2.10.2009

Kenn Backhaus Demo and Critique

Sunday in Chadds Ford brought a gratis demo by Kenn Backhaus. He painted the Chad House and the Spring House. It was muddy and windy, but it was all worth it. I was glad to see him with an EasyL like mine. Viewing so many oils in the exhibit the night before and witnessing Backhaus' demo really made me itch to get mine out for the season.

Click on each photo for an enlargement.


Rapt audience...

Not a believer in a standard tint to a canvas, here he is wiping in an underpainting using browns, greens, and reds...


Rendering the scene using MY pencil...


His workhorse brush is a #8 Filbert. First stopping point with the subject in the background...


When he was discussing his composition, he talked about details he would take liberty on, especially when en plein air. For commissions, which I believe he finds confining, so he does them rarely, he is much more specific, of course. In the above scene, he really liked the pine tree across the lawn from the house, but ultimately decided to edit it out, perhaps coming back another day to paint it.

His palette was comprised of cad lemon, cad yellow lt, raw sienna, permanent rose, alizerin crimson, ultramarine blue, and ivory black along with titanium white. Although he experiments with mediums in the studio, he doesn't use any outdoors. Instead, he thins when needed with OMS and considers the underpainting's wetness to contribute a lot.



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Linen support is Claessens 15...

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Another stopping point...


Note that he opted out of the window on the Spring House, because he felt that detail would detract from the focal point, which is the eave and far corner of the Chad House. He was very deliberate in developing those edges. He left off the Spring House chimney as well. Including it would have placed it too close to the edge.

The sun began to peek around the tree and illuminate his palette, so he clipped a car visor around the easel.

Many strokes were made with an upside down brush. Here he is putting in the bare trees behind the house.


Excuse the wind in the following videos...
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Here he talks about time and extra details, to include him adding bright highlights he uncovers over the course of him painting. I also show the mud we were dealing with in that juicy parking lot...

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Almost finished...

I left the demo to go paint on my own, so I don't have the final version, but this is close. (Please don't throw tomatoes!) My next post will be a list of his painting caveats, which were lovely to be seen in action as he critiqued the pieces of the nine painters who remained to work.

(See also Celeste Bergin's day-by-day summary of her five day workshop with Backhaus in Oregon.)

Look at what's written across his EASyL: SQUINT! Great reminder for determining values.

3 comments:

Donna T said...

Thank you Bonnie!!! I learn so much from these kinds of reports. Very interesting that he uses more than one tone to start with (Anne's been telling me that all along.) The elimination of that window was a lesson for me too. It's so hard to re-arrange what's right in front of you to make a better composition. I'm sure he will mail you the completed painting since it was YOUR pencil that made it all possible!

Bonnie said...

Donna,
At the get go, he specifically said to not count windows and doors, because nobody else knows better.

Check your back pocket, he said. Your artistic license is there.

Just wait for the other snippets when I get them typed out. Most I'd heard before, but it is wonderful to hear again within his framework.

I did get my pencil back. I framed it already, although I did think of using it as a magical pencil which might bring me perfect drawings henceforth and forever more.

Bonnie said...

He did paint over the window, but then he added the small vent at the bottom because it was too flat a wall. He also added the flat, gray corner stones at the top and bottom. All the details were very subtle so as to not compete with the focal point.

The rounded thing that looks like a propane tank next to the main house seems to be very out of place, but we learned it is a rather popular beehive oven, so it was contemporary with the building. That Backhaus toned down from being bright to being a couple shades darker than it really was.