Monday, April 21, 2014

In Conversation with Douglas Flynt

"Conches" by Douglas Flynt
Douglas Flynt is a full-time artist living and working in Fort Myers, FL. In addition to receiving his MFA from the New York Academy of Art, Douglas studied under Jacob Collins at the Water Street Atelier. His paintings depict resplendent light on form with strikingly accurate drawing. This July, we are eager to have Douglas teaching a 6-day Still-Life Painting Workshop.  Below, a very informative discussion on his technique.  ~Leeanna Chipana

Leeanna: Douglas, judging by your video tutorials and demos on your website you will have a lot packed into the 6-day workshop. How will you break it down for artists to understand in only 6-days? What can they expect to achieve?

Douglas: There will definitely be an intense amount of information.  We will create preliminary drawings to problem solve for placement and structure before we start painting. These will be transferred over to our linens or canvases.  We will next do a very simplified underpainting before modeling the form with paint in a subsequent layer.  Of course, to do this we will also investigate ways to layout our colors and explore why light causes the colors we perceive- along with how the organization of those colors creates a sculptural illusion. Because of the 6 day time-frame participants shouldn’t expect to walk out with elaborately finished paintings. I, of course, want them to feel good about what they do create but they need to think of the paintings they create as studies rather than masterpieces. I’m going to encourage everyone to keep their subject matter simple.

What I want everyone to be focused on is the process, along with the ideas and concepts, which go into the creation of a painting.  What they’re working on during the workshop is practicing an implementation of those ideas and concepts. It’s my hope that after the workshop is over,  they can then take that knowledge and apply it on their own, with as much complexity as they would like, and take as long as they need, to create more fully developed paintings.

"The Still Life Collection," by Douglas Flynt

Leeanna: Your students have spoken very highly of you, describing your teaching as “very generous” and your communication as very clear. It sounds like you are very passionate about teaching. When did you first start? What keeps you motivated?

Douglas: I believe I first started teaching around 2004. Like many artists it was initially out of necessity—needing an income.  However, I began to quickly find a number of the people I worked with, that is the people I taught, felt that I had a knack for conveying my thought process more so than many other instructors they had encountered. And of course it felt good to receive that kind of praise. But I also began to see another benefit. By having to explain to others what I was doing it made me more consciously examine my own thought process—and helped me further solidify my own understanding of both process and ideas.  And just like with anything else, with more and more teaching experience I’d like to think I figured out better and better ways to convey information to others.

My teaching philosophy centers around trying to get individuals to be consciously aware of what they are doing—to really get them to think about their actions. If they can do this they can ultimately learn to teach themselves. These days I still enjoy the financial benefits of teaching but the real excitement is to see someone experience an ”aha” moment.  Seeing the delight someone gets when they have a sudden realization, insight or comprehension regarding something they're working through.

Leeanna: Your colors are always so balanced.  Could you tell us a little bit about your composition process?

For my older paintings much of the color harmony was largely the result of a very limited palette.  Today I keep a wider array of colors on hand and my understanding of how to create color harmony is more theoretical. For compositional color choices it comes down to an understanding of the idea of color-space, or a three-dimensional organization of color, visualizing what section or gamut of color-space I plan to work with so that the average color choices in my painting favor a particular hue family. In more simple terms it’s my premise that if you could take all the colors in your finished painting, with the proportions that exist in the painting, and then swirl them together - the resulting mixture should not be neutral. The more the resulting mixture leans toward a particular hue family, the more harmonious the painting will be.

I often use clothing choices as an example to describe this in my workshops. If someone is wearing a chromatic, or intense, red shirt along with similarly intense red pants - the result is very harmonious, yet a bit boring.  If someone is wearing the same intense red shirt with pants that are an intense green - this clashes and would not be harmonious. Now, imagine that we keep the same red shirt and change out the pants for some that are still green but rather low in chroma, or a very greyish green. If we could mix the shirt and pants together, like paint, the result would still have a reddish color. We now have variety, which lends interest, but the result is still harmonious.

Leeanna: I noticed in your demo that you work directly on canvas. Here we usually use an “├ębauche” or “grisaille” as an under-painting before diving into modeling the form with paint. Do you find you have to work in layers or are you using a fast drying medium?

Douglas: In my own work it’s actually rather rare that I work directly onto my linen—unless I’m doing some type of paint sketch or study. I almost always create a preliminary drawing, which I transfer to my painting surface before I begin to paint. In the past there was a period where, once I had my preliminary drawing transferred, I would paint more directly, finishing as I went. However, these days I virtually always employ an ├ębauche or underpainting before moving onto my finishing pass—where I much more carefully refine the modeling of my objects. So yes, I guess you could say that I do work in layers, and during the underpainting stage I often employ an alkyd-based medium to accelerate drying time.

To read more about our Summer workshops click here.

1 comment:

bob silverman naturalrealist said...

Douglas' understanding of harmony pervades his classroom as it does in his painting. Clarity and reality in presentation are additional benefits.