Rio Grande — Day One of the Riordan Workshop

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Rio Grande at Rio Rancho.  7″ x 10″ on Arches 140#.

The first day of the workshop with Michael Riordan was amazing. I didn’t expect to emerge with anything worthy of showing but I think it’s respectable, so here it is.

He started out the day with a demo showing an underpainting in cobalt and cad orange with very pale watery wash and letting that dry.  Then he worked wet in wet from top to bottom of the paper on a pretty good slant, keeping the bead of pigment going, spritzing occasionally to keep it all moist until it was where he wanted it.

There are 17 of us in the class and at times it was hard to see, so I packed my binoculars for tomorrow and I can see better standing up behind the rows of chairs.  I’ll let you know if that plan works.

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Photo and value sketch (top left)  The others are value sketches for other photos.

We are working on landscapes, so we came prepared with choices to work from and our first task was to make a small 2-3″ value sketch.  he does this for every painting and then doesn’t refer to the photograph.  but then again he has years of experience knowing nature, painting plein air, etc.

I referred to my photograph!  LOL  but really tried to work from the value sketch.

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showing full painting and second in progress on the left

I don’t have a ton of experience with underpainting, other than when I do wet in wet washes and then carve out the blossoms as in the yucca bloom  or the lantana paintings.  So here’s the actual block that I was working on.  I knew I wanted to paint a smaller painting because of time and learning new skills, but I got carried away with the darkness of the first underpainting on the left, so I did a softer gentler version on the right and finished that one.  When I was done I started doing the left side and kind of like the foliage texture I have going there…

Anyway, another key point he stressed was to know your focal point and have the darkest dark against the lightest light (in this case white)  there.  The river in front of the dark foliage is the white paper and that’s not something I would have left white without his encouragement. and it works!  Because the lower portion (the foreground) really doesn’t “aid in telling the story” he suggested cropping it (as I’ve done in the top photo.

10 thoughts on “Rio Grande — Day One of the Riordan Workshop

  1. A really lovely class piece. Isn’t it great when you feel deep inside that you’ve made progress and learned new skills. I hope the binoculars help you see the demo – what a big class!


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