change in elevation.

On the last day we created a little shade and held a critique to talk about the work everyone had produced. I'm always glad when I see such a sharp improvement over a short period of time, and there was a notable jump in seeing and painting color in each student's work over the three days. Though we were pretty tired when we departed at the end of the workshop, I think everyone seemed pleased with their efforts and had a sketchbook full of new ideas to put into practice in their own future work.

If you're interested in learning to see and paint color on location, I'll be teaching another 3-day workshop in Joshua Tree next month, April 19-21, 2013. Sign up here: http://ericmerrell.com/workshops.html

Still Life Painting Workshop (FAC)

STILL LIFE PAINTING WORKSHOP(in conjunction with The Fine Art Collaborative) I'm looking forward to this great collaboration of artists and instructors coming this summer. Organized by The Fine Art Collective, numerous workshops and lectures will be held over three days by many familiar names, including these folks: John Asaro, Glenn Dean, Frank Gardner, Logan Hagege, Ignat Ignatov, Stacy Kamin, Dan McCaw, Peggi Kroll Roberts, Ray Roberts and myself.

DATES: Saturday, June 2, 2012, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. LOCATION: Randy Higbee Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA COST: $130 INFO: A one day outdoor still life painting workshop in Costa Mesa, including instructor demo and student painting time. TO REGISTER: Visit www.ericmerrell.com or www.thefac2012.com for more information

The New Year @ LAAFA

The winter semester at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, California starts next month, and the Landscape Painting Class will be in full swing again beginning Saturday, January 16th, 2010. The class runs for eight consecutive Saturdays, and class size is kept small so students will receive plenty of individual instruction. LAAFA is offering an Early Bird Special if you sign up before January 4, 2010.

In these classes you will learn how to paint what you see, not what you think you see. Learn how to interpret in terms of paint, using light and color to create form. Color relationships, design/composition, simplifying, and the benefits of painting on location will be discussed, as well as how to design and build a painting that carries an emotional impact. Make an investment in your art – gain confidence and knowledge that will inspire all areas of your creativity.

At the Edge (The San Gabriels), 16" x 16", Oil on panel, Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

As artists, we need to be able to interpret what we see and understand what we paint. Ample time is given to demos by the instructor as well as individual painting time. All experience levels are welcome. Limited space is available – call 818/708-9232 or visit www.laafa.org to register your space today!

For more information, please visit www.ericmerrell.com and click on Workshops.