Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jeff Legg In Joplin...

The "Supposedly Unfinished" Canvas
By Jeff Legg 16x20

As promised here is the visual of Jeff's workshop. I will begin by explaining his basic setup and composition and then progress to the paint color and paint quality.
Several years ago Jeff and I were both invited to a show in Joplin Mo. (his hometown) He was rather surprised that I painted so well for a beginner....the paintings for the majority were painted from life. He told me later that if I would paint from life, take my time if I needed to and put miles on the brush I would become the painter I was meant to be.
Those three things are pretty much his standard for painting. He often tells his students to just stop and really look at what they are painting and figure out how to paint it. I have told my students and myself the same!
He starts with a smooth linen panel (16x20) in the demo....toned with raw umber...sometimes mixed with Ultramarine Deep or Ivory Black. The undertone is rather dark but necessary for the drama of this style of painting. The paint is applied with a loose feel that lends itself to the atmosphere of the setup.
The composition is of itself a beautiful thing to see.....with the rhythm of music...staccato notes and adagios and passages of sotto voce and legato all translated in paint to canvas. He may take days to arrange a still life (I completely understand this myself) and the effort is well worth it as you can see be the photos.
He will then begin massing in large shapes PLUS their shadow shapes with raw umber and a little black mixed with his preferred medium. Maroger is what he has used for years but since switching part time to alkyd paints he also uses Liquin.
Here is where I get sold..haha! I never used Maroger with much success nor did I use Ivory Black or Raw Umber or Prussian Blue...all of which Jeff uses. I discovered I wasn't handling them quite right and am now quite happy to use them. Some of this color usage has to do with whether you paint like the Old Masters or the Impressionists....I am still open to anything that will work for me.....but I must say I have been getting some nice effects with using them.
After massing in the large abstract shapes into a pleasing design on the canvas....he then "Goes for the jugular" as he likes to say. Mixing up a puddle of paint the color and brilliance of the melon he applies a deft stroke in the exact shape of the small wedge to the canvas...this is the focal point. Over the next 2 hours or so we watched a painting come to life and appear to be almost done. Jeff stated that he would refine the painting a few more times before it was finished.
If you have any questions feel free to ask I will answer what I can.
Until tomorrow,


Erika Nelson said...

Bless you and your generous spirit Theresa. So wonderful of you to share. So does he apply highlights with a knife? Or how does he? Did he use knife along the lighter to lightest part of vase so it looks textured and immpasto? What does he think the aura does? Why did he call the watermelon the jugular ... I would have thought that applies to the focal point, but maybe he was referring to the warmth that gives the focal point life? Ummm that's muy lovely! And you're a doll! xox

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Theresa, I know he says that is unfinished, but I kind of like it the way it is.
Thanks for sharing all that info.

I like that "Go for the jugular" phrase.

Kim VanDerhoek said...

The photo series of his process were wonderful to see! Now that I know he works on a dark toned panel and masses everything in using a dark color I can see how his paintings start off with so much drama. i can see that he used his palette knife to put in the stem. I've never had the opportunity to see his work in person, does he use his palette knife very much? Your photo gave me the closest view of his painting I've been able to see. I love his think paint on the front of the vase, is that something he would leave in or would he smooth it out later?

How does he light his still life?

Thanks for sharing this! How I wish I could have been there to see him work!

Carol Schiff Studio said...

Workshops are so rewarding, hard work and sometimes frustrating. I am in one this weekend with Gay Faulkenberry, who paints totally opposite of Jeff! Thank you for posting this, it's all about gathering information and acting on it!

Theresa Rankin said...

Hello Erika most highlights are applied with a knife and then manipulated on the edges with a brush.
The vase was painted in with very thick brushwork and paint and the smoothed...a highlight was added with a knife and then worked with brush some on the edges... the final highlight is a dab with the knife. The blue in the vase was applied and dragged with the knife.
The aura around the focal point and often the secondary point of interest indicates air, atmosphere or space. When you really look at these setups from life you can see the aura of color surrounding the item.
The jugular refers to the focal jump in and get right down to business rather than dancing around painting the less important elements.

Theresa Rankin said...

Hi Frank...I agree Jeff and I have gone back and forth over the degree of finishing...I am like you, I like a looser version and I like it just the way it is!! Jeff will work on it some more and it will still be gorgeous. He has started leaving much of the background untouched along with the leaves and the outer perimeter of the painting. I learn from him every time we get to visit!!

Theresa Rankin said...

Hello Kim..thank you it was a bit of work putting it all together...I am really happy if it helps! You are correct about the dark background for drama and the palette knife for the stem. The stem was also additionally painted with a few strokes of the brush. He uses his palette knife more than I thought..along with manipulating the paint with a brush..not the whole knife stroke ...just parts of it.
For the most part, to my knowledge the vase was finished....he may have worked on it some more when he got back to the studio.
Here is the great thing about these still life's and how they are setup....I will be posting on the next blog about the lighting as I believe this is key.
I wish you could have been there also but he gives workshops all over the country. Joplin, Mo. is his hometown so we get to see him in his environment and pretty relaxed.

Theresa Rankin said...

Hi Carol....Gay Oklahoma gal!! You are a lucky girl...she has a wonderful loose style...yes very different from Jeff's until you see some of his plein air and current work...very loose. It is absolutely all about gathering information and applying it to your style! Have a great time at the workshop...wish I could be there!!

Erika Nelson said...

Thanks Theresa, what are you painting today? Ok another question, is there a specific formula for the aura?

Blair said...

Thank you for posting this, Theresa. I value the advice of the "three things"; it says it all. You have been very generous in sharing this.

Theresa Rankin said...

I am painting a small glass bottle on a small canvas....getting some small works done for the show, I got your email and have your address recorded. I just got a a call from the director at SPIVA...they needed 5 jpegs for the invites...otherwise I wouldn't be on here!
The roughly the color of whatever it is mixed with some medium to a rather thin consistency and then worked out from the subject to a thin glow where the brightest light would be reflecting it back into the air. Make sense?? I will try to explain better if needed.

Theresa Rankin said...

Thank you, Blair and you are certainly welcome! I can give information out until I am blue in the face..LOL! But unless one utilizes those three things it won't just magically happen....there is no magic formula, brush or secret. I am glad you see work will be the better for it!

Barbara M. said...

Hi Theresa,

What a wonderful and generous demo (demonstration). I am so impressed with you. How lush and exciting the technique is. As an acrylic painter I stand in awe.

It looks like you all had a great time together too -- which makes the whole experience even more meaningful.

Thanks for your superb explanations too.


Theresa Rankin said...

Yes Barbara we had a great time!! I rather like this technique!!
Thank you...I am really glad it reads well!