Sterling Edwards Workshop
October 20-24, 2014
Sterling arrived in central PA Saturday afternoon, October 18 and was met by President Walker and Membership Chair/ Newsletter editor, Ginny Walker. Previous reservations had been secured at the Canal House for a welcoming dinner.
On Sunday, October 19, President Walker and Ginny met Sterling about 11:30 am and transported him to the State Museum where part of the afternoon was spent as Sterling selected the 45 awards for this year’s juried show. After selecting the awards, it was back to Hummelstown and a visit to the fire hall to look over the facilities. Here we met Linda Young, John Pitman, Cathy Peters, and Gayle Yasich, all heavily involved in setting up and preparing the fire hall for tomorrow’s workshop. Sterling had the opportunity to unpack several boxes of supplies and materials for the workshop. Later that evening Linda, John, Ginny, and I hosted Sterling for a quiet evening dinner.
The excitement mounted early Monday morning as the workshop attendees began to arrive, some before the fire hall opened at 8:00 am. Linda Young introduced our esteemed instructor about 9:00 am and the fun began! Sterling explained that each morning he would do a demonstration starting about 9:00 am and would produce a finished painting before we broke for lunch. He emphasized completing a monochromatic value study for a painting which would give us one of the most important aspects of doing a good painting. After displaying several value studies he had completed for a book he is working on, Sterling chose one value study of an old tree that he would use for this first day’s painting. The full sheet painting on Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. paper was completed before lunch. I think most of the participants were in total awe as the subject came to life from Sterling’s brushes as he applied value changes and negative painting while developing the painting. Lunch was served after which each participant worked on either what Sterling had demonstrated or on another subject of their choosing. Sterling traveled the room offering critiques and suggestions to individual students.
Day two saw Sterling take one of his monochrome value studies of an old Carolina mountain barn and turn it into a full sheet painting of outstanding quality. I think the class was spellbound as we watched the painting grow from Sterling’s brush strokes! He emphasized saving whites, middle values, and using the darkest darks to accentuate the center of interest in the painting. The morning passed quickly and after lunch we got to try to emulate what we had seen demonstrated that morning. Many times in the afternoons, maybe an hour before closing, we all were invited back for a short demonstration on subjects such as painting clouds, painting a sunset, credit card rocks, or how to paint fog.
On day three Sterling demonstrated making a value study with the Derwent Liquid Pencil. He also demonstrated his credit card rocks with a full sheet painting of a lakeside scene. Individual instruction by Sterling in the afternoon brought the day to a busy end.
Day four began with a very impressionistic rending of flowers from Sterling, demonstrating the easy, fluid big brush techniques of which he is famous. In the afternoon we tried to emulate Sterling’s techniques as we attempted to apply what we had learned in the morning. Sterling again gave individual coaching/instruction to attendees as they asked for his advice on their paintings. Besides being an outstanding artist, Sterling is a terrific story teller. He graciously shared many of his stories with us which further added to our appreciation of his instruction and kept us in stiches most of the time.
Thursday evening found the workshop class hosting Sterling at a dinner at Fenicci’s Restaurant in Hershey, PA. Good food and fun was had by all. Linda Young, acting as master of ceremonies, presented Sterling with an art apron embroidered by Ginny Walker and signed by each member of the workshop group.
Friday tuned into a day of abstraction with Sterling demonstrating how he creates an abstract painting. Sterling indicated that he likes to take photographs of piles of junk, old machinery, garbage which he uses many times as the basis for an abstract. He demonstrated how he takes his view finder, a clever little device, which when manipulated increases or decreases the viewing window and looks for interesting shapes and designs on a photograph. When a design with interesting shapes is found, that becomes the basis for the beginnings of an abstract painting. Sterling then roughly sketched the design on to a sheet of watercolor paper. He began by painting in rough shapes that became more refined as the painting progressed.