Monday, December 8, 2014


This past weekend, I was privileged to take a workshop with a well-known and amazing Canadian artist, Katherine Stone. If you do not know who she is, you really need to check out her website, and read her blog.

On Saturday, and again on Sunday, I travelled down Vancouver Island (412 kms. total over the 2 days) to where Katherine and her husband, Daniel Gluck (also an incredible artist) live in an old, beautiful farm house. The setting is just idyllic - large, old trees, a healthy and active pond, a creek running between their property and the neighbours, and an old, white, 2 storey farmhouse. Kate and her husband have just finished an addition onto the house which is their studio and teaching is large, bright, lots of windows for natural light, and perfect for teaching. It actually looks like it was always part of the farmhouse.

The class Kate taught was an oil painting for beginners class. You might wonder why I would take a beginner's class when I have been working in oil for about 3 years. Well, the thing is, most of my experience with oil has been self-taught.  Kate is a classically trained artist who has been painting since she was 13 years old. She is incredibly gifted, and as I have found out, she is also a VERY good teacher! She has lots of foundational things to teach me, as well as techniques and information about materials. I am sure I have formed many "bad" habits and coping methods, and Kate can show me how to correct those. As well, it is just plain FUN to learn - and in a class of 3 students, the opportunities for individual attention are tremendous. 

This weekend, we learned about open grisaille. My daughter uses this method to begin most of her oil paintings, but I had never learned to work with this technique. The first day, we worked on a sphere, painting with Raw Umber, which has a greenish tone to it. It was astonishing how long it took to make that  ball look round by using paint and mineral spirits, putting on and wiping off until the tonal values were correct! Here you can see the black and white photo of the sphere, and the completed grisaille I did.

The second day we moved on to learning from one of the old masters - Rembrandt. We chose one of his self portraits, then did the open grisaille of the portrait. This time, we worked in a warm tone - Burnt Umber. You cannot imagine how much respect you gain for these old master artists when you are working to replicate their paintings in order to learn from them. By the time my painting got to this point, the paint had set up too much for me to do any more Rembrandt has a bit more of an afro than I wanted. :-) But, the half tones which were so difficult to achieve were not too bad, and overall I was pleased with the results. This is the result of 7 hours of painting... click on the photo to get up close to see the half tones in the shadow areas...

Next weekend I will be making the same trip on Saturday and Sunday to learn more. I am so grateful to have a world-class artist who lives "close by", willing to teach here in Canada. Both Kate and Dan are in high demand for teaching workshops in the U.S.; both have won numerous awards, yet both are humble and kind people who love what they do, and share what they know so gracefully...check Kate out on her website, her blog, and on FaceBook.

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