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Dahlias after Painting Class

Dahlias in Oil

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Oil paint on gessoed mat board, 12×7.5″

Sunday was my first plein air oil painting workshop with Elio Camacho and it was fabulous! Elio is not only a wonderful painter, but he’s a fantastic teacher — so energetic, enthusiastic and generous in sharing everything he knows (which is a lot!).

Although Elio covered a huge amount of artistic territory in his conversations with us, what really sunk in for me at this session was the importance of temperature (warm vs cool colors) and value (dark vs light) and how to use those relationships to paint the effects of light in the landscape.

To better understand this concept and practice seeing color temperature, he suggested doing a still life of all yellow objects as homework so I painted these dahlias from my garden (after scrubbing all the nasty aphids and ants off them–ick!). Yellow is a good color to practice with because there are many yellow pigments from cool to warm and dark to light and you can successfully lighten it with white, unlike red which turns pastel pink when white is added.

Since I started this journey to learn oil painting, I’ve read many books, watched a dozen oil painting videos, and received wonderful support from my online painting mentor, Nel. There were so many concepts, “rules”, and techniques that I understood intellectually but in class they came to life! Seeing the process demonstrated and being able to ask questions each step of the way was great.

And even better was having Elio checking on me every 15 minutes or so during the three hours I was painting. He demonstrated what he meant when I didn’t understand; he recommended I quit dabbling– put down a stroke and leave it; he showed me how to hold my brush correctly and at what angle, so I was putting paint down without scraping it off at the same time (hold the tip of the brush and keep it at a low angle to the canvas, not perpendicular as I was doing). So many things just clicked.

The painting I did in class isn’t worth posting, though it had some nice moments along the way. Now that I know how to hold my brush properly and understand the importance of the direction of the brush stroke, and am learning to see color temperature and value better, I’m can’t wait to start my next painting!