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Plein Air Painting – a workshop with Julie Houck

February 22, 2010

One of the things I did while in Hawaii was to take a 4-day plein-air painting workshop with Julie Houck. This was really difficult for me, as it forced me out of my comfort zone on many levels.  Landscapes have never been my thing in any medium, I had never before painted outdoors in oils, and I’m fairly new to oils in any case.  In addition, the first day we worked on composition, analogous color schemes and color charm, and I attempted to expand the 5-color palette I’m used to using in order to create more exciting color combinations.  The result was complete paralysis by the second day!  I decided on the third day to cut my losses go back to the palette I’m used to.  I’ll try to add new colors, one at a time, in the coming months.  I’ve set myself the task of doing lots of landscapes in the studio – starting on paper with cheap oils, just to reduce my inhibitions, to get ready to go out and do some painting outdoors when the weather gets nice.

Each day of the workshop we painted in a different location in Maui, trying to put into play all that we’d learned about composition, value  and color theory.  It became painfully obvious to me that it’s a lot easier to criticize someone else’s painting than to keep all of those variables in mind as you paint your own.  I don’t have any images of the first day, which was mainly exercises, or the second when I had sort of a meltdown, so I’ll start with day 3.

We painted from my friend Debbie’s house, where the view is what I imagine when I listen to “Over the Rainbow”.

My main objective was just to fill the canvas with paint, so I was pretty happy with the result, although I don’t feel that the canvas reflects much of my personality.

On the fourth and last day, we painted in a place called “Baby Beach”.  Here I am with Julie.  That gorgeous turquoise water moved in after I’d started, and unfortunately I didn’t get it into my painting (I’m not sure how well I could have captured it with my limited palette either).

Here’s what I saw:

Debbie, on the other hand, was looking out towards all that gorgeous turquoise, and her sunny Hawaiian disposition captured an entirely different mood.

I wish I’d thought to take o photo of Lisa’s painting from the last day too – it was beautifully emotive – an unchained sea.  She had decided to let go of her inhibitions and just paint!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2010 2:37 pm

    Oh gosh you have identified my greatest fear; taking a workshop and having this kind of experience. However, after all is said and done, your painting is beautiful and so ‘Hawaiian’.

  2. February 22, 2010 2:44 pm

    What fun. I loved reading this post. Your descriptions are wonderful, as are your paintings. You, like the rest of us, are way too hard on yourself. I love watercolor…… but oils are so enticing, and your post makes me want to get out the oils. (my limited palette of 5 also).

  3. February 22, 2010 5:04 pm

    Casey, I think your paintings are exquisite! Really lovely–and especially knowing you’re really just starting out, too. They’re beautiful. I can so relate to your meltdown–I went to one workshop where the level of expertise among participants was very high and I spent the entire week feeling “I’m not worthy,” but I still learned so much in the class and I’m glad I went! Glad to hear I’m not the only one who had a panic attack!

    These are really wonderful, Casey!

  4. February 22, 2010 5:28 pm

    Casey I really enjoyed reading your frank thoughts about the workshop and think you under estimate your beautiful oil, those rocks….er….rock! 🙂

  5. February 23, 2010 6:00 am

    Your painting came out great! It’s such a challenging scene with all the bright light and tons of little rocks but you nailed it!

  6. February 23, 2010 6:03 am

    P.S. Love your banner painting! What is the translation of your blog title — is that the name of your street?

    • caseytoussaint permalink*
      February 24, 2010 3:30 pm

      you guessed it, jana! I was lacking in inspiration – rue Manuel is one of the streets we live on (we’re on the corner), and the bis just means two – since at one point I had a Yahoo blog with the same name.

  7. February 23, 2010 6:15 am

    Casey, thank you for this post!
    Tellement intéressant de lire ce rapport de stage!
    Les peintures sont très belles, ces cailloux dans la mer sont magnifiquement peints, bravo!
    Tu es prête pour aller peindre dehors dès maintenant!

  8. February 23, 2010 8:11 am

    I think these are terrific, Casey! All those rocks in the foreground – beautifully done.

  9. February 23, 2010 9:43 am

    I envy this workshop at this place. Great work!

  10. February 24, 2010 1:17 pm

    lovely :>)

  11. February 24, 2010 2:47 pm

    On va t’appeler “La magicienne d’Oz” !…
    Encourageants débuts… d’une longue série ?

  12. caseytoussaint permalink*
    February 24, 2010 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the supportive comments everyone! I hope that I didn’t give too negative a report about the workshop. Julie was very positive and supportive. I always have a meltdown when I try a new medium – but I usually do it in private. I came out of the 4 days feeling enthusiastic and ready to work, and you can’t really ask for more than that.

  13. February 24, 2010 5:44 pm

    What a wonderful experience that must have been. I loved reading about it and your paintings are great. Makes me want to join you in your new adventure and get outdoors with my oils, but alas it is cold, windy and sleeting—nasty old winter in Maine.

    Good luck on the 100 landscapes. I am looking forward to seeing them, so I will be back soon.

  14. February 24, 2010 5:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It sounds great! I feel exactly as you do towards painting landscapes, and I’ve only tried using oils once! So this is exactly what I’d need to get me started!

  15. Wendy permalink
    March 5, 2010 9:31 am

    I have only painted outside in oils on one weekend workshop. I thought it was a nightmare. All that MESS I made.


  1. Plein Air Painting – a workshop with Julie Houck « edm superBlog2
  2. 100 Landscapes « edm superBlog2

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