Friday, October 25, 2019

Plein Air Landscape Workshop with T.J. Cunningham

At the end of July I attended a Plein Air Landscape Workshop with T. J. Cunningham at the Landgrove Inn in Landgrove, Vermont.  It was fabulous!  I had a great time with a lot of really nice people, a wonderful instructor, beautiful scenery, and great food in a very comfortable and accommodating inn.  Vermont is beautiful, green and has loads of barns and dirt roads.  There is truly a painting around every corner.  Landgrove is in southern Vermont so the ride from North Jersey was an easy 4 hours.  The Landgrove Inn is lovely and a little rustic.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all included and are served in the Inn's restaurant, which is open to the public for dinner.  The food was very good and they have a full bar that is available to guests at any time.
T.J. beginning a demo at a farm down the road from the Inn.
T.J. Cunningham is a young artist who has already established himself as a top contemporary landscape artist.  He is also an excellent teacher.  Each day started in the Landgrove Inn's studio with a short lecture and question and answer period.  Then we would go out on location, which was never very far, and he would do a 1-2 hour demonstration.  His demonstrations were particularly educational.  He explains every step of the way and is very generous with his knowledge and talents.  After lunch we would return to the location and paint.  One of the days we painted first and he did a demo after lunch so that we would have the morning light.  This is one of my plein air sketches from that morning.  I look forward to finishing it one day.
"Hayfields ",  Plein Air Oil Sketch on Panel, 9"x 12"
In his morning lectures he emphasized composition, values, and shapes.  He encouraged us to find the extremes first; the biggest shapes, the darkest darks, the lightest lights, the sharpest and softest edges.  He taught us about other artists, contemporary and from the past, and urged us to read Edgar Payne, Ken Salaz, Carlson, and many others.  His demonstrations were awe-inspiring and his one on one instruction was very personalized.  He was particularly good at honing in on where each of us were at in our varied journey in painting, and he took us all a little further along. Every student there was extremely happy with the workshop.
"Landgrove Inn",  Plein Air Oil Sketch on Panel, 9" x 12"
T.J. is also a really nice guy with a beautiful young family that had come along with him to Vermont.  He was originally from Vermont but lives in Tennessee now.  To see his work and information on upcoming workshops and exhibits, check out his website here.  Cunningham Fine Art .  I highly recommend attending a workshop with T.J.   Most of his workshops are in Tennessee or the Carolinas, but if he is ever back up north I would love to go to another one.  I also really enjoyed the Landgrove Inn.   I am already booked for another workshop there next year with John MacDonald, who I have reviewed in past posts. (Go to my workshop reviews in my menu).

Friday, October 18, 2019


I was away for most of the summer and truly had no time to post.  We sailed from the Chesapeake to Maine and spent 2 months on the boat.  I had intended to paint while on this trip but either we were travelling or sight seeing or taking care of provisioning or laundry.  The few times I had a chance to paint I just wanted to do nothing.  But I am back now and will try to post more often.  And Paint!

My set-up for the "Art in the Park" art fair
The week after I got back I exhibited my work at "Art in the Park", an outdoor art fair in a neighboring town.  I love doing this particular event.  It is free to exhibit and since you are not juried in there is a variety of artists from beginners to professionals.  They do have jurors who award prizes at the end.  I didn't win anything but I sold two paintings and had a great day.

Chinese Lanterns
12" x 16"

11" x 14"

What I find so intriguing about these types of art fairs is that you get to see which pieces people are interested in or attracted to.  Usually it surprises me.  Sometimes work I am not totally satisfied with is the most popular, and paintings I love so much that I am reluctant to sell hardly get any attention at all.  I also love to talk about art and meet other artists.  A lot of the people that come to this particular event are just enjoying a day in the park and come across the show by accident.  But its amazing how much they want to talk about your process and most ask really insightful questions.

I have some tips for anyone just starting out exhibiting in these shows.  First and foremost, even if it is a free event and full of amateur artists, it is essential to make your display as professional as possible.  I like to have everything framed, but I did see one display where the artist had panels hanging from binder clips and that worked well too.  Be sure to label all your work with the name, medium, size, and, most importantly, price.  People are reluctant to ask for a price and may just assume it is out of their price range.  Besides handing out business cards, I print up brochures that are two-sided and show a small image of every piece I have displayed, along with the same information as the label, and of course, my website and email.  This way people have a visual to remind them of what they saw in case they need time to decide whether to purchase something that interested them.  And finally, try to stay at your display as much as possible, and don't just sit and read or mess with your phone when people are actively looking at your work.  Stand up, and without being intrusive, be interested in the fact that they are interested.  Be ready to answer questions or ask questions yourself.  Be engaged!  These events can bring your work to the attention of a lot of people you probably would not reach any other way.

If you are in North Jersey anytime in the next few months come see one of my solo exhibits.
November 2019  Teaneck Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ
December 2019  Ridgewood Library
125 North Maple Avenue, Ridgwood, NJ
February 2020  Paramus Library
116 East Century Road, Paramus, NJ
March & April 2020  Westwood Library
49 Park Avenue, Westwood, NJ