Society of Seven demos with Gosch, Sumpter

by Bradley Hartsell

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Millie Gosch simulates how she paints a field study and then later turns it into a larger studio piece (background).

The Society of Seven, a vaunted collective of some of the best Newnanarea artists, is officially in full swing with a series of demonstrations on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

On Oct. 10, Millie Gosch, a Newnan native now in College Park, opened the demos with her showing how she takes a field study en plein air, a French phrase describing the act of painting outdoors.

Gosch considers herself a purist and, as such, refuses to paint from photographs, which is in contrast to some fellow society members, like David Boyd Jr.

Gosch, using a limited palette (one red, blue, yellow and white apiece), showed how she captures the subject matter in the quick-shifting light of the outdoors. She paints onto a small canvas quickly and then goes into the studio to recreate the study onto a much larger canvas.

For demonstration purposes, Gosch painted from a field study of a meadow she had already completed and transposed onto a bigger canvas. Painting may seem almost like lightning in a bottle sometimes, so it was interesting to see Gosch have three paintings (the old study, the new study and the large canvas piece) that were almost identical.

'I'm excited to be a part of this group, people I've known for a very long time,' said Gosch. 'We share a common a passion. And I'm glad to see it in Newnan.'

Tuesday belonged to Brenda Sumpter, who painted a still life of marigolds in a teapot, flanked by grapes and a tangerine.

Sumpter painted on board - not canvas - and mixed on a glass palette, mimicking the techniques she learned from renowned artist Sherrie McGraw this April while taking her workshop.

'She's amazing,' said Sumpter. 'One of the finest painters in America.'

Sumpter talked about her years in advertising and how it ingrained in her to make everything big and bold, to bleed off the page. 'This painting (the marigold still life) is about shrinking and bringing the painting in. Letting there be air,' Sumpter said to the audience of about a dozen onlookers.

Ironically enough, Gosch, who was in attendance for Sumpter's demo, was Sumpter's first plein-air teacher. Sumpter painted the still life fast and loose, in the style of McGraw, leaving portions of board unpainted. When Sumpter kept trying to add to the painting, perhaps fighting her instinct of 'more stuff,' her society colleagues, Sue Christman and Elsa Sibley, urged her to put the brush down. 'It's beautiful,' Sibley told Sumpter.

Moments like these show why the Society of Seven exist and how connected this group is that they opine on each other's work when a fresh perspective is needed. Through the rest of the month, artists like Christman, Martin Pate and David Boyd Jr. will be giving demos, which take place in a storefront at 9 Greenville St. in downtown Newnan.



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