Thursday, May 28, 2009

OPA - Kevin MacPherson Demo

Top billing at the OPA convention this year was the juror of awards, Kevin MacPherson.

This linen on foam core panel - with grid and image - was on the easel when I walked in. Audience members' camera were snapping away and the buzz in the rooom was all about the grid pattern on this panel. Much to our amusement, the first thing Kevin told us was that this was not the painting he was going to do. The drawing was from an abandoned painting, which he'd simply cut down and recylced for this demo.
MacP pulled out all the plein air studies he'd done on a painting trip for inspiration (as he does in his studio) and to remind him of what it was like at this location. The paintings were very loose, between 9x12" and 12 x 16"'s. Some were barely more than broad color notes. He passed the paintings through the audience, a treat to see these up close and personal, and hold them in your hands.

Here is Kevin with the bones of the painting to come, the shapes. He explained that once he had his shapes, interlocking like a puzzle, he next put in the darkest darks. "Then," he said, "it was just a matter of filling in the shapes with color."
Here he is filling in the blanks!
He stressed the importance of keeping the shadow and the light values separated: black in light is lighter than white in shadow." He fills in those blanks working in the shadow areas only and leaving the light areas untouched for now. He worked to build the nuances of color shifts within the shadows, but was not concerned with detail.

Once he was satisfied with the shadow areas, he scraped his palette in prepartion for the light areas.
You can see his plein air reference painting to he left of the demo painting. It is covered with a plastic sleeve and he places dabs of paint he's mixed to test his colors and values before placing them on the painting. Even then, he remixes if the color doesn't seem right for the painting.

He used a limited palette of three colors plus Gamblin's Portland greys in light, medium and dark and Titanium White. He also mixed greys, saying not to use just a grey, but to make it a blue grey, red grey, or yellow grey.

This is the palette at the end of the painting the shadow masses. he used only one brush, and had a box of Kleenex to wiping his brush.

Here's the painting after he "filled in the blanks" of the light massess. He was experimenting in the sky with filling it in with only a grey. He would later go back over that grey with other colors. The clouds at this point are still bare canvas.

Last, is the final painting. Wanda, his wife had the frame all ready to go. And the crowd gave a thunderous applause for a great demo.

You can see that he worked back into that sky with more than one color.
Three hours of fun. He really does give a relaxed and entertaining demo.

Hope you enjoyed this. If you would like me to blog more artists demos, please leave a comment. thanks for visiting.


Nancy said...

Yes, yes, yes, more more more. Yours too as I read you will demonstrate. This was so interesting and I thrill at his paintings.

Michelle said...

love this!

Anna R. said...

I was trying to explain this to a friend figuring out what to do with a painting. This was very helful, he is one of my heros.

Madeline said...

Thanks Anna very helpful!

Ruru said...

Really wonderful and helpful. Kevin is magical.