Monday, June 6, 2016


I just returned from a painting workshop (May 19-22, 2016) in Santa Cruz, taught by the trio of John Crump, Richard Robinson, and Scott Hamill. John is New Zealand's best plein air oil painter. I've wanted to take a workshop with him for a long time, and own all of his DVDs. It was a bonus having the others teaching at the same time.

The first thing that I learned by going to this workshop was: Always make sure your driver's license hasn't expired before you go out of state and try to rent a car.  I ended up having to take an Uber car to the AirBnB place I was staying, and begged rides from other workshop attendees (thanks, Mireille, Mary Jo and Reiko!). Scott, John, and Richard were kind enough to pick me up for the first day's painting at Shark Fin Cove. I'd never painted along any coast before, so I was pretty anxious to begin.

The workshop started on Thursday, but I arrived on Tuesday, because I wanted to have a day to settle in, buy any extra art supplies I might need (like solvent and paper towels), and maybe do a painting or two. Unfortunately I was slightly hobbled by the whole "no car" thing, so I couldn't go too far. Luckily, Mission Santa Cruz was about a 10 minute walk away.

Mission Santa Cruz 9x12"
John did a demo at a local art supply store on Tuesday afternoon, and Richard did one on Wednesday.
John Crump painting demo at Lenz Arts in Santa Cruz, CA
Richard Robinson painting demo at Lenz Arts in Santa Cruz,CA

I thought I'd watch Scott paint his demo on the first morning at Shark Fin Cove, since he decided to paint the view that attracted me. Unfortunately, by the time he finished, the light had changed too much; I wasn't interested in painting it any more.

Scott Hamill demo at Shark Fin Cove
Instead, I painted a view through a hole in the rocks, where some algae was glowing in the sunlight. Richard came over as I was finishing, and took a photo of me on location.

Painting at Shark Fin Cove

Shark Fin Cove, Afternoon 9x12"
Day two was at Garapatta State Park near Carmel. This time, I set up to paint right next to Richard while he demoed; I could listen to him and take the occasional photo of his progress while working on my own canvas.
Richard Robinson, Garapatta demo
My painting Garapatta State Park, Morning 9x12"
Scott was off somewhere else doing his demo painting, and I didn't get a picture of it. John painted nearby; I got a photo of his finished painting.
John Crump, Garapatta demo
My afternoon painting was less successful. I was doing a backlit painting of some rocks, but the clouds came in and I lost my light. Plus, I wasn't too thrilled with it to begin with.
My attempt to paint in the afternoon (thanks, Scott, for taking the photo)
Day Three was at Panther Beach. I didn't paint along that morning; I watched John paint his demo instead, so I might actually learn something (I couldn't concentrate on my own painting and learn from Richard at the same time on the previous day). I wanted to buy this one, but another student got it before I opened my mouth.
John Crump's demo at Panther Beach
After John finished, I walked out onto the cliffs where I set up to work. I even caught sight of a whale swimming past. Richard thought I was too hard on myself for hating this one. (Frank: "It's lousy." Richard: "Compared to what?" Frank: "Compared to art.") I was very disappointed with my painting, but I can use it as a color study for a larger painting if I want to. Unlikely, but anything's possible.
Panther Beach, afternoon 9x12"
Day four was held at Moss Landing, where a bunch of boats were in for repair. I set up to paint a boat called Jennie Rose, which happened to be the same boat that Richard and Scott put in their paintings. Once again, I took photos of Richard's every so often; he was set up just to the left and in front of me.

Richard Robinson demo of the Jennie Rose
My painting, Jennie Rose 9x12"
I started another study of a small boat, but didn't finish it, because I wasn't happy with the way it was headed (that seems to have been a trend this week with afternoon paintings). I wasn't the only one unhappy with the afternoon's painting. John scraped down two of his because he didn't like the way they were going.
My afternoon small boat study 9x12"
John Crump's afternoon painting in progress, just before he scraped it down.
I got the guys to sign my easel and had a photo made with the trio before we all packed up for the day and got dinner at a local fish restaurant. Luckily for my vegetarian self, they had a really good roasted artichoke, onion rings, and beer. I can never think of artichokes without saying the line from the Little Rascals, "It mighta choked Artie, but it ain't gonna choke Stymie." I clearly had a serious addiction to TV as a kid.

Robinson, Hamill, Crump, and Gabriel
I bought a painting from each of the guys. John forgot to bring his to the last day of classes, and so he and Richard delivered it on Monday, as I had no car. I pointed out to John that he'd forgotten to sign it! I grabbed my gear, and he quickly remedied that.

John Crump signs the painting I bought from him.
Richard's was still wet, so I don't have it yet. Scott is finishing a larger studio painting based on the one I bought from him, the demo he painted on the first day. So far, I've bought at least one painting from each of the people whose workshops I've attended. A good way to build a collection.

I called another Uber car to take me to the airport, and watched the driver scrape hell out of his rear hubcap as he pulled to the curb to pick me up, then straighten out and scrape hell out of his front hubcap. Oh... then he backed up and I had to holler "Stop!" before he bumped into another curb. He didn't inspire confidence. I got to the airport early enough so that I had some time to scribble a few drawings in my sketchbook as the disembodied voice over the loudspeaker called for stragglers to get to their flights.

sketchbook scribbling