Fieldwork with Robert Bateman on the first day of the Workshop
17 cars full of artists followed Bob Bateman out into the Torrey Canyon area east of Dubois, Wyoming, to learn how Bob conducts in his in-depth field research for his large paintings. For the next 2 hours Bob conducted a detailed study of the landscape pointing out an amazing array of subtle details in the high desert vegetation, unique qualities of morning light and cast shadows, as well as his artistic decision making process that he employs to take note of all of these observations and assemble them into painting ideas that he then utilizes.
Bateman’s main emphasis to artists was to simply open your eyes and actually study all the features of a landscape that you might eventually use in a painting. Study the types of plants, both in the shadows as well as the bright light. Make a photographic record of the types of Lichen on the rocks as well as the different types of rocks. Pay attention to how the morning light illuminates the shapes of the big rocks as well as small. But most of all… awaken your artistic instincts and begin to visualize how you might utilize these various elements of a landscape. However… sometimes… it may be only one tiny portion of a much larger landscape that you eventually settling on in your painting.
Although this was only the very first hour of the Workshop… this large group of artists exhibited a keen level of perception and creativity, asking very precise and thoughtful questions, taking detailed notes both of what Bob was sharing with them, as well as their own minute study of the terrain. And photographing composition shots as well as detail shots of various regional plants that Bob identified as he worked across the landscape.
We then moved the group onward, further up in to the Torrey Canyon area. There is a rather large Osprey nest sitting in the top of an old dead tree that has been there for many years. What was amazing was that as we rounded the curve and approached Bob said… Wow… look… I think I see something in the nest!
And sure enough… as we came to a stop about 50 yards from the nest, the whole group quickly got out of their cars and assembled quietly around Bob with their cameras all pointed at the nest! And almost on command… here came the mother Osprey… with a large fish in her talons… to feed her large juvenile in the nest.
Some days things just work!