I’ve spent countless nights lying awake trying to compose this post. Phenomenal artist and my mentor, Lou Maestas started walking the streets of gold on April 20th. It was by far the most difficult goodbye I’ve ever had to say. So many questions keep running through my head with things I wish I would have asked, learned, and verified.
Lou Maestas Demo
A Tribute to a Modern Master
At the Tubac School of Fine Art LLC, we endeavor to pay tribute and honor a man who was overwhelmed by inspiration and generosity of spirit to share with the world the beauty we can only express through art. In the short time Lou Maestas’ lived in Tubac, he touched hundreds of students and peers with his passion and love for creativity.
Known for his oil rub-out paintings primarily of the southwest and the Native Americans which influenced his life, Lou graciously shared his knowledge and guidance to everyone he met. Lou had a way of endearing his students and empowering them with his encouragement. He brought together a community of artists who know everyone’s need for beauty, and who have a yearning to share their passion for art with others. He shared his experience, tricks of the trade, and his personal techniques in a way that made you feel special- like he was filling you in on some magical formula that no one else knew and he was going to share it with YOU. It was like he gave me the super-rich experience of a lifetime career in art in a brief, condensed version and I will be forever grateful.
Modern Master Lou Maestas demoing during Tubac Art Festival
How Lou Maestas Touched my Life
The first time I met with him and shared my desire to start a journey into fine art, he proclaimed I would become an artist, no matter what. He ascertained this knowledge after a quick glance of my sketchbooks
, and it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. That first year I attended classes every Monday morning, they would often extend into the afternoon. Rarely was it a week before I would be consulting with him, receiving progress critiques and gleaning as much knowledge as possible. That Spring, I committed to an intensive program of private lessons and learned a great deal. He shared his art knowledge with me unabashedly from the very beginning and right through to the very end.
For me, it was Lou’s belief in me that gave me the confidence to explore my desire to create. I have three Moleskine notebooks I filled with notes from my time learning with Lou. Whenever I am stuck, I pull these notes out, and as I flip the pages and picture the project we were working on or the demonstration he was sharing or even the wisdom lessons he loved to tell,
I can still hear him saying, “feel the fear and do it anyway,” “values, values, values…then any color will do,” “what color is this?” always making me think it through.
Something really unique about Lou is that when he got excited about something, He was all in; there was no waiting for the following week’s class to share something he’d been inspired by. It was a quick phone call saying, “Come on over, I want to show you something.” It wasn’t just me that he did this with; it was his core group of artists that felt so secure beneath his wings. One time, in particular, he had seven of us pile into his little trailer to watch the ending scene of the movie The Benny Goodman Story because he had found it so inspiring. Of course, there were times when you’d want to pinch his head off too. He knew how to play the temperamental artist role. Lou also had a flair for storytelling and exaggeration. He was very charismatic in that way. Some of his stories were so preposterous they either had to be true or you knew he was blowin’ smoke the get your attention.
A Modern Master
He was a modern master, eager to share the beauty he saw in everyday life. He taught others to share it too. That is Lou Maestas’ legacy.
San Diego #Pace17
In April very special artist friends Pam Wedemeyer and Joan Brittain and I traveled to San Diego for the annual Plein Air Convention sponsored by Eric Rhodes. Rhodes is the publisher of Plein Air Magazine and Fine Art Magazine, he also teaches art marketing boot camps and has developed a product called Art Marketing in a box, a yearly system with concise instructions for artists to follow to successfully sell their art.
The convention brings together around 1000 artists for one week of painting outdoors, seminars, workshops, and demos by some of the industries most sought after artists. It is a total immersion experience into the world of plein air painting. Some use their plein air paintings as the finished product, while others view it as a way of taking notes and studies for composing larger studio pieces. Either way, painting outside is a completely different experience, especially when shared with hundreds of other artists painting as a group on location.
The Women Rocked
I have to say this was the year of the women! If I were giving out grades on presentation and inspiration the women on stage would by and far receive all A’s. That’s not to say the male presenters didn’t inspire or share wonderful knowledge, the women just did an outstanding job of presenting their unique processes and heartfelt desire to create, living me itching to go out and paint!
I’ll like to share with you just a glimpse into my notes from #PACE17 and how the women really inspired me.
the Women Rock San Diego #Pace17
Jill Carver- Visual Acuity
acuity |əˈkyo͞oədē| noun: sharpness or keenness of thought, vision, or hearing: intellectual acuity | visual acuity.
was a delight, with her English accent and great quotes from poets and musicians. Visual acuity was the focus of her demo subdivided into four main points.
- Separation of Light and Shadow
- Freedom in Limitation
Sharing incredibly detailed explanations for improving compositions alongside photo references of her own work. She gave us a list of points to consider before even starting a painting. She believes in the importance of good palette housekeeping in order to simplify the process. Jill motivated us to try exercises in limitation.
For instance: use only three values, giving so many more choices within hue, chroma, and temperature.
I left her demo wanting more, I will have to look up her workshop schedule!
Roos Shuring making the most of her time painting on the steps outside the hotel
Roos Shuring- The Holy Grail of Landscape Painting
pronounced “Rose” believes Color and Light are the “Holy Grail” of landscape paintings. She is a dynamic speaker and brilliant palette knife painter. I found her to be very genuine and approachable.
Three takeaways that spoke the loudest to me:
- The effect of light is more important than the object.
- Use of a small hand mirror held close to one eye, with the other closed look horizontally at your painting with comparative analysis.
- Experiment with Notans, see how little information is needed to convey your story.
I met Roos along the marina the first evening paint-out, I was blown away at the effectiveness of simplicity and the golden light in her painting. I I wished I had set up nearer her. After just that brief encounter I knew she’d be someone I really liked and her presentation the next day proved it.
Mary Pettis #Pace17 Painting from the inside out.
Mary Pettis – Painting from the inside out.
Painting from the inside out.
I was most inspired by Mary’s
declaration that she had designed herself a curriculum in order to be a proficient artist. Not only is she, she followed the lesson plan she set out for herself and has now published it into a book. Her presentation and book were guided by the lessons she learned seeking the knowledge and discipline needed to be an accomplished artist.
“If you don’t love it in the first 13 minutes – WIPE IT OUT” Mary Pettis
Mary laid out a step by step plan to paint a scene that could be completed within an hour. Beginning with an armature. She had a timer and all!
I have to admit to you all that I didn’t sit through her entire demo. Reason being, I found it so informative and inspiring I had to buy the book and I knew it would sell out as soon as the session ended! I did, however, come straight back, and her painting was really near completion and quite beautiful. Much more beautiful than the photo reference. I’m sure because she was painting a subject she knew well and loved deeply.
One last gem:
“ think with the brush down, paint with passion, then put the brush down again and think”
Dena had a fascinating presentation about her experience painting scenes for “Loving Vincent”
the first full-length hand painted animated film about the death of Vincent Van Gogh. Peterson a painter and animator from Colorado Springs in the USA, relayed her experience from hearing about the artist call on Facebook, to being chosen one of the 125 artist to work on the project out of 5000 submissions, then to her trips to Poland to work in her cubicle depicting scenes in the style of Van Gogh that had to coordinate with various other artists work and be wiped out once they were recorded.
Talk about daily painting!
Quang Ho pre-convention workshop
To be Fair
The obvious exception to the women ruling the show, Quang Ho. This pre-convention workshop deserves its own post. To be fair, there were men who left an impact on my spirit that week, to name a few Charlie Hunter, Karl Dempwolf, and Tony Pro. These men complimented my work, encouraged me and generously shared their knowledge with me. It goes without saying, Eric Rhodes is THE rock star of these conventions, without his efforts, I wouldn’t have seen or experienced any of this greatness.
Karl Dempwolf and Joan discussing plein air by the sea at #Pace17
My Final Thoughts
I would highly encourage any artist with a desire to connect, improve, expand, learn, grow, be inspired and succeed to attend #PACE18. The Plein Air Convention will be held in the magical high desert city of Santa Fe, New Mexico!!!!!
If you attended #PACE17 in San Diego, tell me some of your favorite takeaways from the convention. If you curious about attending throw your questions my way in the comments.
#pace17 is a rising tide.
More photos from #Pace17
my new friend Helen
Plein Air Wars