Sunday, November 15, 2009

Impressionists - How light got onto the canvas

That is the title of one of the current exhibitions in Albertina, a major museum in Vienna, which also houses a huge collection of graphic works - one of them is Albrecht Duerers Rabit.

I attended a workshop there today where we were first aquainted with early photography and it's influence on painting.

To learn about photography and developing pictures we first cut out some forms from paper and cardboard, turned off the light an using just red light, arranged the forms on photographic paper, put glass over it to keep the forms steady, turned on the light for a second or two, turned it off again and developed the photos:
After seeing these effects we got our one hole cameras, black cardboard boxes with a hole cut in the bottom. On the inside was a strip of paper, which guided another thin cardboard strip with little holes in different sizes (as it was a sunny day, we used the smallest hole - like a needle). On the outside was a black cardboard flap which could be put over the hole or opened up. The cover of the box had a sticky tape on the inside, onto which we stuck the photographic paper. Closing everything up, we left the museeum to take landscape photos.

I put my "camera" underneath a tree, pointing up to the sky, opened the flap for a minute and - magic! If you look closely you can even see next year's buds!

After a guided tour through the exhibit we went back to the studio to paint our photos. I decided to keep the negative effect as I think the photo turned out very dramatic.

After the workshop I got the chance to go on another guided tour and look at more stuff, but with 180 paitings and loads of other stuff to look at, I will have to return on another day, to take it all in.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Austria's State Holiday fell on a Monday this year, the perfect opportunity for a long weekend and a watercolor class with Albert Hoffmann in Gamlitz, southern Styria, right at the border to Slovenia. A cold, wet, foggy weekend, which still gave a lot of time for painting in the winegardens of Styria.We spent the first morning near our quarters in case of rain coming and started out with painting an old farmbuilding.

The second try of painting the view from the garden of a very rustic "Buschenschank" owned by a mother and her daughters, the three "Winzerköniginnen" - young beautifull girls, knowledgable about wine, elected to represent wine made in their area for a year.

Landscapes, hills - oh my!

A LOT of help from Albert!

Basically Albert overpainted the whole picture. Do I have a problem with hills!

More of my fumblings at my flickr site.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mystical Waldviertel

At the end of September I took a weekend class of Albert Hoffmann, an Austrian watercolor artist. You can see his watercolor work if you click on the topmost button on the left "Aquarell". He has a completely different approach than all the other teachers I have studied with. His work is very expressive and free. First he paints the motive and then everybody in class works on their own painting, while he aids, corrects, paints over.....
Waldviertel is the most northern part of Austria, and we were quite near where I spent a weekend in August. The climate is cool, there is a lot of fog and with the woods and hills a really magical landscape. There are a lot of small villages with old farmbuildings, tiny churches and of course a number of legends. In the above painting we started out with the trees in negative space and then added the village. Even with Albert's help I feel as if the painting falls into two parts.
The next morning we went to a little village with a pond for the fire brigade. The church, which Albert wanted us to paint was covered by trees, so we did not get a good reflection. Instead we painted old barns.
In the afternoon we painted a village, ducking down between the hills.
Sunday morning we spent at Schloss Greilenstein. One of the many old castles in that area. Sitting in the park we tried to capture just the most essential parts. "You're getting there." High praise indeed.
After lunch on our way back home we stopped at the side of a small road to try to capture the rolling hills of Waldviertel. I tried, I really did. In the end Albert just painted all over my painting, with me sitting in the grass beside him, laughing tears. Had I known then, what troubles hills would give me in my next class with him, I probably would have cancled :-)

If you are interested you can see more of my paintings at my flickr site.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend with Storks

In September I spent a weekend in Rust, which is a small village in the southeast of Austria. Burgenland, the youngest county of Austria has a variety of landscapes, from wooded hills in the north to the wide flat salty area next to hungary. Rust is nearly at the border to hungary at Neusiedler See, the largest body of water in Austria, which is also a nature reserve for migrating birds. There is a lot of wine grown in Burgenland as the climate is ideal for it.As usual we started out with a warm up, drawing (one of) the church(es) and part of town square.

On Saturday we painted one of the quaint village roads. I chose to work on ingress paper glued to a board, which I had still left from a (very unsuccessfull) stil life course. This was a complete disaster, as the colors just sat on the paper, I had to make a lake of water, put a little bit of color in to get any movement at all. Even our teacher could not save that painting - lesson learned.
We spent the afternoon near the shore, painting the reeds, some of us painted the storks, which Rust is famous for. They return every year and are a big tourist attraction.
I picked out some reeds to try getting the movement from the wind. I did this a number of times, this one was the most successfull. We had to flee rather suddenly, as once the sun got low very very tiny flys tried to eat us up. My legs itched for two weeks.

Frustrated by a rather unsucessfull painting weekend I returned to my sketchbook style of drawing, only this time added watercolor. This time I even drew the storks :-).


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembering Summer

I seem to have lost the last couple of months somewhere! This is the first weekend for months with nothing to do but rest and catch up with life. Just looking at all the painting I have done this summer makes me realise, how busy I have been.
At the end of AugustI spent four days in Bad Waltersdorf and attended a watercolor class two mornings. It was supposed to be Watercolor Sketching in travel journals and at the last moment they combined the class with a Watercolor Beginners class. In the end we only were three attendants and a great teacher. It was the first time I experienced what a teacher means when he says: I'll pick everybody up where he/she is at the moment and we will go on from there.

Three attendants - three interests - three completely different lessons. I learned so much in these 8 hours of class. I really worked on stuff I learned in my watercolor class in July and did it again and again, taking our teachers advice and immediately tried to put it into practice.
This kind of one on one teaching opend the door for discussions, to try out stuff to prove a point and to grow. I just love how my rocks turned out. I love how I managed to get the reflections and I love the colors.

Our teacher mostly works with a flat 2,5 inch flat brush and at the end of the course lent it to me, showed me a watercolor painting in a book and said: do your best to copy that:I still can not believe that I painted Venice.