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.