Sunday, November 24, 2013

I took a workshop myself.

A great perk I receive for teaching at the Scottsdale Artist School is I get to take a workshop of my choice (with the permission of the chosen instructor).  Like an instructor trade.  I was lucky enough to take Mark Daniel Nelson's workshop combining realism and abstraction.  It was fantastic.  First, I can't recommend highly enough taking this class.  Taking any class from Mark would be great.  He is a really good and thorough teacher.  His demos are great.  His slide shows pertaining to each idea are brief and to the point.  He gets us excited to start the next painting idea and keep going.
A couple of things that really stuck with me is he talks about design and "the big dumb shape" and the creative curve from "1 to 5" and how if we can stay in the zone of "2 and 3" this is where we will create our most honest and intuitive work.  So interesting.  I just got so much more out of this.  
We did exercises paying close attention to cropping.  We did sketching outdoors.  Just walking around and randomly drawing, only to later bring them to the studio and create works from them.  And even to create  works from maybe just a section of the larger piece. 
He's big into cropping, rearranging, using photoshop and creating these marvelous compositions with wonderful color.  Check him out on Facebook or
Here are a few of his works below.  Amazing. 

So I dove in and have to say I felt like a "duck out of water" and loved it.  This is just the start I needed and the words I needed in order to keep giving my self permission to go on to other ideas.  To allow myself to experiment more.  I love a good abstract work and ya know, they are not easy and "NO ! a monkey couldn't do what Joan Mitchell did!"
I didn't go hard core abstract but I pushed myself and here are a few examples of work below.  I did a ton!   I am going to take several of them and find that "big dumb shape" and work it into the piece. 

Working on cropping.  This was the first idea to think about.

So I just grabbed random objects, juggled them around and played with the cropping.

And we were to try and approach the drawing with a more child like interpretation just to see where it would take us.  

Then I had to move on to some figure work.  I just started looking around the class and composing without too much judgement.  That's another thing he talked about!  Avoiding the judgement zone on the curve.  A lot of doubt and second guessing will creep in!  

I cropped in on a car I drew out in the parking lot and played with the screaming red.  
Oh, I worked in Holbein Acryla Gouache and regular gouache for the 3 days.  How I wished it would have been a 5 day workshop.

More of the students in the class.  Just turned around and had this great view.

Had a lot of fun with this.  Really pushed the composition and then created the big crop with the one below.

And another working with the figure.


  1. Oh I am so happy that you shared this! Thank you. Such great information and fun ideas. I love how he pushes the line between representation and the abstract. Your work in the workshop is so expressive and fun. Incredibly inspirational. Gotta love this internet..

  2. Peggi! First off, the last couple of posts have been great! Your "voice" sounds wonderfully positive. Glad that you had a good time at this workshop and funny too that you mention this work-the cropping, etc. I have been doing the VERY same thing on my walks at Lake Hogan. Looking for pieces of things to concentrate on shape, line, and texture. Your results are super. I particularly like 7 and 9 of your work.

    Hey, anytime you would like to go outdoors (or around town) to look for semi-abstract ideas and croppings or just talk about the topic, let me know. I have been using my camera a lot(black and white) to compose in the field and to do my sketches. It's been an eye opener:) Nice to see someone else doing something similar:)

  3. Peggi--These are fantastic. So enjoy your posts and appreciate you sharing the great work, and tips and ideas. Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. I love all these figure pieces. Thank you for sharing these!! Miss you. Carolyn

  5. Taking Marks workshop in Scottsdale this week- so good to read about your experience here! Lifelong learning- gotta love it!