Folks learn new strokes
By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- Reds, blues and yellows are all around in different combination creating rainbows of color and painter Rick Kelly is helping local artists capture those colors in a natural light.
This month at McKee Botanical Garden, Mr. Kelly, a Treasure Coast landscape artist who studied under A.E. Backus, is the artist-in residence and will be leading plein air art classes in the campus gardens.
The classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The class fee ranges, starting at $60 for one workshop, a press release said.
When it comes to painting, and plein air painting especially, it is very important to decide why a subject is being painted, Mr. Kelly said.
"Why am I painting that tree? Decide why and at that stage you can develop the rest," he said.
During the first class, the students pulled out their paintbrushes and began transforming their canvas into a series of shapes and lines. It was their first step into a technique Mr. Kelly enjoys and calls "pull-off."
After covering a section of canvas in oils with a little bit of water, an artist can pull, push or drag the paint off the canvas to create a sketch of the object or objects in the scene. Afterward, other colors can be added to enhance and draw attention to the focal features of the piece, Mr. Kelly said.
Juxtaposing colors in just the right combination can make the viewer see brilliant shades and layers of color without a painter mixing the colors on the palette, Mr. Kelly said.
Kent Wahl, a seasonal resident, was bit by the painting bug last year, took a class with Mr. Kelly and since then has been expanding his skill set and decided to try the garden art classes.
"This is my first plein air painting," Mr. Wahl said.
Being able to paint something in nature is difficult, because the sunlight is constantly changing, so taking a picture of what appeals to you is best, he said.
"With a photograph to go by, it's easier to take your time and get the paint down just right," Mr. Wahl said.
Barbara St. Jacques, another seasonal resident, enjoys plein air painting and was excited about the new painting technique, which she tried out on canvas by creating a cactus plant.
"I just loved the 'Medusa' type of look of the plant," Ms. St. Jacques said. "I really like plein air painting, it really gets me in the zone and it's just wonderful to be in nature."
The classes will each have a different focus or technique, but they are all independent of each other and a student can come in on any one lesson and still get a lot out of it, Mr. Kelly said.
For more information about events and activities at McKee Botanical Garden, call (772) 794-0601 or visit www.mckeegarden.org.