Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keith Hiscock - Still Life Workshop

This first image is the first painting I did on day one of the workshop. It's not a great photograph because I ran outside and propped it on a wall to shoot it without a tripod etc, so I'd have something to show you. Below are shots from the day.

Keith Hiscock is a very well known Victoria artist. He paints beautiful landscapes and still life pieces. You can find him on Facebook.  This is Keith's quick sketch to place the positive objects in the still life set up. 

 He then switched to the negative space and blocked in a thin layer of a mixed black.

 Keith demonstrated switching back and forth between the positive and negative spaces, helping you to really see, and to start setting up a variety of edges. Hard crisp edges at the focal point and soft or lost edges as you move away from the focal point or blend into the background.

 Here's Kerry Fleetwood, an FCA friend, and a very talented artist, who I painted beside during most of the workshop. As you can see, Kerry was really picking up on everything that Keith was saying. Her paintings were beautiful!

 Artists hard at it. You could have heard a pin drop!

Here's Keith giving Kerry a few pointers.

I learned some great concepts during the weekend, that I feel over time, will make a big difference to my painting technique. Among the many pointers here are a few that particularly spoke to me, for improving my work:

  • when developing the painting, switch back and forth from positive to negative space,  helping you to  form  shapes accurately and to really see. 
  • I found that this push and pull between negative and positive  also allows you to paint back and forth over the edges of negative into positive and vice versa, rather than painting up to the edge of an object, helping to start making decisions on your edges as the painting is in progress.
  • As my painting evolved and I had recorded on canvas the necessary information, Keith encouraged me to stop looking at the set up and focus on the canvas, making decisions as an artist, directing where the painting would go, rather than recording the image. I had all my values down and the placement and composition was where I wanted it, so I needed to stop looking at the set up. This point is going to have a big impact on my painting. I'm one of those who tend to overwork things.
  • At this last stage is where I tried to really focus on edges. Sharp well formed edges at the focal point, soft and lost edges moving away from the focal point. In the case of the leaves in my painting up top, a few leaves were defined and the rest blurred at the edges so they started to disappear. This was really fun for me. I've only been painting in oils for about 6 months, so being able to play with the edges like that is quite exciting.



  1. Je suis certaine que vous allez tirer profit de ce cours... Tout est positif dans la vie, même le négatif vous apporte du positif...
    J'aime beaucoup votre drapé qui se fond avec l'arrière plant... Cela retire la rigidité parfois des natures mortes.
    Vos feuilles effectivement marquées et d'autres vaporeuses apportent une profondeur certaine à votre toile.

  2. Wow, sounds like you had a great time and gathered a lot of knowledge! Your painting turned out great!

  3. You are doing well for only painting for six m onths. It sounds like you found a good instructor too.

  4. Thanks Martine,Janice and Patty. It really was an inspiring weekend, and Keith is a great instructor. He provides a lot of one on one time, zeroing in on your specific needs. Patty I think you misread, I've been painting in OILS for six months, prior to that, I was painting in acrylics.

  5. Really nice, Claire! Thanks for typing up those bullet points from the workshop. I often have to turn away from the setup to get to the "art part." Often feel like I'm cheating somehow but that tendency to be too literal often kills the painting and there's a point where you have to determine what the canvas needs. Love the choices you made here in what to keep crisp and what to soften. It flows.

  6. Great points. Sounds like a good workshop.

  7. Thanks Lorraine and Pam, I was out with some artists from the workshop tonight and we all agreed that we picked up some great pointers from Keith.

  8. Great post Claire...this painting is really beautiful..love the folds in the material as well. Workshops are wonderful..you learn so much from other people. Looking forward to your next piece.

  9. Thanks Hilda, I really enjoyed the workshop and all tips I picked up for improving my work. All of the paintings coming out of the workshop were really well done, and we all exchanged them at the FCA Christmas Party gift exchange the other night. That was fun!