Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Frank Gardner Painting Workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. March 2012

Evening view over San Miguel.
Image Frank Gardner ©

Dates are set for my 2012 plein air painting workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
March 10-16
Class size 8 -12 people

Being a resident of San Miguel for over 20 years I'm always excited to offer my Mexico workshops each winter.
This one is going to be my best yet.
March is one of the best months for visiting. The weather is almost always perfect for painting. Warm sunny days of around 75F and cool nights about 50F. Located in the mountains of Central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is rich in history and colonial architecture.

One of my classes painting a landscape.
Image Frank Gardner ©

For this years class I am arranging a very special week. Approximately half of the week will be spent painting on the streets of San Miguel, or around the mansion where the group will be based. The rest of the time we will head out of town, to nearby private ranches, where we'll paint landscape and or rustic old chapels and buildings. As special guests we'll paint comfortably all day and be treated to full gourmet lunches by our hosts. We'll return to town around 5:30 on those days. There will be plenty of time in the evenings for exploring the historic center of San Miguel or relaxing on the rooftop terrace of the mansion where you'll be staying.

Lodging will be provided at a luxurious historic mansion in the center of San Miguel de Allende. Located less than two blocks from the Jardin on Calle San Francisco, its ideal location puts you exactly where you want to be to experience the most San Miguel has to offer.

With 4 bedroom suites with full baths, two standard bedrooms, a grand dining room featuring 20 foot vaulted ceilings, and a full colonial library, it is the pinnacle of colonial luxury.

Built in 1752, it has been home to many prominent people including President Santa Ana during his fifth presidency in 1833, during the fated Alamo. In 1985, it was beautifully renovated to its past splendor, and has since been a frequent stop on the Homes and Gardens tours, and featured in magazines such as Vogue for its artful interior design.

One of the interior walkways around this magnificent mansion.

Courtyard where you'll stay.

Class description:

We will paint from around 9:00 or 9:30 until about 1:00. There will be about an hour for lunch then we will paint until about 5:00.

This workshop is for oil painters only. All levels are welcome, but you SHOULD HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE PAINTING ON LOCATION. I have a materials list that I will email to all participants.

- In the workshop, my emphasis is on helping everyone advance to their next level.

Some of the topics we will concentrate on are:

- Values: A strong and simple value pattern is key to a successful painting, we will work on seeing and mixing values correctly from the start and keeping them clear throughout the painting process.

- Color: We will work on seeing color and value then mixing desired color using a limited palette.
Premixing colors on your palette to get proper relationships is one of the topics I'll discuss.
Accurate color mixing is key to capturing the mood of a location.

- Strong Starts/ Block In: An emphasis will be on getting a strong start to your painting so you don't need to waste time reworking the design later. I feel that a strong start is the key a successful plein air painting and we will focus a lot on "starts" as well as how to bring a good start to the desired finish.

- Demos: I will do several demos, but there will be plenty of time for painting and I will walk around and give individual guidance. There will be some quick painting exercises as well as some longer painting sessions.

A typical street in San Miguel.
Image Frank Gardner ©

An old chapel where we might paint.
Image Frank Gardner ©

One of the bedroom suites.

The following rooms are available.
- 5 full days painting instruction: painting demos, group and one on one instruction. Powerpoint discussion on painting influences, composition and design, plus other possible topics.
- 7 nights lodging at one of the most historic homes in San Miguel.
- Welcome cocktail and dinner, to be determined by when participants will be arriving.
- Light breakfast each morning.
- 1 Special Group Dinner at the house.
- 2 Gourmet Lunches at Private Ranches
- Transportation to and from painting locations outside of town.
- Satellite TV and WiFi
- Lodging taxes and tips for house staff.
- Odorless Turpentine will be provided to those traveling by plane.

$1,650.USD (4)
-Rooftop bedroom with Queen bed. Amazing views on 3 sides overlooking rooftops and the church spires of town. Wake up with a view of the Parroquia each morning. 1/2 bath.

-Master Suite with King bed. Walk in closet. Full bath with oversized tub.

-Suite #2 Queen size bed. Oversized tub. Plenty of closet space. Window view of street. Room connects to library with fireplace and comfortable leather furniture.

- Suite #3 Four poster queen sized bed. Sitting area, walk in closet. Full bath.

$1,550. USD (1)
-Suite #4 Cheerfully decorated double bed. Connects to library. Street view. Full bath- shower only.

$1,450. USD (1)
-Ground floor room. Single bed, 1/2 bath.

The 2 rooms with 1/2 baths will need to share showers in one of the other bedrooms.

Non painter sharing a bed is an additional $500. We'll be glad to arrange activities for any non painting partners. Spanish classes, spa/massage, horseback riding, cooking classes. San Miguel is a very safe town for anyone who just wants to wander around and explore.

Email me at with any questions or to see if there are available spots.
Occupancy is limited. If more lodging is requested I can arrange a similar option close by.

There will be a few spots available for people who don't need lodging.
Non Lodging Tuition only for the 5 days is $680. includes 5 days painting, the welcome cocktail and dinner at the house, the special group dinner, 2 gourmet lunches and transport to and from the private ranches, plus any extra discussions or critiques in the evenings.

A deposit of 50% is needed to hold your spot. There are limited rooms available at the main house that we'll be based. Room selection is on a first come first serve basis. I'll give you a mailing address to send the deposit check. Or you can pay with Paypal (additional 3% for Paypal transaction fee)
The remaining 50% is required 60 days prior to the start of the class.

Not included:
Airfare to and from Mexico: The closest airport is in Leon, (airport code BJX), about and hour and a half ride from town.
Mexico City is about four hours from San Miguel by bus and a private driver can also be arranged.
Transportation to and from Airport: I'll be glad to recommend and arrange round trip transport from the airport. There are several different options and costs.
Other meals not listed in description above: Grocery shopping can be arranged upon arrival. There are many good restaurants nearby. I'll provide a list of some of our favorites.

In front of the one of San Miguel's Many beautiful churches.
Image Frank Gardner ©

On the main square, just a block and a half from where you'll stay.
Image Frank Gardner ©

At one of the ranches we'll visit.
Image Frank Gardner ©

Nearby landscape at one of the ranches we'll visit.
Image Frank Gardner ©

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Notes from Door County Plein Air Festival. July 2011

"Shapes of Door County" 12x16" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

I was invited to participate in the Door County Plein Air Festival this July in Wisconsin. It was my first time that I've done one of these events where artists are invited to paint for 4 or 5 days then have an exhibit of their best works painted during the week. You must create all of the artwork from life during the indicated days and within Door County, WI.
The event is hosted by the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek. It is also part of their biggest fundraiser of the year. The staff and volunteers do an exceptional job of planning and organizing the whole thing. I can't convey how smoothly it is run. They also make it exciting for collectors by having certain events each day where people can go to find at least some of the artists painting. It restricts us a bit during the little time that we have to get solid work completed, but it is really a great way to chat with collectors and that is kind of why we are there.

My friends Colin Page and Marc Hanson were invited back this year and it was great to meet all of the other artists involved as well. The artists are provided lodging with host families. I stayed in a little boat house in Sister Bay with Colin, and therefore spent a lot of the time painting with him. It is always inspirational to hang out with other artists that I admire and we definitely pushed ourselves a little harder that week. Not in a competitive way, but just to take advantage of the time we had to concentrate on painting and nothing else. We painted all day, and almost every night until 11pm at least. One night Colin and I painted, chatted and joked about art and prepared frames for our pieces until about 3:30. It's great to paint so much and talk about all kinds of art stuff. I always work out a few issues and grow a little bit after intense painting with friends like this. There are usually some frustrating times when I seem to wipe off everything I start, but that is all just part of pushing myself to create stronger pieces.

The week winds up with a gala event at the school where each artist chooses their best 4 pieces to hang for the show. Special patrons are allowed to preview the works and purchase at 15% premium above the retail price. Then the gallery is closed for about 20 minutes while the sold works are replaced with more pieces that each artist had in reserve. Then the gallery is re-opened again to the collectors who have purchased tickets for the evening's events and the work is sold at silent auction starting at the original retail price. Remember, this is also a fundraising event for the school and there is no shortage of supporters willing to pay a little extra to get first choice for the paintings they like.

About halfway through the night awards are announced by the invited judge. Here are the results as copied from the newsletter sent out by the Peninsula School. I was extremely honored and humbled and more than a bit surprised when Kathy from the school read my name as the winner of the coveted Artist's Choice Award.

"Brian Sindler, of Northbrook, IL, claimed the Best in Show prize at the 2011 Door County Plein Air Festival, hosted by the Peninsula School of Art, 3900 County Road F in Fish Creek, for his oil painting entitled, "Nocturne, Sister Bay." Sindler's painting was chosen from a field of 41 other artists by internationally-recognized artist and judge, Brian Stewart, of Minneapolis, MN, during the festival's Gala held at the School on Friday, July 22. The four top award winners also received cash in recognition of their works.

Other top prize winners include: First Place, "After Hours" by Colin Page of Camden, ME; Second Place, "The American Dream" by James Richards of Athens, GA and Third Place, "Ice Cream and Shade" by Tom Nachreiner of Elm Grove, WI.

The following artists received Honorable Mention and art supplies for their works: Marc Hanson, of Taylor Falls, MN for "Backyard View;" Stuart Fullerton, of Chicago, IL, for "High Summer;" Joshua Been, of Salida, CO, for "Lake Shore Patterns;" Colin Page for "Wednesday Afternoon in the Park" and Mark Boedges of South Burlington, VT for "The Heather J."

Frank Gardner of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico received the prestigious Artists' Choice Award for the body of artwork he created during the Festival. The award winner is selected by a ballot of the participating festival artists."

There is also a quick paint event on Saturday where each artist has just two hours to complete a finished work. The Featured Artists quickly get their pieces down to the tent for a live auction. There are about 40 other artists who compete for people's choice awards and the chance to be invited back for next years event as a featured artist.

Below are the rest of the my pieces that I completed during the event. Unfortunately, in the rush, I didn't snap an image of the quick paint piece.

"The Blue Ox" 16x12" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"Horseshoe Bay Farms" 12x16" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"View of Ephraim" 9x12" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"Model Boat" 8x10" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011
Private Collection

"Ice Cream Factory at Night" 9x12" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"Fish Creek Market Nocturne" Frank Gardner © 2011
Private Collection.

"Old Pick-Up in Door County" 8x10" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"Land Cruiser" 9x12" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"Sit, Stay" 12x9" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011

"The Red Putter" 12x9" oil. Frank Gardner © 2011