Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Robert Burridge Workshop - Abstract Acrylic Painting and Collage

It has been a couple of weeks since I attended Robert Burridge's workshop in Calgary and I finally have some time to take a look at my notes.

This was a great workshop - think 'BobBlast' only in person. Bob is an extremely generous person. Loved watching him paint - he is confident when making his choices but also extremely thoughtful. He writes his goals down everyday, always starts the painting day off with several small warmups -practice, practice, practice - 'the more you practice the better you will paint' - sound familiar!

Bob has 4 C's that he refers to when he starts a painting. These will find a prominent place on my bulletin board and will help keep me more focused on my painting.

Bob's 4 C's

1. What is the 'concept' (Always titles his paintings first)
2. What is the 'colour combination'. Follows his colour wheel and only puts those colours on the table
3. What is the 'composition'. (horizontal, cruciform, cantilever, etc)
4. 'Continue' the series. Do more than one. If you only do one tightens you up. Doing multiples gives you a better chance off getting it 'right'. You will stay looser.

We worked with Bob's colour wheel during the workshop. It is straight forward, and simple to use. Line the diamond pointer (4 sided) up with your choice of dominant colour (this will be 80% of the painting) and the other three colours are picked from the other three points of the diamond pointer - focal colour (10%) and two spice colours (each 5% of your painting). Bob uses Holbein acrylic paints but he does provide comparable colours for other paint brands. I struggled a bit with this at first but after practicing with a few smaller paintings it really did become easier. He will refer to his paintings as the 'red' painting or 'blue', etc, depending on the dominant colour.

There were lots of demo's, Bob brought along a portfolio full of samples of his work for the class to look at and we had time to paint. As usual though there is never enough time to do it all.

Now that I am home and getting back into the painting routine I will think more about having a theme for my work - Bob feels this brings more meaningful intentions to your work and it will make your work so much better. Another sage piece of advice is your painting is about you. You won't get approval from family  or friends so don't justify what you are doing. Paint for yourself!

I did some paintings of subject matter that I never would have tried and experimented with a more limited palette. I found Bob's comments about being an artist/painter very insightful and encouraging. I had waited 2 years to attend a workshop with Bob and I wasn't disappointed.

If you haven't checked out his website it is worth a visit. Lots of artwork to look at and he generously shares his favourite studio supplies and has a colour comparison chart for the Holbein acrylic colours he likes to use and lots more!

These are a couple of paintings started in the workshop. I am not a figurative painter, but I sure had fun painting him! The 'cherry blossom trees' were done painting the negative space out around them. It does help to start with a background that has lots of colours, textures and marks.

'Mr Button Down'
Acrylic mixed media
on gessoed canvas

'Cherry Blossoms in the Fog'
Acrylic mixed media
on 140lb cold press watercolour paper


  1. Thanks for sharing Janet :) Love the portrait. I see one eye open and one shut, and loads of personality. So glad you had fun learning :)

  2. Thanks Sheila. Not my usual but once I started painting it was very freeing! Have a great day.

  3. Janet, I so appreciate your generosity in using your blog as a place to reflect on and synthesize bits of your Bob Burridge workshop. I come away with much to think about and explore. I poked around his website briefly, and I've put a book of his on my to-read list. Mr Button Down makes me smile!! I love all the trademark Janet touches shining through even though figurative painting is not your gig—you clearly brought YOU to the undertaking. Also love seeing your skill with laying down layers and then using negative painting in Cherry Blossoms. So glad we met during the January 30in30 : )

  4. I am happy to share Dotty. Nothing proprietary here! Give a room full of creative types the same materials and guidance and you will end up with a different result from each individual. I find that very exciting. Glad you like Mr Button Down - he has grown on me over the last couple of weeks and I think it would be fun and challenging to do a series of so called 'portraits'. I too am happy to have connected in January and look forward to our continued sharing of ideas, mini critiques and enjoying the virtual conversation. You inspire me with your fearless approach to art making and your generosity is much appreciated too. Take care and look forward to sharing more art in the coming days! ox

  5. Great four things to think about, sensible, but most of don't take the time to do it. Great advice too on the series. Love the cherry blossoms and glad to see you take on the portrait with such character.