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Interview with Dave Santillanes, our PASW 2019 Judge of Awards and Workshop Artist

February 17, 2019 3:04 PM | Nancy Tyler (Administrator)

Q: The South Texas coastal area is different from the mountains that inspire your passion.  Have you painted and/or visited the hot, humid, windy, and mostly sunny Texas Gulf Coast area before?

A: I’ve visited the coast (Port Aransas), but never painted there.  Yes, quite different from the Rockies but whenever I go to a new place the “ newness” itself becomes exciting and inspirational.  

Q: What is your method, or steps, of "separating the cream from the milk” when judging a large show?     What do you look for?

A: When I'm jurying a show the first thing I look at is "design".  Whether it's an abstract or a representational piece, an artists’ ability to create movement and balance through the arrangement of shapes within it serves to either draw the viewer in or drive them away.  And once I'm drawn into a piece by the overall design the second thing I look at is what is the story or mood and how well is it portrayed.  And does it work in harmony with the composition to enhance the overall concept?   Finally, determining how well the concept is portrayed relies on Execution…technical skills like draftsmanship and paint quality.  So naturally these become vital in measuring the ultimate merit of a painting.

Q: What is one of your pet peeves on judging?  

A: Only one I can think of is with online jurying… Finding that the actual painting doesn’t quite live up to the digital file.

Questions about the workshop in the DFW area:

Q: How do you like to structure the workshops?     

A: My favorite workshop format is my Plein Air to Studio workshop.  We paint outdoors and then bring our reference materials (photos/plein air studies) back into the studio to design a studio painting.  I begin with a slideshow called Capturing the Atmosphere: An Introduction to Color Relationships in a Landscape.  It helps define some terms and get everybody speaking the same language.  And then we get outside to paint a couple times before getting back to the studio to discuss ways of redesigning them into larger pieces.  Taking an idea through to the “end game" helps everyone better define what they need to capture in the beginning.  And we realize everyone’s perfect plein air painting experience and result is quite different. 

Q: What specific area of painting will be your focus during the workshop? (ie. composition, brushwork, edges, etc.) 

A: Learning to create atmosphere and depth is the overriding principle that I cover.  But within that concept, I also cover just about every major aspect of creating a landscape painting (Composition, Color Relationships, Edges, etc.).

Q: What little bit of advice can you share with a discouraged painter who is technically adept but is struggling to achieve that “Wow" factor?

A: Focus on the statement.  Landscape painting is more than rendering a scene precisely but it’s about describing how we feel about that scene.  And with this approach, sometimes Technical ability can get in the way since often times the simple statement has more impact.  It’s quite the irony… The longer we paint the more technical ability we gain, and the more we are able to do.  But ultimately it’s less that’s usually required not more.  Although I will say this, it takes quite a bit of skill to be brief.

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