Phil Starke Studio Newsletter

APRIL 2015  ✦

Arizona Garden - oil

Arizona Garden - oil


I started the month going to Dallas, Texas and teaching a workshop for the Outdoor Painters society. It was a good group, fun to work with. We painted at a farm in Rockwall, TX complete with 2 burros that kept us company and devoured Susan Temple Neumann's painting and palette.

From there I went to Dallas and judged the annual Plein Air Southwest Salon at the Southwest Gallery.

It was a very strong show, a lot of good pieces.  Jason Sacran won 1st place with Between

Nancy Boren won an award with Sunny Delight


Ned Mueller won with Nash's Farm


Check out all the winners at show at OPS is a great group of artsists. I enjoyed getting to know everyone.

At the end of April I will be teaching an outdoor workshop In Overland Park KS for the Stems Plein Air Event in May, we'll be painting at the Overland Park Arboretum as well as some surrounding farms.

From there I will be teaching a workshop at the Wichita Art Center. I look forward to seeing everyone again in Wichita.

The Settlers West Summer Show is on May 2. the piece at the top of the letter, Ranch near Buffalo Valley will be in the show. May 2 is before Tucson starts heating up so its a good time to visit and see the show.

Phil Starke
Phil Starke Studio


When we think of contrasts in painting what comes to mind is dark and light value contrast, or cool and warm color temperature contrast, or the contrast of hard and soft edges.

A real important contrast is thick and thin paint. The thickness of the paint, when we apply it to the canvas, goes a long way to suggest form and depth as well as enhance sunlight and shadow contrast.

When we mix a color for a sunlit area the value and the color temperature is really impacted when we use thicker paint. I can mix a color for a light area and if it's not thick enough it won't have the impact of sunlight, even if I mix the right temperature and value. Thicker paint stands out more and looks lighter than thin paint.

As a learning tool, thick paint forces you to simplify (it's hard to get too detailed with a brush full of paint), and helps to understand color better. It's easier to understand the impact of a color with thicker paint.

Just like watercolor is designed for transparent washes, oil paint is designed for thick opaque brush strokes.

The painting below is a detail from a painting from the Teton Mountains. All the paint is thick but the light areas are thicker so they stand out from the darks. The thicker paint also makes the brushstrokes more important. I'm thinking about mass and value more than detail or trying to render objects.

This is a detail from a John Carlson painting. The darks seem to recede from the thicker lights. The stronger colors have more impact because of their thickness.

I painted this in southern Utah and used the thicker paint to show more form. The brushstrokes follow the shape of the trees and hills to accentuate their shape or direction. This also helps to keep things simple. When using photographs to paint from, it's more effective to think in terms of the light brushstrokes following the form, it keeps me from being too literal with photos.

At first it can be hard to paint thick enough. Our tendency is to paint thin if we're unsure, so use a palette knife or painting knife to mix your paint. It's hard to mix thin paint with a palette knife.

Ash Can School of Painting

About 1900, a group of Realist artists set themselves apart from and challenged the American Impressionists and Academics. The most extensively trained member of this group was Robert Henri (1865–1929), who had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1886 to 1888 under Thomas Anshutz (1851–1912). Anshutz had himself studied at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1876 to 1882 with Thomas Eakins, who had defied Victorian decorum in his teaching principles and in his boldly realistic paintings. Eakins would become the lodestar to Henri and his associates. After spending the years from 1888 to 1891 working at the Académie Julian in Paris, Henri taught at the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia and gave private art classes in and around that city and, during return visits to France, in and around Paris. Beginning in 1892, Henri also became the mentor to four Philadelphia illustrators—William Glackens (1870–1938), George Luks (1866–1933), Everett Shinn (1876–1953), and John Sloan (1871–1951)—who worked together at several local newspapers and gathered to study, share studios, and travel. Between late 1896 and 1904, they all moved to New York, where Henri himself settled in 1900. Henri and his former-Philadelphia associates comprised the first generation of what came to be known as the Ashcan School. A second generation consisted of Henri's New York students, of whom George Bellows (1882–1925) was the most devoted.

Although the Ashcan artists were not an organized "school" and espoused somewhat varied styles and subjects, they were all urban Realists who supported Henri's credo—"art for life's sake," rather than "art for art's sake." They also presented their works in several important early twentieth-century New York exhibitions, including a group show at the National Arts Club in 1904; the landmark show of The Eight at Macbeth Galleries in February 1908, which included the five senior Ashcan School painters along with Ernest Lawson (1873–1939), Maurice Prendergast (1858–1924), and Arthur B. Davies (1862–1928); the Exhibition of Independent Artists in 1910; and the Armory Show—an immense display dominated by modern European art—in 1913.

In their paintings as in their illustrations, etchings, and lithographs, Henri and his fellow Ashcan artists concentrated on portraying New York's vitality and recording its seamy side, keeping a keen eye on current events and their era's social and political rhetoric. Stylistically, they depended upon the dark palette and gestural brushwork of Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals, Francisco de Goya, Honoré Daumier, and recent Realists such as Wilhelm Leibl, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas.

H. Barbara Weinberg
Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Time to Register for The New York City Workshop

A Bonus has been added to this year's workshop:  A Special FREE Bonus Package Of 4 Videos Will Be Handed Out At The End Of The Workshop. Each Video Will Address Different Elements Of Landscape And Plein Air Painting To Help With Further Study Following The Workshop. This Video Package Has A Value Of $200 But Will Be FREE To Participating Students Of This Workshop.

Details are up for the 2015 New York Central Park Workshop.  The workshop has been schedule for Sept. 3, 4, 5, 6, 2015.  I've added a fourth day to the workshop with the first day being a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we will study the plein air and studio works of John Singer Sargent, Willard Metcalf, Corot, American and French impressionists. The goal at the museum is to glean some understanding of how these painters simplified, used values and broken color. There's a lot to learn at the Met so it's a great place to start.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will be painting in beautiful Central Park. The subject matter is breathtaking with gardens, lakes, flowers and endless trees and figures. The quality of light is beautiful, whether it's sunny or cloudy.  All the details are on the New York Workshops here:  New York Central Park Workshop


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Exhibitions & Gallery Shows

Settlers West Summer Show
May 2, 2015

Settlers West Gallery
Tucson, AZ

Grapevine Gallery Annual Drunch
June, 2015
Oklahoma City, OK

Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale
September 21 - 28, 2015
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Cody, WY

Traveling The West Art Show
October 22 - 24, 2015
Southwest Gallery
Dallas, TX


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