Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Plein Air Paint demonstration Frank Ferrante

On Saturday June 15th there was a free Plein Air Paint demonstration by Frank Ferrante at the Cottage, located on beautiful Lake Lily Park in Maitland. I walked all the way around the lake, figuring a plein air painting demonstration would be outside. "En Plein Air" after all is a French phrase meaning "in the open air". I finally discovered a small sign that pointed to the cottage. Perhaps ten to fifteen artists had gathered to watch Frank work.

Frank is originally from New Jersey and three other artists were from the Garden State as well, myself included. He now lives in Port Orange, Florida. Frank studied painting with John Osborne at the Ridgewood Art Institute. He painted every Sunday with John Osborne outside for many years. The methods he learned were handed down through several generations of artists having begun with American Impressionist Frank Vincent Dumond who taught at the Art Student's League in NYC. Dumond died in 1961, the year I was born.In 1966 Frank Ferrante was stationed at Paris Island and he joined the Beaufort Painting Association.

The demonstration focused on the formal elements of painting composition, color values, structure and form. Emphasis was placed on composition, capturing light and dark shapes, atmosphere and mood while using strong color harmony. Frank utilizes what he calls the prismatic palette which mimics the prismatic effects seen outside. The ROYGBIV colors of the rainbow were arranged across the top of the palette. Anything upright in a landscape would catch the sunlight to become orange. The sky is like a big blue lamp and water reflects the blue of the sky. Frank began with a very rough valve study in which he scumbled blue grey paints onto the canvas to find the darks of the scene. He was painting a path that lead back into a palm tree filled grove.

He then put up a canvas of the same scene that was much more developed. He talked about folding darks into lights and lights into darks. His brush strokes were X's and he worked moist oils into moist. His brush gets plenty of abuse and it's flat shape becomes warn into a point by the time he is done with it. Studies that he does on location are usually smaller and only one in thirty ever becomes a studio painting. He stressed that the darks in a painting are very important.  I discovered that I didn't have my brushes in my bag to finish my sketch! I started putting in some darks using graphite. Then I took everything out of my bag and discovered one abandoned brush in the bottom of the bag. My sketch was saved. The demonstration was much shorter than I expected. After the demonstration, I joked with Frank that his demonstration was like one of those cooking shows in which the finished cake was already baked and under the counter. We both laughed.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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