In October, I took a painting workshop in Vermont with Eric Aho.
My parent’s first saw Eric’s work at Spheris Gallery, then in Walpole, NH. I really admire the way he uses techniques of “abstract” painting— loose application of paint, obvious brushstrokes— to capture how a landscape really feels.
For our first exercise, Eric had us mix up five color from the landscape, then paint three small paintings in just over an hour. This was a lot of fun and helped me loosen up. Many thanks to Bobbi, another workshop participant, who let me use some of her paper.
Eric’s way of painting is the opposite of what I had been doing. He uses paint straight from the tube, paints all in one sitting, and layers thick colors over one another. As a result, his paintings look like…oil paintings. They have a lot of texture and variety to the brushstrokes, and a lot of depth.
While we were painting, Eric would come by to chat and offer advice. One thing he pointed out was that all of my brushstrokes were about the same size. This wasn’t surprising, given that most of my brushes were also about the same size. “What you need to do,” he said, “is get a great big brush, and a really fine brush, and put those next to each other. That will give your painting more contrast.” Being a Huge Nerd, I thought to myself: oh, he means I need a broader distribution of spatial frequencies. How sensible!
Here is my first attempt to paint in this style:
When Eric came around to look at this one, I lamented that all of my brushstrokes looked pretty similar. Well, he said, that’s because you are holding the brush like a pencil. Try holding it differently, and standing differently. And he proceeded to demonstrate. Can you tell which brushstroke on this painting is Eric’s?