Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lessons Learned from Demonstrations

One reason that I love plein air painting and doing demonstrations for classes or public events is that it forces me to work quickly.  I usually have 1-2 hours for this type of work versus when I'm in the studio there is really no time limit and I feel I have plenty of time.

The challenge of demos is the nerve-wracking feeling that #1 people are watching! Yikes.  #2 I have to explain what I'm doing while I'm doing it!  #3  I've got to get this to look like something in 60 minutes!  Trust me folks, it is scary no matter how many times I do it. At least with plein air you have the security of knowing if it doesn't go well, nobody has to see it. :)

However, the biggest lesson I have learned from doing this type of work is the benefit of FOCUS. I must prioritize! Going for the main role of each object and letting little details go.

I really have to decide quickly: What's the point of this painting? What value is that? Color? Saturation? Warmer, Cooler? What's the best shape? What kind of brushstroke? Harder or Softer Edge? Thick, thin? I have to push the painting to "finish" with every decision, every brushstroke. 

It is such an exciting problem solving game where you have to put something down and see how it works. Some turn out better than others, but in general there is a freshness, a spontaneity, a mystery, a movement  that I sometimes miss out on when I have 2 days in the studio.

So, if you have not tried setting a time limit for yourself - give it a shot! Grab a smaller panel, set a timer and paint with the most focus you can. I suggest 60 minutes as your brain will get tired.  Take a break...and do another!  There is a lot to be learned that I think we can apply to our more "finished" studio work.

Here are some examples of some 60-90 minute demos:



 
You will get faster and better the more you do. Give it a Go and let me know your thoughts. Best wishes.

10 comments:

  1. Great blog post Kelli, indeed it hit home, I'm not one for working in front of people...beautiful work!

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    1. Thank you Matt! Glad to hear it. Keep up the good work :)

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  2. Totally agree with all you have said. Speed is definitely one of the keys to improvement.

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  3. Hi Kelli, I really like your demos. I want to do more Plain air paintings this year. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Thank you for this excellent article, Kelli. I am definitely too shy to work regularly with people around me, but I agree with all you have said about learning to prioritize. The benefit of focus, yes, exactly.

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    1. You are welcome Chani! Happy painting to you.

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  5. I have only just recently began giving demonstrations and your article is very encouraging. Thank you

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    1. I wish you well! It's like everything else, it gets better with practice. Happy painting!

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