March 20, 2016

Daniel Gerhartz Workshop - Day 5

So, sorrow of sorrows, the last day of our workshop has finally come. The day I'd been dreading.

On this last day Dan had us paint one setup for the entire day, or around 6 hours. Each day prior to this we essentially had just concentrated on portraits with basically only a little regard to supporting environment. In this case Dan had taken some time prior to our arrival to set up a more involved design. While we were there he moved things, changed and added things, pulling from his extensive collection of props, furniture, fabric, etc,  from around his studio until he felt that he had come up with something that complimented the model and that had lent a kind of narrative quality to the setup.
This was a lot of fun and it gave me many great ideas for future paintings.

Some personal reflections on my experience of this workshop.

Full disclosure, this workshop for me was a bucket-list experience, I'm a big fan of Daniel's work. Not all of it mind you. Dan's subject matter can veer into the sentimental and to me, sometimes the color can go to the overly sweet or appear Thomas Kinkade-ish. This is not a criticism. Far be it from me to critique Dan Gerhartz. Even in the pieces of Dan's that I've seen that might fall into this category there is great merit and remarkable things to admire and take note of, if one has an open mind.

I think when Dan is "on" there are few that can match his chosen bravura/alla prima style or his grasp of light and color combined with his sense of composition and design and his strength in drawing. I could go on. He really has it all.

But in terms of the actual workshop experience Dan and Jennifer set the bar extremely high. Yes as workshops go it ain't cheap, but it is most definitely worth every penny, in terms of what you get back. Dan is a very giving and open teacher. There isn't a trace of guile or pretense or holding back of information with him. From his books, his instructional videos, and now after meeting him I feel that he is one of the most genuine people that you might ever want to know or meet, and that is refreshing. The degree of hospitality, warmth, and welcoming that both he and Jennifer show to all the attendees is very special, to say the least. Also, for all the praise and adulation that Dan consistently gets he remains an extremely humble and grateful man. 

Which brings me to one last thing that comes through clearly with Dan. That being that he is a person of faith. Dan has a profound sense of gratitude that bubbles over and once or twice during the workshop he would share his thoughts on gratitude to the One that is the ultimate source of beauty that he feels so compelled to express and share in a world where far too much darkness exists. I'm personally with him there. There is enough darkness in the world, and there are more than enough people that choose to represent it in their art. We are constantly bombarded with negativity and it seems you can't get away from it. Let there be at least some artists that still point to something more noble, higher, and greater than themselves.  
When Dan expresses his faith he is never obnoxious and he isn't proselytizing. People love his artwork and want to know what motivates him, and so he shares that motivation clearly but graciously. And unless you happen to be a person that is devoid of a generous spirit, or are among the seemingly increasing number of people that are always looking to be offended, in which case this workshop is not for you, I think it is virtually impossible to be offended, given Dan's caring and sensitive nature.

I could say lots more, but I hope my enthusiasm and high praise of this workshop experience comes through to which others might be considering applying.

Happy painting!

March 18, 2016

Daniel Gerhartz Workshop - Days 3 & 4

Days 3 consisted of Daniel doing another one of his informative and insightful, not to mention stunning, demos. The young lady he used for this demo was one I had recalled seeing before that had recently been published for the cover of one of the big oil painting associations conferences.  Can't recall which one. As Dan does his demo he gives a blow-by-blow of everything he is doing and thinking, which is helpful. When you combine good teaching with expert hands on help the concepts start to take hold,  little by little. 

The model our group got to paint in the afternoon was the one that Dan used for his demo on the first day. A very lovely young lady with porcelain skin that had many very subtle hues of color cast throughout her features. Today I felt as if at least some of the things that Dan was attempting to impart to us were starting to sink in. Typically the paintings one does at a workshop are not the best. They're usually kind of crude, at least for me, and that's mainly because you're trying to work in a new way that you're not familiar with. Not to mention maybe feeling a little anxious and overwhelmed from witnessing a living master do his thing and then trying to follow that up with your own feeble attempt. Even though by this third day I felt that I was starting to see improvement and getting a better understanding of some of the concepts that Dan kept repeating I don't think I'll be sharing my efforts here. As I said they are rough and I feel that they don't necessarily reflect well on either myself or the teacher.

That "living master" moniker by the way is no joke. What Dan does with a brush, Beethoven does with music. It's truly a sight to behold.

Day 4 was a really great day. We painted 2 models today. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Dan is good about getting around the whole group and commenting on and laying down a few strokes of your painting to point out where your painting might need help or to try to illustrate some of the concepts that he talks about and where they could be incorporated. He usually gets around to each person twice during each session with the model, so you never felt ignored.
I really was starting to feel some good progress today. Dan is positive and generally complimentary to everyone, no matter their level of experience and it's a great thing, but he combines his encouragement with good solid criticism that rings true when you hear it. Mostly as I'd mentioned  before, he's showing you where your paintings might improve rather than telling you what you are doing wrong.

The best part of all today though was the fact that Dan and Jennifer invited the entire group over to their amazing, lovely, and warm home for dinner and to meet their family, including Dan's kids, his mom, and Jennifer's parents, all of whom are lovely people. Their home as I said is amazing. Every corner in every room has somethings beautiful and interesting to look at and every wall has several of Dan's stunning paintings hanging. It's like being in a top notch art gallery. Jennifer whipped up an amazing dinner, complete with adult beverages---and dessert! Amazing! I know I keep saying that but I don't know what else to say and am at a loss to describe the whole thing.

March 16, 2016

Daniel Gerhartz Workshop - Day 2

Note: I'm a day late in posting. I was extremely exhausted after the second day because I barely slept the night before, being overly-stimulated from all the great artwork I was privy to and all the great information and just the experience in general. So sue me.

Today, our second day, consisted of Dan using the morning to talk about the works of past masters and what we might glean by studying their work. He talked about the value of doing master copies, in order to learn and problem solve. I'm personally a big believer of doing these kinds of exercises. I've done some in the past and intend to do it more from time to time. The great painters of the past are our teachers. They are there and they are available for us to learn from. Dan talked about how, if you really appreciate how an artist does something well, look to that artist and try to copy them.
When talking about all these great artists Dan made use of his computer hooked up to a pretty large monitor which made the images easy to see and discuss. He also showed us many examples of his own work and talked some about his process of doing larger scale paintings meant for his galleries.
He talked about the use of photographs for his paintings and their limitations. Essentially, the way he explained it is that he will often set up his model for, let's say, a pretty involved composition that takes place outdoors, take some photographs of the setup, go back to his studio and work out the composition and design and pretty much all the essential elements onto his canvas. Then, now that he's ready to go he will bring the model back on subsequent days so that he can paint her from life outdoors without wasting time, in order to capture the essential qualities of light that just cannot be derived from copying a photograph or looking at a computer monitor.

Dan is amazingly prolific. The amount of work he seems to put out is beyond me. And these are not teeny tiny works. Not that he does only large works. But what he can accomplish, and has accomplished is amazing and truly jaw-dropping.

In the afternoon we had our second turn to do another portrait. Again we had great models. If I didn't mention it on day one, Dan had a nice way of getting 14 artists to share the studio space and not get in each others way or fight over space. He did something I wish more workshop instructors would do. He assigned each artist a spot with a designated number, and after each time with a new model we would move one spot to the right. That way everyone got a fair shot at a decent view of the model. If you're a workshop veteran you know how people get really territorial and love to come early and fight over the best spots, leaving the shyer or less assertive (or less savvy) people in the lurches. This eliminates that kind of unfortunate scenario, which is great. He uses 2 models at once and divides a rather large model stand in half with a different setup, lighting, and model on each side. Clever I'd say!

March 14, 2016

Daniel Gerhartz Workshop

Day one

So one thing I have to say and apologize for right off the bat is that I am not able to post any of the amazing artwork that Dan has hanging in his studio, and there is a lot of it. His work is incredible and really has to be seen in person to be appreciated fully. He asked that we not post any pictures of his work for the benefit of his galleries and so I wanted to respect that.

Dan's studio is in Kewaskum Wisconsin. It sits near the rear of of 20 acres of heavily wooded property. It's a gorgeous and amazing studio. Here are a few shots of the inside.

As the first photo shows, today was a very overcast and foggy, which really kind of gave the place an  interesting sense of mystery, at least today that is. I know it sounds sappy and maybe a little fan-boyish, but the place really does have a kind of magical feel to it. There is amazing detail in the architecture and the surrounding landscaping. He really spared no expense to make it as special of a place as he could, and it truly is.

Dan has an amazing collection of objects, props, fabrics, furniture, that he has collected over the years and you can find interesting and beautiful artifacts in nearly every corner of the studio. Most of which eventually find their way into one of Dan's paintings. 

This first day started out with Dan telling us about his philosophy toward painting, fielding questions, and then doing a roughly 3 hour demo. I wish I could show you the demo. it was stunning. 
After lunch it was our turn. Dan had 2 great models lined up. Much of Dan's emphasis on this first day had to do with maintaining structure through tight value control and accurate observation of edge relationships. Another point that he emphasized often was turning form through shifts in temperature. This is long to describe but is better understood through a demo which Dan would point out frequently when he did his demo.
Dan was very patient taking and answering many questions thrown at him throughout his demo.

One of the big things that I personally have wanted to get a better feel for, is a little better handle on application of paint, as simple as that sounds. After today I feel like I'm already making some positive strides in this aspect of my painting.

Day one for me did in no way disappoint.

March 01, 2016


Doing some things with the background for fun. I read somewhere recently that backgrounds are the punishment for painting being so much fun.

12 x 16 - Oil on Canvas