We met on a Monday morning at Camille's studio in Petaluma. Camille's work was familiar to me and I had known of her fantastic sense of color for many years, but it was only last summer spending time on Cape Cod that her mentor and teacher Henry Hensche and the connection to him became clear to me. Camille shared with us how studying with him really changed her direction as an artist and ignited her passion for color. It ultimately led her to move from a career as an illustrator to enjoying this long-standing success as a Plein Air Colorist.
"I care about the effect of light" she explained and "I'm teaching you how to paint the color of air"
After an introduction to how Camille got to where she is and what she learned from Hensche we moved outside.
There we would continue learning more about how to exaggerate the effect of light by taking on the colored block exercise. We watched Camille do a demo using only a palette knife to mix and lay down her color. She uses mostly gesso board and started with 6 colors; a warm and cool each, of yellow, red and blue.
The trick was to exaggerate how light would affect a color and compare one colored area with the one next to it, making sure to keep each color block different and remembering how warm sunlight makes a color in light. I was surprised at how freeing this exercise was for me! A big part of it I feel was due to the fact that I was using the palette knife. Something I've never quite attempted and I loved the feeling of smearing on the paint as we remembered to work efficiently in laying down the paint.
This was my first attempt. Three blocks in sun-light, a white, blue and red block. Looking at this photo the colors seem a little funky, but it's a start and the goal was to show the effect of light, not necessarily the right local color. The weather kept changing. We went from sunny to cloudy and back again, so we would have to switch between our sunny and cloudy pieces to be able to paint what we were actually looking at:)
Below is my gray day colored blocks.
The last one is another example of the blocks on a cloudy day and I liked my application with the palette knife better. It was a challenge to be able to hold the palette knife at just the right angle to get the paint down and I found myself needing to keep my work high enough on my easel when holding the knife vertically .
Some Great Words to Remember:
Black in sunlight is lighter than white in shadow.
Start with one color and then have everything relate to that first color.
Try to keep each color different from the other.
On a gray day, a warm sky makes the light area look cooler.
A Light area is warm in sun.
A Light area is cool on a gray day.
These are Camille's blocks. The one in sun-light is on the left and the one with cool light is on the right. It is really clear which one is which!
Great first day and I enjoyed this absolute treat, courtesy my husband and Camille's great exercises.
My Favorite Camille quote:
"It's easy to tame a stallion.....It's hard to bring a dead horse back to life."