Five days with Lois Griffel

In early September, when I launched myself on my marathon of workshops (12 out of 13 days), I started with the 5-day workshop with Lois Griffel. Hard to sum up in a single phrase, but Lois finds shapes and values within competing colors. You MUST follow the link above to understand how exciting, how vibrant her paintings are.

This workshop was unlike any other I have ever taken (ok, I’m not exactly an authority) in that it was structured and progressive. On the first day, we were not to concern ourselves with composition, drawing or any other distracting details. And throughout the workshop we all (including Lois) painted the same scene (from slightly different angles, of course).

We started by laying in the general shapes in underlying colors (burnt sienna, yellow ochre, viridian, pink) that would glow through later. My painting of the tree above represented our first day. Then we practiced layering over without blending, and working in at the edges. Here is the shadowed path that resulted from the second day. (Both days were on Lake Massabesic in Manchester.)

By the third day, we were getting the hang of it. Slowly. Here is my take on the dam in Contoocook on a cloudy, gray day.

Day 4 we stayed in Contoocook but moved over to the gazebo. There were moments of sunshine, but in fact I had to fake the light in order to make this painting come alive. I also took liberties with the setting.

Our last day was a half day. We spent it at Tiffany Gardens, the same bed and breakfast in Londonderry that was a site for the International Plein Air Paintout just a week before. Lois split us into two groups because of the tight spaces, and the subject of my painting was actually the house next door, framed by the garden.

When I finished up at noon that Friday, my white house was a patchwork of bright yellow and blue, and the blues (shadows) were not convincing. Except for the too-light shadows, Lois liked this painting–then. Lois would not approve, but I later toned down the yellow and the blue, proving that I am a slow learner and not quite eligible for the label “impressionist painter”. In my blog tomorrow and subsequent days, I will be talking about the other workshops, and maybe producing a few paintings now and then that reflect what I learned from Lois Griffel.

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