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This three-day workshop promises to strengthen visual sensitivity and creative visual language through the medium of oil paint.
by Theresa Myers
Whether you're completely new to painting or an old hand at the canvas, Michael Orwick's oil painting workshop from March 26 to 28 at the Chamber Community Hall promises to be rejuvenating, fun, and just the break needed to launch into summer with creativity and positive energy.
Orwick, whose work is on display at the Dragonfire Gallery in Cannon Beach, said he knew he was an artist even as a young boy.
"My family was totally supportive," he said. "My dad is a doctor, so for awhile I thought maybe that is the direction I should go. But my parents gave me total support for following a career in art."
That career began as a children's book illustrator, focusing on whimsical scenes. But in the past few years, Orwick has found his true love and artistic calling in landscapes.
"The California Impressionists have influenced me quite a bit," he said. "And that interest led me to the Barbizon school."
The early 19th-century Barbizon school movement emphasized realism and the play of light and dark. Its influence can be seen in several of Orwick's recent works, including the painting of Haystack Rock he did for the 2009 Stormy Weather Quick Draw contest. He admits this classical, representational style may not be in vogue everywhere, but because the style is classic, "these paintings can fit into any setting," said Orwick. "If it's a modern room setting or classic beach cottage, a good landscape can fit the space."
Orwick does paint in plein air, but more often works from photographs. He is also not afraid to add elements to the image that may not be in the original scene.
"I believe in doing what the painting needs," he explained. "For me, painting is telling a story. Even if I'm working in plein air, I will add a figure to the scene if that is what it needs to tell the story."
Orwick also believes in starting each work from the basics. "If a painting is not going well, it's almost always because I haven't paid attention to the fundamentals," said Orwick. The fundamentals of landscape will be the focus of Orwick's March workshop, starting with an overview of light and dark values on the canvas, then color composition and "temperature." Students will learn about mixing colors from a limited palette to achieve dynamic light and shadow effects with lively color and harmony.
"The last part of a good painting is the texture," said Orwick. "The brush strokes, the finishing lines. Those are the elements that go down last, but they make the painting unique and put the artist's signature style on it."
Orwick says he is looking forward to the workshop. He and his wife, Gabriella, and their 5-year-old daughter, Elena Grace, are frequent visitors to Cannon Beach and the couple have a cottage in town.
"Elena shares the studio with me," he said with a laugh. "She has her 'gallery' at grandma's house."
"I love to teach art," continued Orwick, who currently teaches a class at Clark College in Vancouver, Wash. "I use a limited palette in my classes and keep it pretty simple. But that's how I paint, too. I generally use a small number of brushes and keep plenty of paper towels on hand. Because I keep it simple, participants in the workshop can expect to finish a painting over the course of the three days."
Orwick emphasized that a person does not need to be "artistic" or "gifted" to enjoy painting, or even to be good at it. "Anyone can learn to paint," he said. "It's all about learning the fundamentals and telling a story."
Orwick's paintings have been in galleries in Cannon Beach for the past eight years and are currently in the Dragonfire Gallery. He also has work in galleries in Lincoln City and Seattle.
To obtain more information about Michael Orwick, visit his Web site at michaelorwick.com. To register for the workshop and obtain a supply list, contact the Dragonfire Gallery at (503) 436-1533.
Tuition for all three days is $250, which includes an early evening reception on March 27 at Dragonfire Gallery. The workshop schedule is March 26 through 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.