Over the next few days I will try to scan and post all the studies I did in last week’s Tom Hoffmann workshop on Lopez Island. And the word “studies” is very appropriate because that was what we were doing. It was a learning experience and Tom encouraged us to try new things, to get out of our comfort zones, to let go of old habits.

One thing that surprised me with the subjects that we painted over the four days was how little drawing we did. We painted skies, fields, trees, water and rocks but hardly anything man-made. That made things easy and difficult at the same time. Think about it. When you look at a farmer’s field as it moves into the distance there is not much to paint. And when you look into the forest there is too much to paint. Every day and every subject was a complex problem to render in paint and that’s what made it thrilling. It involved a lot of looking, thinking and analyzing about how it should be attacked, and even testing out potential problem areas. Day in and day out I paint things (buildings, boats, flowers, household objects) but I was rendered quite speechless in front of a large yellow field of barley. Or this forest clearing. But we looked. And analyzed. And then painted. And the advice from Tom’s wise and patient teaching was to think about where the lights and darks were, and to keep it abstract as long as possible. More to come tomorrow…


24 Comments on “Clearing”

  1. Wonderful Shari,
    I knew this would be a great fit for you. I love the abstract and loose quality of this!

  2. Muriel Scott-Smith says:

    I like how this moves you to Impressionism; is that part of your plan?

  3. Very interesting, Shari. This is exactly what I am attempting, getting away from my exact tight painting. This I feel is a good exercise which will help with our traditional work. Cannot wait to read and see more of your Western sketches. Thanks for your posts.

  4. Alison says:

    Thank you for sharing your learning and Tom’s wisdom Shari. Very interesting! I look forward to the upcoming posts.

  5. Carolyn Jones says:

    Very inspiring! Maybe you could offer a workshop this fall using this material. If you wanted to come to Sherbrooke I bet I could work up a class for you. We have beautiful woods, farms and lakes to paint here too.

  6. Fascinating; thanks for sharing your thoughts on the process.

  7. CharlieAmra says:

    Thank you for sharing the insights you learned from the course. I know I do not do enough “looking, thinking and analyzing” in my own work. This piece is a good reminder.

  8. The tree trunks are lovely. They remind me of the lichen and florescent green covered alder and evergreen tree trunks in the Northwest forest. Very typical!

  9. Sue says:

    Thank you as always for sharing your journey with watercolor with us all. I love your work and posts.

  10. Les says:

    I come from the opposite direction having done oil paintings in settings like forests and vineyards. I think I can appreciate more what you are saying Shari. Right now I’m working on getting more dark values in my urban watercolor sketches. Something that seemed to come easier in nature setting with oils.

    • Getting enough dark is always a problem for me. I guess you do look at differently if you are used to oil. You work from dark to light whereas in watercolour I work from light to dark. And if you go too dark it is always more difficult to lighten the painting. That’s why the struggle is never over!

  11. Elena says:

    Hi, Shari,
    Thanks for the great and inspiring blog! How lucky you are – attending a Tom Hoffmann’s workshop!

    I was wondering what brushes does he use for his landscapes?

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