Thursday, 5 June 2014

Painting in Dent, May 2014

Heading out towards the river from Dent Village
Each year I run painting courses near to my home town of Halifax as well as courses for clubs and art groups all around the country. As part of my painting activities I usually run a weekend course in a nice village where lots of painting matter can be generally found. In 2014 my painting weekend was held in Dent, Cumbria and thirteen painters enjoyed the spectacular scenery and beautiful summer weather that the month of May had to offer. Using the village hall as a base, the weekend kicked off with a short video presentation that I had made, which showed how I find designs through my own eyes - so useful and so helpful for everyone and of course it saved me trying to describe what I wanted to say. Afterwards we ventured out into the landscape on what was a glorious Saturday morning, looking for subjects to paint. I work mainly from photographs and I look out for designs that aren't always apparent or suitable to paint from an easel, so this is what I was introducing to the group. As we wandered away from the village and down towards the river, the bells of the church began to ring out for a wedding and a lone piper added to the whole ambiance. I did try to persuade my group that I had pre-ordered this, along with the weather but I don't think they were having any of it.
Along the Dales Way by the river
We spent a good amount of time looking at different subjects and we were so lucky that the sunshine provided those interesting shadows and contrast that are really important in a painting. So we explored a variety of subjects with our cameras throughout the morning before returning to the hall for lunch. In the afternoon we looked at modifying some designs by making a sketch plan. Participants were free to find and make designs of their own bit of Dent either outdoors or in the hall. For those working from their photographs we set up our own 'Max Speilmann' corner with a laptop and printer so that everyone could print something off to work from.

In the evening we regrouped in the Sun Inn in Dent to eat, relax and chat and this also gave any non painting partners opportunity to interact and learn about what we had all been doing during that day. Last year we had a fantastic time in Slaidburn in the Forest of Bowland and for a bit of a laugh, Chris, one of our regular painters set up a sweepstake based on what people thought I might be demonstrating on the Sunday morning. It was so much fun that in true style of tradition, he did it again this year. We set up a number of possible locations taken from the day that I might paint, then for a pound each the group could place their bets. I had already prepared my demonstration so there was quite a bit of banter about who might win the jackpot - but not to be revealed until the morning!

Dave accepting his winnings. I'm sure he said he was 
going to spend it on a brand new car.
On Sunday morning we gathered in the hall and I conducted my demonstration but before that, I had to announce the winner of the sweepstake, which this year was won by Dave Whitehead for choosing the angle from the corner of the cricket field looking towards the pavillion. Here he is accepting his winnings - somewhere in the region of twelve quid.

Rough design sketch
My demonstration showed how I had located the design, how I had composed it and adjusted it, then more importantly how I painted it using a variety of techniques to capture the essence of the bright day in May.

Afterwards everyone eagerly got on with their own work and I helped them out individually throughout the afternoon. As is customary with my courses we finished the weekend with an appraisal where I rounded off with encouragement and constructive comments.
Demonstration painting looking up towards the cricket pavillion at Dent, 2014
More great memories, a lovely group of people with a wonderful standard of work.

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