Workshop Recap: Strait Color with Randall Sexton

Monday, June 20, 2016

Was excited to take Randy Sexton's workshop "Strait Color," hosted by Arts Benicia, last month. I've been a big fan of his work, plus it was an excuse to explore a new part of the Bay Area.

Randy began the class with a demo of a building in Benicia.

He asked us to concentrate on simplifying shapes into just two values, to start. Painting outdoors, he noted, is like a shorthand language -- it's important to step back and see what works from a distance.

After his demo, we chose locations around the Benicia waterfront to set up and paint. I decided to try a challenging scene of boats and cranes, with Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oils. This was my first time using them for plein air painting. My Strada easel held up well, though the gusty winds meant I had to clamp or secure everything very carefully.

My verdict? I think I could have brightened my colors a bit. I'm happy with the blending on the clouds, which incidentally chased the sun all afternoon and made it difficult to figure out light and shadow.

Benicia, CA - work in progress

The next day, we visited Randy's studio in Crockett, a few miles away. We painted an urban scene this time, and then gathered for a critique and another demo. It was a hot day, so I found that my paints were getting thick as the hours wore on. (Still figuring out how to handle these water-mixable oils!)

I'm fairly happy with the result, especially the composition. The only part I couldn't do on location was the lettering on the sign; I ended up doing that with an oil-based pencil later when I touched up the painting in the studio.

Downtown Crockett, CA: work in progress

Oddly I find oils/acrylics difficult to paint with outdoors -- they are much more forgiving than watercolors, but it means I have to think backward. With watercolor I think about which parts of the page I need to leave blank, but with oils the darks generally go on first.

I'll just have to keep on practicing with both!

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  1. I love your energy and your work, too! What a great boost of energy your blog gave me this morning! Well done on those plein air paintings, Suma... you are indefatigable ;D.

  2. Looks like a good workshop! I don't think I would be happy going back and forth since the thinking process is so different.