This past March I had the wonderful opportunity to take a week long workshop from pastel artist Susan Ogilvie. Soon after, I posted a few of the paintings I created on WetCanvas. Many of the members wanted to know more about Susan's workshops and how she teaches. Susan has graciously given me an overview, and a few photos, that convey some of the stages she goes through to create a finished painting.
Susan offers a comprehensive workshop for the pastel painter who is interested in improving painting and “seeing” skills, developing stronger compositions, and moving beyond the literal sense of the landscape. She does this by establishing a more personal approach to using shape, value, and color, the student can learn to create a dynamic, sensitive, and unique statement about the subject. Experimentation is the core of her workshops. Each day will focus on a different topic, illustrated during a morning demo/discussion and then explored in the students’ work at the easel. The students will be able to create their own support surfaces, clarify the essential elements of value studies from the field (weather permitting), use photographs effectively, and gain confidence with value and color relationships in their paintings.
Susan's goal with each student is to encourage exploration and self-discovery, motivate artistic growth, and act as the safety net!” Her class will consist of mostly studio work. The workshop is a wonderful opportunity for the beginner to the professional - it will get you out of your comfort zone. Susan's workshops are an opportunity to explore, experiment, and grow.
Here is the on-location compositional sketch, the underpainting with surface texture, and the completed painting. You’ll noticed I changed the smaller structure. When I got back from Florida, I decided I didn’t like the direction the painting was going (where I left it at the workshop.) So I hosed it off, applied another coat of texture, and began anew on top of the underpainting. (Another reason I’m liking having a sound underpainting.) The final version has more things connected by value: the foreground fields, mid-ground pasture, and structures all share common values without radically different colors. This allows the mountains and sky to form a backdrop—enough going on to convey form, scale, etc., but not too much to compete with the foreground scene. I’ve included a black and white photo I shot before changing the structures, so I could see how the values were working.
About the small structure—as I was working, I became aware of the shape/value differences between the 2 barns. In order to group them better, I created something that would link better to the big barn. That turned out to be the hardest part of doing the painting!
Black and white photo showing values:
Under-painting with surface texture:
Susan Ogilvie has received numerous national awards, holds signature status with the Pastel Society of America in New York, and maintains a busy studio schedule. She is a respected juror, accomplished painting instructor, and popular guest speaker. Susan’s paintings are held nationally in many corporate and private collections, and published in The Best of Pastel, The Best of Drawing, and Pure Color: The Best of Pastel. Her work has also been featured in Southwest Art, The Artist’s Magazine, The Pastel Journal, and International Artists. Susan juried the “Landscapes and Interiors” category for The Pastel Journal’s 9th Annual “Pastel 100 Competition.” Gifted with a spirited and motivational teaching style, Susan conducts several comprehensive pastel workshops each year.