This week I had the awesome opportunity to attend a painting workshop with J. Kirk Richards in Kanab Utah. My friend and studio-buddy Allyssa and I drove the four-ish hours to Kanab Wednesday morning arriving just in time for the second class of the day and had to leave after the last class on Thursday in order to get back in time for our Friday classes and commitments. It was a short trip, but definitely worth it.
Kirk taught three classes each day starting with figure painting, then a how to finish a painting class, and finally plein aire painting.
In the figure painting class Kirk talked about blocking in the masses as fast as possible as part of a “premier coup” approach where you paint directly with an initial burst of energy. I really struggled with this at first and am excited to try more of this type of fast, shape-based painting.He also talked about compressing the values in your painting and using more subtle transitions and color statements to develop the painting. A full value range goes from a 1-10 value scale where one is white and 10 is black.
Compressing values in a painting means you are only using a small range on the scale for instance, a four to a seven. In order to make the painting read, you have to place values deliberately and rely on color shifts to turn the form. Kirk has many beautiful examples of this in his work.
In the middle class, Kirk showed explained some amazing composition and color theory using beautiful paintings by the masters. I am not adequately qualified to explain it as well as he did, but we look at using color triangles to tie areas together and discussed how to create an engaging eye-path like a figure eight in your painting. I will attempt to do more research so I can understand those concepts better.
Plein Aire painting in Southern Utah was phenomenal and so much fun! It is a beautiful area just past Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I loved painting the red rock formations against the the sky. I’ll be posting pictures soon.
The whole experience was just fantastic and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from Kirk. He is an amazing teacher.