Sunday, September 2, 2012

Successful workshop

Sun Kissed
Original oil painting  14x18"
by Susan Roux

I pushed them out of their comfort zone.

Isn't that what a workshop's all about? You don't go there to do what you already do. You go to learn. The color workshop I just finished teaching was in my eyes very successful. The students were open to experimenting and by day three, it was evident they had learned a lot about color.

I have to thank Home Depot for making so many color swatches available. It was a great way to play with color in a tangible way. The first step to loosening up with color is not to fear it. The more you understand about it and how it works, the less fearful you become. Who's afraid of playing with colored squares of paper?

We worked a series of short exercises. These were great reminders of certain basic principles. As the workshop progressed and students struggled, a quick reminder about an exercise that targeted that very thing, instantly put it into perspective for them. 

I found my students eager to play with color and I have to say they seemed pretty fearless in their approach. Understanding that a workshop painting is not intended to be a masterpiece, is important. It's an experiment applying new principles. It can take awhile for new knowledge to take hold. Practice, practice, practice. It's the key to adopting any new knowledge as your own.

Here you can see a students progression from early on to nearing completion. 

The workshop was held in a local Grange Hall. It was well lit, spacious and filled with tables that allowed us to spread our stuff around. 

Some students chose to work on a single piece while others began a few. The beginning stages held the biggest change from their usual approach. It opened opportunities to explode with color. This was their moment to be wildly and spontaneously creative. Follow the gut instinct. Once the painting was in session, those initial choices effect every other color you apply to the canvas.  Of course we didn't neglect the importance of value. It is after all the tool for defining objects. Color on the other hand is the key to emotion...

I opened the workshop with a quote from South African artist, Petru Viljoen. In referring to color, he said:

Now we're entering the world where angels dance... 

I thought it very appropriate for describing poetry in a painting. The world where angels dance. What a lovely, delicate, pure image it brings to mind. 

The top painting, Sun Kissed was the workshop demo on day one. Here you see me finishing Dream Stroller which was posted in progress when I wrote about creative color comparing it to wine. I don't usually develop a painting so much before adding a figure. But this time, it's how it came to be. 

If you're interested in taking a workshop at some point in time, please contact me. I'll be repeating this workshop in the months to come. 

Note: I figured out some of my photography issues with regard to my paintings. Sun Kissed is the perfect example. Some areas have less layers of paint than others. Often my less important distant passages are placed in rather quickly, neutralizing right from the start. Since there is less paint there, the light passes through to the canvas and bounces back to my camera as light. So rather than the background receding as in the actual painting, it appears to leap forward not neutralized at all! Argh, no wonder I've been frustrated... If you really squint at my images, they'll resemble the original a bit more.


  1. Looks like a great workshop, Susan! When students come with a teachable attitude, great things can happen, for the student and for the teacher. What did you use the color swatches for? I've used them to help me mix color more accurately, with some success.

  2. We were talking about the color wheel and color families. Reference to how you put a complete outfit together or decorate a room was made. I had them choose the photo they would paint and think about the color family it pushed them towards. They selected all their swatches and could instantly see how these colors would look together. Later when they got stuck painting, those swatches were right there to remind them of the direction they set out for in the first place. For some, it's all they needed to get back on track.

    They also just had fun touching, playing and moving the colors around.

    We used them to answer color questions. We did an exercise where they picked a color and had to use a warm shade and a cool shade of the same color. It was an exercise on contrast. The colored squares came in handy and reference to the color wheel helped it all make sense.

  3. A beautiful painting, Susan!!! This looks like such a wonderful workshop....the students work is absolutely beautiful as well.

  4. Looks like a grand time was had by all! Personally, I don't like color: it dirties up my brushes...

  5. Hi there Susan!... A stunning piece capturing the very essence of your workshop focus - light and its effect upon colour!

    It sure sounds... and appears from your students'works produced that your colour workshop supplied everyone with new insights to take home to their own studios! BRAVO!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  6. Hi Susan,
    You have done great works. Color composition is really outstanding.

    I am a Hobbyist aged 23, like to do in traditional mediums. Well, i haven't drawn much, from little age, i wanted to be an artist, but my parents wanted me to be in some assured profession.. Got very less motivation from my home, also liked to study , finally ended up in Engineering, recently started working in software industry, but my heart still is in painting, i consider i am not too much old to come completely in arts field professionally, but I haven't got any training etc. And also as regular gaps occured, i am not much efficient in painting. So Please give some time to see my paintings .. Especially one which i did when i was 15 link - , and give some KIND comments, if i am bad, say it, i will accept it, as My life is hanging in between these two fields. I don't want to be in some dream of my own. Here is the Link for drawings till date..
    Help me!! with your comments and suggestions.

    Mritunjay Singh


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