As the year draws to a close I look forward to the summer holiday season and like most people, I guess, we may reflect on the ups and downs of the past year. The upside for me this year was a two month (June / July) working road trip across the States, with the main intention of participating in a painting workshop with the great figurative painter, Kim English.

Based in the historic fishing village of Gloucester, just north of Boston, Massachusetts, the first couple of days in the studio were spent painting models posing in 3 minute sessions, then as a timer sounded we wiped  the result off the canvas ready for another 3 minute session. The purpose of these exercises was to capture the ‘gesture’ of the subject and to consider mass and tone as well as directional line of the figure as opposed to being bogged down with procrasternation and detail.

Unlike longer academic paintings of the nude, our models wore colourful dresses and props often striking  strenuous poses and at times simple poses such as sitting whilst reading a book. Kim really pushed us these first 2 days. We did about 40 or so of these studies and I admit it was quite exhausting. However, the method in this percieved madness had its unexpected rewards, both in technical application and being more intuitive as a painter. Kim knew exactly what he was doing.

The next few days were spent outdoors painting plein air at Rocky Neck, a well established artists colony at Cape Ann, as well as at Manchester By The Sea. Kim did a couple of plein air demos which showcased his natural flare for both dynamic and inventive compositions as well as his brilliant use of light. A dinner party was held after the workshop as I bid farewell to my fellow students and a great tutor and gentleman, Kim English.

After Boston, I flew to Los Angeles , hired a car and drove up and down the west coast of California for 6 weeks, from San Francisco down to San Diego in search of painting spots. Of course, I painted the ‘usual suspects’ from Heisler Park to Laguna beach and  Crystal Cove as so many artists have done in the past, and lot of them do it so well,  setting the bar so high that it can be both discouraging , yet inspiring at the same time.