Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 5 with Mr. Handell

Mr. Handell's tree painting demo this morning began later than originally scheduled because we were all at the workshop until nearly 11 PM last night having one-on-one critiques with him followed by a stunning 60-slide presentation of his work.
This morning, his drawing of this tree was s-l-o-w (and careful) which gave me time to ponder my critique feedback from last night and, in doing that while watching him draw, I had an epiphany about myself and my work. In short, I'm tired of making "pretty pictures." (This may be one of the reasons I have been experimenting with abstracting - and that's a good thing.)  Ever since I broke away from the precise colored pencil of my past, I took joy in making imprecise marks and fully expect all marks I make with pastel to WORK. Many times they do and I complete another pretty picture. When they don't, I hose it off and start again. I now realize that if I am to make art that is MORE than a pretty picture, I need to spend much more time in the foundation/bones stage. S-L-O-W DOWN. Well, that's the short version of my breakthrough. My thanks to Mr. Handell for the part he played in my revelation.

After the demo and lunch, students caravanned to a new location: old farmhouse and out buildings, meadows wild with Queen Anne's lace and weathered fruit and filbert trees. Reminded me very much of the farm on Vashon Island where I raised my children. With every step around the acreage there was another emotion-filled scene for me and I took 103 reference photos for future paintings. Other students were setting up to paint for a couple hours, but I was spent. That's when I came upon this rose. "You look like I feel," I said to the rose. Talking to roses; time to quit.
As I write this, I am in my motel room for the evening. Tomorrow, after delivering art to Attic Gallery in Portland, I'll head back to my studio and what is forecast to be a rainy weekend. Sounds great!

If you would like to read more about this Albert Handell workshop, visit the blog of my new acquaintance and fellow artist, Brenda Boylan. She has many photos and notes from the workshop to share as well as beautiful work. Also, thanks to Susan, Amanda, Jan and all the friendly and supportive artists I met this week.


  1. Barbara, thanks so much for all the info and insights into your week with Mr Handell. I have loved every word and thought and have gotten lots of inspiration to dive back into my pastels and keep on trying! Thanks also for the links to the blogs/websites of your friends from the workshop. I have bookmarked each one for further inspiration!
    Dena Hill - Fort Worth, Texas

  2. You're very welcome Dena. Good luck with your painting.

  3. Hi Barbara, Thanks for posting about the Albert Handell workshop. I really appreciated hearing about your epiphany. You are so right. Pretty pictures are a dime a dozen... searching for that elusive quality, that feeling that takes them beyond pretty picture is the goal. Your work is absolutely beautiful. I know your quest will be fruitful.