Friday, November 30, 2012

Learning a new way of thinking about painting...

Recently I was honored to be able to attend a workshop with Dreama Tolle Perry at the Artists Attic in Lexington, KY. (see

I knew I loved the colorful, juiciness of Dreama's paintings and loved reading her blog posts.  I definitely suggest you sign up to receive them as well.  I have been able to travel vicariously to both France & Italy by getting her posts.  I really admire that her workshops are always full and her paintings sell like hotcakes.  I knew I could learn from her attitude about marketing her work.  The first thing I discovered is that her "secret weapon" is her husband!  He helps her handle the sales aspect of the workshops while she does the inspiration & teaching portion.

The Artists' Attic is located in Victorian Square, a fascinating development near Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington.  Parking was very easy & I loved exploring the galleries and shops during our lunch breaks.  (

Dreama had a great way of leveling the playing field each day by having us all work from the same reference image.  The 12x12 demo painting was also the same image.  I enjoyed not being "attached" to the image.  It allowed me to focus on painting instead.

Unlike many other workshop experiences I have had, Dreama painted the demo in stages rather than paint all morning while we watched.  She showed how she started a painting, then had us go paint.  Then she did the middle layer & we painted it too.  Finally she added the "sparkle".  Her process is "wet in wet" or alla prima (all at once).  No waiting for the oil paint to dry...

The first layer is dark but transparent.  This allows the white of the gessoboard to sparkle through the paint:

underpainting with transparent colors
 Looks pretty rough, eh?

Next layer we start adding some opaque (non transparent) colors and begin defining the shapes more:

 The idea is to let the under painting peek through and influence the new layers.

Final, signed painting

 It was fascinating to let the colors play together and NOT get all hung up on exact portrayal of the image.  Quite frankly I loved it!

Here is a group shot of the images created in the first day of painting:

On the final afternoon we worked with our own images, aka flying without a net:
Transparent underpainting

middle phase.  Dreama helped me define the umbrella

Giverny Tea Shop
All in all the workshop was time well spent.  At one point on the final day I was feeling really whiney about my painting & Dreama said "I've seen your painting & you're fine.  Stop whining!"  With a smile of course!  Sometimes we just need someone to say "have faith, it will turn out just fine..."  I think professional artists just know that every painting goes through the "uglies".