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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Carolyn Anderson workshop (part 1)

Oil on linen - 16x12"

Just back from a 5 day Carolyn Anderson workshop in Scottsdale, AZ. It was FAN-tastic! Learned so much - she is funny, direct, wise, focused and wickedly talented!

This painting was actually done outside of the workshop on the second night at an open studio put on by the Scottsdale Artist's School. (If you haven't heard of the school or taken a course there, check it out. They offer workshops by some of the best artists painting in the States right now. It's a top notch venue, and the staff bend over backwards to provide an outstanding experience.)

Okay, it's pretty much impossible to share all I learned as it was fairly intense, but here are some key thoughts I brought home with me. (Look for my next post to see images of paintings that illustrate what I learned between this painting and the end of the week.)
  • Strive to put down each brushstroke with a clear intention.
  • As things are rounding or moving back in space - soften edges.
  • Think of eyebrows as accents on the bottom of the forehead (love that).
  • Painting is a process that continually responds to information - not step by step until it's done.
  • Look at the model and the painting together throughout the painting process.
  • Stand far enough back to see all 4 corners of the canvas.
And a couple of powerful things to contemplate:

"We see not only an arrangement of color and shape - but an interplay of directed tensions." Rudolf Arnheim
(This, once I got it, opened up my ability to see and draw in a whole new way.)

"Paintings are like snowflakes. They are unique because of all the events that are unfolding as they fall to the ground. They are not meant to be a fixed idea from beginning to end." Carolyn Anderson


  1. Beautiful painting Liz! Your enthusiasm is infectious and your astounding and constant growth as an artist is super motivating. Congratulations on your latest award, and thanks for sharing all your thoughts and inspiring us!

  2. Perfect work Liz.I'm waiting for more tips and painting.

  3. Great painting and love the informative info that you enjoyed will try some of it when painting.

  4. You make her glow; gorgeous!

  5. Great blog post, Liz. Isn't it great when things crystallize in your mind? The painting is gorgeous!

  6. Awesome painting!! I love how it is so realistic and detailed but yet so painterly and rough on the edges. Beautiful piece!

  7. great post Liz-looking forward to the next one!

  8. Thanks guys! Brad, part of the reason it's rough on the edges is because 3 hours was up and the model went home. :)

  9. Absolutely stunning painting, Liz! Grateful for your generosity sharing it with us and...the juicy tidbits from the FAN-tastic workshop!!

  10. Great painting Liz. I was lucky enough last year to attend a 4 day workshop with her in Colorado. I learned more in that 4 days than I have in the last 4 years! Congratulations as well on the Raymar award.

  11. Liz, I am glad the time was up! Its perfect!

  12. Wonderful portrait Liz. Sounds like you had a great experience at the workshop. Love some of the points you raise and Carolyn's analogy of paint being like snowflakes...never fixed from beginning to end. That is like poetry for me. I'm going to print your recap so I can reread them regularly. Thanks, you never stop teaching.

  13. Really nice! Thanks for sharing what you learned . . . the snowflake analogy is sooooo apt! And congratulations for the Raymar award! I saw it in an email, admired it greatly and didn't look at the artist's name . . . yours!!!