Finally back in Aurora, Ontario, for a one day oil painting workshop. It was an extremely hot day and I was relieved to be inside the air-conditioned Aurora Town Hall where the event was held.
The Town of Aurora
The town of Aurora is located approximately 40 minutes north of Toronto and is consistently ranked as one of the top places to live in Canada. With its picturesque rolling hills and heavily treed woodlots, Aurora has managed to blend its small-town charm and historic downtown core with a thriving urban and suburban centre. Aurora is the childhood home of Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968. In 1851 the population of Aurora, then known as Machell’s Corners (after a local merchant), was 100 residents. In 1854 the name of the settlement was changed by postmaster Charles Doan to Aurora – meaning Goddess of the Dawn in Roman mythology. The settlement was incorporated as a village in 1863 with a growing business community, several factories and mills, five churches and a school house. By 1869 the population had grown to 1200 and in 1888 Aurora became a town. On April 8, 2010, the town re-opened the historic and fully renovated Church Street School as the Aurora Cultural Centre.
Due to ongoing renovations at the Aurora Cultural Centre, the workshop was held at the Aurora Town Hall (see below).
Aurora Cultural Centre
It is the vision of the Aurora Cultural Centre to provide a facility that enhances cultural life in the area through the fostering of art practice and presentation, production and reception. Since 2010, the building has welcomed the community to participate in diverse creative experiences for all ages. Located in a beautifully-restored 1886 schoolhouse, the Aurora Cultural Centre is a charming historical treasure featuring four gallery exhibition spaces, a range of instructional classes for children, teens and adults, an eclectic live music series, special family events, summer art camps, and stunning rental spaces for community activities. The centre is a registered charity, funded in part by the town of Aurora. The professional staff is supported by a dedicated volunteer board of directors and enthusiastic team of volunteers. The facility is wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned with parking surrounding the building.
The Aurora Cultural Centre is located at 22 Church Street, Aurora, Ontario.
Phone: (905) 713-1818
Check out the website to see what is happening!
Completing an oil painting still life in one teaching session is no easy feat. One always has to consider the layering process and drying time usually associated with oil painting.
Below is the still life drawn onto a cotton canvas (20 x 16 inches) – pear, grapes, drapery and a rustic wood table. Usually at this stage I would underpaint the entire canvas with something like a grisaille (grey or another neutral greyish colour) or a burnt sienna tone and leave it to dry before developing the layers of the painting. In this case of having to complete the painting in one sitting I am taking a different approach.
Note: To assist in the drawing process, the handout for the still life included a grid scaled at 50 percent (10 x 8 inches) of the canvas size. To use the grid method for transferring the drawing onto the canvas, students lightly drew a grid onto the canvas doubling the size of the grid lines. Instead of the one inch grid on the handout, they used a two inch grid on the canvas.
The colours on the pear (from left to right ) – yellows, oranges reds etc. – were placed in separate bands, each color barely touching the one before it. Then with two soft brushes (I used two Simmons #8 soft, flat brushes) the edges where the two colours meet were blended with short, soft circular strokes to create a transition from one colour to the next. For the blending process, paper towels were used to remove excess paint from the brush.
Below: The pear is blended to give strong form and realistic transitions in colour.
Now adding the drapes and background. Thick white paint in the highlight areas of the cloth and blend with two Princeton (or Simmons) #8 soft, Filbert brushes, one for the light tones and one for the dark. With a mix of burnt umber, Payne’s grey, yellow ochre, cadmium red and white, the dark values of the cloth were blended with pure titanium white.
Below: Drapes and background developing. Grapes added.
Above: Painting the wood bench and developing the background. Each student shows individual expression in painting the still life.
Painting the grapes and background.
Above: First layer in progress.
Below: Using a dollar store backscratcher as a mahlstick tool support to paint detail on the grapes.
Above: Still life painting completed by Sarha Shana.
Check out my new book: Botanical Drawing & Painting available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
Featuring 12 step-by-step botanical projects in graphite, coloured pencils and watercolour.
My next workshop, Country Landscapes in Watercolour is on August 17 & 18 at Southampton Art School & Gallery.
201 High Street, Southampton, Ontario / Telephone: (519) 797-5068
Hope to see you there!