Sunday, November 20, 2011

Studio Workshop: The Imagined Landscape Part 1

An Imagined Landscape by Erik Koeppel   
Some students got together to hire Lauren and I for some studio landscape painting lessons. We both do invented/imagined landscapes all the time, and thought it would be fun to teach the big principles of landscape painting by having the students work from their imaginations by our instructions. I've always felt that working from the mind without references is a great way of testing your knowledge of a subject. After developing a body of guiding principles in the studio, you can take what you learn outdoors with a more clear understanding of what you're seeing. Likewise, the studies you do outdoors will enhance your imagined work.

Here's the schedule:
Day 1 (today):
-Erik taught Tree Drawing Principles
-Lauren demonstrated Sky Painting Principles with the transition of land from background to foreground, while the class follows along. 
-Homework: Practice Tree Drawing, and sketch an invented tree into the sky painting
Day 2 week later
-Erik will demonstrate the principles of Tree Painting by painting a tree into the sky composition from Day 1. The class will add their trees too. 
-Lauren will demonstrate a new Sun Painting while everybody follows along.
Day 3 week later
We'll both teach glazing, highlighting, and general re-working on the two paintings, and propose a method for continuing this process for a resolved multi-layered painting.

Here are some pictures from today:
Erik's Imagined Tree

Student Imagined Tree

Student Imagined Tree

Discussion of Harmonic Proportions within the Tree, distribution of foliage, and gesture.

Discussion of Tree Design and principles for subdividing the greater masses

Principles for a sculptural description of the main trunks and branch connections, and 'thinking in space'

We observed all of these principles in master drawings (Durand, Claude, Constable, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, etc.)
Then Lauren began the Sky painting:
Student in progress, and Lauren demonsrating

Lauren Demonstrating

Student in progress

Student near completion of day 1

another student near completion

It was a busy day, but everyone was very happy to use their imaginations combined with solid principles for a lovely result. We're all excited to add trees into these paintings, and our hope is that the knowledge acquired in the studio will be very helpful in accurately observing the complex and ever changing subjects we find painting outdoors.

Thank you for reading.


  1. What a wonderful workshop! Wish I had been there!
    Best to you
    Lorna Allan

  2. Thank you both, and Lorna, I hope you'll join us someday.

  3. I would so love to do that Erik.