Tornados in Liberace Workshop

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Tropical Storm Debbie rolls over the Southern Atelier.

Unfortunately for me the next day was a bad day.  I don’t know why, but I could feel it before it happened.  I tried overcompensating, by getting to the studio early, but I ended up taking a different route to get there and was exactly on time.

(By the way – I never leave home without either my navigation system or my iPad.  It’s so great when you are in an unfamiliar city.  You never need to look at a map or figure out how to go someplace or explain to your husband why your way is a better way to go than his.  I highly recommend a navigation system or a verbal turn by turn directions from the ipad or iphone.  It should be as much of a priority to bring as a toothbrush in your suitcase!)

I digress – When I arrived at the studio there were only 3 cars there.  Did I mention there were 31 people in the class?  Did I mention I got there exactly at 9:00AM when the workshop was supposed to start that day?  Every workshop has its own unique personality.  (Remember in an earlier post I walked into Aaron Westerberg’s class only a few minutes late and they had already started the lecture and everyone was there, except me of course.)  Not only was it raining hard, but we were under a tornado watch.  The studio where Rob’s workshop was held is in an industrial park and it was a tin building with a tin roof.  There are no basements in Florida.

The studio is a large room with easels set up in a horse shoe around 2 model stations on either end of the horse shoe. The first couple of days, my easel was in a great location just in front and to the side of the model.

The first couple of days when I was at a stand up easel and Rob was helping me.

The following day, we played the easel lottery again because yesterday’s lottery horse winners complained.    For those of you who don’t know what a “horse” is; it’s an easel also known as bench easel.  It is literally a short easel with a bench attached to it.  You straddle the bench or horse when you paint.   One of the first workshops I ever did (before I started writing this blog) was a Jeremy Lipking workshop at his Angora Hills studio.  Surprisingly this very tall man worked on a bench easel.  This is what horse or bench easels looks like:

A bench or a horse easel in the class.

I felt bad for the people who drew the horse or bench easels.  However, I wondered if it might be nice to sit instead of stand all day as i usually do.  So, as my luck or lack of luck of the day would have it, the new number I drew was for a horse.  This was not just a horse I drew; it was the very last horse against the wall.  It was also so close to the model, I could only see her bottom half, which was a little weird for me.  I had to scoot back to the end of my horse and lean back just so I could look at her entire body all at once.  There were so many easels behind me and to the side of me that I couldn’t move away from my easel and gain perspective from a distance every 20 minutes or so like I usually do.  I tried putting the canvas between my knees until I needed to paint her legs and feet, at which point I just turned my painting upside down and tried to paint her legs that way.  I made an awful painting.  Of course when I am flustered no matter what I am sitting on or where I am positioned, my painting will not turn out well.  I also really wanted a nice painting to come out of this workshop because I love Robs work so much, I was hoping a little of his talent would rub off on me.  This was our grand finale painting too.  Unlike the other paintings we painted the same pose for 2 days!  Bummer.


Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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