Part two of "The Painterly Portrait on Black" is here! I hope you enjoyed the first video. Now it's time to refine our portrait and develop the features as we bring this little African Princess to life. Enjoy!
This spring has provided me with fantastic opportunities to help artists develop their creative potential in both landscape and portrait workshops from Vermont to Virginia, as well as my home state of Connecticut. We've put together a short video from our last two landscape workshops to give you a glimpse into what a painterly landscape workshop can be like, and share some of the lovely work produced by our workshop participants.
Check out my list of live workshops below, and come join me at a workshop near you!
Happy spring! The tree blossoms have just decided to bloom this week here in Connecticut, so I must confess to being pretty excited. It's a perfect time to answer a lingering question that many of you have asked me in previous workshops:
"How do you paint trees?"
I thought the most effective way to answer your question would be to actually demonstrate my approach to painting trees in pastel for you. So here's a free video demonstration to help you tackle this exciting subject. As you do, remember this creative tip: suggestion is often more powerful than a literal description when it comes to handling foliage.
Enjoy the video!
If you found this video helpful, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel! And be sure to post a comment or reply to this email with any other questions you may have. I'll do my best to address them in future videos.
Check out my list of live workshops below, and come join me at a workshop near you!
If there was a secret weapon to creating better paintings, would you want to know what it is? What if I told you that great artists for generations have deployed just such a weapon to hit the mark and raise the bar in their work. I really believe it's possible that one critical tool can hold the power to single-handedly elevate your work from average to amazing.
Yet artists are often resistant to putting this tool to work for them. Why? I think one reason is because we think it will slow us down. We want to get to the real business of painting. You know the old adage, fools rush in. We confuse our initial burst of inspiration for preparation, and rush right past this critical stage of development. So, would you like to know what it is?
The secret weapon to better paintings is (drumroll please...) thumbnail sketching.
Thumbnail sketches are quickly executed, small problem-solving exercises that serve three specific goals in the planning of your next painting. These three goals are so important to pursue if you are to correctly deploy this powerful tool and gain maximum results.
1. SIMPLIFY THE VALUES.
Attempt to simplify the complex scene before you into large masses of dark, middle and light values, arranging them into a pattern of value shapes. If you haven't done this before, try creating a simple tonal key of three values with a pencil, to help you identify and limit your values to just three. This is challenging at first, but very rewarding once you get the hang of it.
2. CLARIFY THE SHAPES.
The natural world before us abounds with subtlety and complexity. Even the reference photographs that we use can have far more subtlety than we need for our paintings. Attempt to reduce the dizzying array of subtlety and detail in your subject down to just five to seven simple shapes, then organize your shapes in an interesting and appealing way to communicate your vision. Become the director of your scene, putting every member of the cast to work for you in achieving your vision. Remember, there should be only one star of the show, so choose your lead wisely!
3. DESIGN THE COMPOSITION.
Sketching small and quickly, experiment with your scene in both vertical and horizontal rectangles, square, and even panoramic to discover which approach will bring your concept to life most effectively. Push past your first impression of what is possible with the composition to explore new approaches. Don't ignore this critical stage, just because you are inspired and want to press forward into the "real thing!" No amount of detail will save a poorly designed painting, so try to get it right from the start. Your investment of even 10 minutes to develop a strong design will improve the resulting work tremendously.
There you have it, the three essential goals of thumbnail sketching. Putting them to work for you is indeed a secret weapon for better paintings.
Would you like to work with me in person alongside a group of motivated and encouraging artists that will spur you forward? Consider joining a workshop near you by reviewing the 2018 Workshop list below.
It would be my honor to help you develop your creative potential this year!
Would you like to host a workshop with Alain in your area? Please call 203.297.1399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Workshops are such an inspiring time of collaboration and growth for all involved. I just hosted a portrait workshop sponsored by our friends at UART Premium Sanded Paper. We thought you would enjoy a window into our creative experience, so we made a video to give you a taste of our time together! What a fun and talented group of artists came together to encourage one another in their creative development and learn with me.
Are you looking for some further inspiration yourself? Don't miss out on upcoming opportunities to grow! View our 2018 workshop schedule here.
P.S. Just listen to what Pam had to say about her workshop experience:
"This class was extremely well planned. There was optimum time for thorough and masterful demonstrations, and yet ample time for individual studio work. It was a perfect balance. Alain met each of us at our own level and made us feel comfortable. I learned so much in just a few days!" -Pam
I've already been dreaming of the upcoming Scotland Paint Away Workshop in July, 2018. I couldn't help myself, and created a quick pastel video of an inspiring Scottish loch to spread the wonder with you. I hope you enjoy this short demonstration painting. Register now to join me next July and create your own inspiring paintings in Scotland!
The summer is such a wonderful time to travel, paint outdoors and respond to the beauty of the world around us. I recently returned from two European art workshops in Croatia and Holland. It was such a joy to gain inspiration from our surroundings and encouragement from one another.
Watch this video to get a taste of our workshop experience in Croatia. It is a stunning country.
Many of us would love to paint more outdoors, but there are many challenges to getting out there. From setting aside the time to paint to overcoming our own insecurities about the process, these hindrances can cause us to be paralyzed instead of painting! Joining a group or workshop to paint outdoors is a wonderful way of ensuring that you will be developing your creative potential and achieving your goals.
Come paint outdoors with me on September 23, 2017 at the beautiful Hillstead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut! This one-day workshop is a perfect way to gain inspiration with trusted guidance. Listen to what one workshop student had to say about her experience,
"Great demonstrations with good explanations. Thank you for such great support in beautiful surroundings." -Stefani
Everyone loves a good story. Are your paintings communicating clearly and purposefully with a unique voice that speaks to your viewer? As visual artists, we are storytellers. We have a desire to express ourselves through our work. We do this by communicating with pictures to engage the viewer's imagination. This video will give you four tips to telling a compelling story through your art.
It's travel season here, with a number of art workshops in different areas throughout the country and abroad. Many of you have asked me what to bring and how to pack for a travel art workshop, especially when going abroad. In this video, I'll show you how to pack your carry-on luggage with all the pastel painting supplies needed for an efficient, portable painting setup.
Simply click here for the Travel Supply List with a lot of products that I recommend.
Would you like to join me in an upcoming workshop? Are there obstacles to your creative growth that you'd love to overcome in an inspiring and encouraging environment? There are some amazing opportunities just around the corner. We even have a couple of spots left next week in my Capturing Light: California workshop! Check out my workshop schedule, and find a workshop near you. I'd love to encourage your creative development.
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As promised, the followup video to last week's lesson, "5 Tips To Better Color" is here! I did my color exercise, and I hope you tried one as well. In this video, you'll see the results of my color study and the painting that emerged from this unique color approach. Enjoy!
So...did you take a crack at a color exercise? Please leave me a comment and let me know. I'd love to find out how you did, and whether you got a color breakthrough!
Want to learn more in an inspiring and encouraging environment? There are some amazing opportunities just around the corner to join me in a workshop, all the way from California to Croatia! Check out my workshop schedule, and find a workshop near you.
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Are you wondering how to get better color in your work?
I have been asked by many of you for help with color. I certainly want my paintings to sparkle with fresh color, and I bet you do as well! This new video shares five tips that you can use right now to improve the color in your work! I'm confident that if you do these five simple things, the brilliance of your paintings will shine through with newfound freshness.
Once you finish watching this short video, clear a pathway to your easel and start practicing these five tips to better color! Then, look out for part two of this video, as I share the results of my own color exercise with you.
In addition to the video, we've created a worksheet that you can print out and tack up next to your easel. This way you can put these five tips to work for you right away! Click the link below to download the worksheet.
Looking for even more inspiration and creative support? Check out my workshop schedule to find a workshop near you! Now have some fun with color.
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"Is it not delightful to have friends coming from afar?" - Chinese proverb
This December, I have been reflecting on the extraordinary opportunities of recent months. With first time workshops in locations as diverse as New Jersey, Texas, and China, it was an exciting time to say the least. Most notable in my journeys was my invitation to exhibit and teach at the 2nd Biennial International Pastel Art Exhibition in Suzhou China. It was as if Christmas came early this year with the exchange of creative gifts across many cultures.
This highly anticipated pastel event exhibited 60 international artists from 14 different countries alongside 40 Chinese artists to showcase 100 beautiful paintings at the stunning Ming Gallery of Art in Suzhou. It was a grand event celebrating a wide diversity of beauty, creativity, and style accomplished in the medium of pastel, attracting thousands of visitors from home and abroad made up of both artists and fans alike.
I had the privilege of sharing my gifts by teaching three portrait workshops at the Ming Jia Art Education Center, taking part in public lectures and painting demonstrations, plain air outings and visits to schools and universities around Suzhou to spread our passion for pastel.
As if this wasn't exciting enough, I was honored to share the stage with pastel luminaries such as Master Pastellists Isabelle Lim (HK), Tony Allain (UK), Liz Haywood-Sullivan (USA), Stan Sperlak (USA), Desmond O'Hagan (USA), and Editor-in-Chief of the Pastel Journal, Anne Hevener (USA). It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I'll never forget.
I wanted to share some pictures of my experiences with you that provide a glimpse into this magical time of cultural exchange and creative sharing. The Ming Gallery of Art created a beautiful video commemorating the 2016 Biennial Exhibition. Click on the image below to watch, and enjoy it even more if you speak Mandarin!
This December, during the holiday season of exchanging gifts and connecting with friends, I hope you realize what a special gift it is to share the beauty of your creative talents with others. Your unique creative expression not only nourishes your own soul, but enriches the lives of everyone around you, both near and far.
I am so honored to be one of several prominent artists associated with the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) who has been invited to the 2nd Biennial International Pastel Exhibition in Suzhou, China as a special guest and workshop instructor. I am really looking forward to this exciting cultural exchange and pastel celebration.
I hope to share more of my experiences in Suzhou with you in the coming weeks!
We just wrapped up our historic first kids art camp at Picard Studio, which culminated in an "Emerging Artists Art Reception" complete with Awards Ceremony. Children from 1st to 6th Grade created some outstanding works of art! Here are some pictures of the masterpieces. Teaching these kids was such a fulfilling experience for my wife and I. Look out art world, here they come!
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I just returned from a refreshing and inspiring family vacation to Europe. We visited family in Germany, and managed to make lasting memories there as well as in Holland, Belgium, and France. I also hosted my first European art workshop in Duesseldorf, Germany. This is the city where my wife was born, attended University and my father-in-law worked his entire professional life. It was a very meaningful experience for us!