At past conventions, Colorado artist Bill Davidson has given demos indoors. Next time he will be a field painter, and he’s looking forward to it. The field is where the knowledge attained is put into action at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE). With Davidson, artists may learn about his unusual approach to the color green.
“I enjoy teaching, so it’s nice to get out and do more of that in the field, instead of getting ready for a demo,” he says. “The participants seemed to really love it when I helped them in the field in past years. When they are out painting during the convention, they don’t know how often faculty are going to get out there and talk to them about their piece. So they are thrilled when you stop by.”

“Moran Morning,” by Bill Davidson, oil, 6 x 8 in.

He goes on, “People want to see the featured artists paint a demo, but they also want to paint because they have been watching it. In the field, I try to do a quick demo and get started on a painting for 20 or 30 minutes, then I walk around to the people near me. This year in Monterey the winds were up to 40 miles per hour, and we had about 25 people tucked down around the rocks near me. They were all having a good time, but also trying to learn.”
Wind is not likely to be one of the challenges April 15-19 at PACE 2016 — it will be held at a posh resort in Tucson, Arizona. “This should be pretty fun,” says Davidson. “What I hear is that the grounds themselves are great to paint on. We may drive somewhere sometimes too, but it won’t make much difference if we do.”
The painter says he plans on getting to Tucson a day or two early to take a look around. He’s painted in the area before, but he wants to reacquaint himself with the colors and feel of Tucson. That doesn’t mean he’ll be changing his palette. “Not many professional artists I know change their palette up a lot,” he says. “Those that have been painting a long time really don’t add new colors when they travel. The more you work with your palette, the more you get used to it. With just ultramarine blue, cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow, titanium white, and viridian, you can get almost every color out there, except for a strange color in the flowers, maybe.” That said, Davidson also has two grays, burnt umber, raw sienna and … two more greens on his palette.

“Elk Habitat,” by Bill Davidson, oil, 11 x 14 in.

“I have an olive green that is close to the shade value in deciduous trees, and a cadmium green that is like green grass on a light plane,” he says. “I have three greens because it’s real fast. I can mix that olive green with cadmium green and get the light value in the deciduous trees. That is really oversimplification, but you need to start with oversimplification because people get lost fast. I find that when I teach it’s easier to have these colors, and I get e-mails from people after workshops saying it really works for them. When you are teaching, the hardest things are shapes and values. You can say that this green is similar to this light, and this color is tree shade, so mix them and get light in trees — and it works. People need to have fun. They can get too serious. You have to convince them to take it easy. Part of it is getting people to have a good time with it.”

“Gallatin Evening Cast,” by Bill Davidson, oil, 11 x 14 in.

Davidson often advises that students paint a value study right on their canvas, then paint over it in the correct colors. This is advice that he often takes himself. “When I paint color over the value study it is always a better painting,” says the Boulder artist. “The less balls you have to juggle at one time, the better off you are.”
Davidson will be offering a guiding hand in the field at PACE, advising participants on these points and more.
To find out more about the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) and to register for the April event, go here.


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