So much science in art

My beginning students learn that there is a lot of science in art.  This is an old article but I kept it to reblog:  A neuroscientist working in an art museum.  I was prompted to blog it today after having a conversation yesterday with a lady who had just completed her masters in psychology and was hoping to consult in the corporate world, rather than enter private medical practice, and to incorporate art into her work.  Maybe we’ll work together on something…..

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A thousand words…

A couple days ago one of my Absolute Beginners students came to the studio for some follow-up lessons.  She had been practicing in the intervening year and had also bought some books containing lessons.  They were fine books and she had learned a lot from them as you can see from the work she produced that she showed me.

Student watercolor work

Some of this students work. Yes, I know it’s a photoshop together, just couldn’t get the right angle for a table-top shot.

Nevertheless, if a picture is worth a thousand words, and a youtube video a million, then sometimes a little bit of extra in-person instruction is priceless. Sometimes I’ve shown students the difference between the brushstrokes they’re making and what they need to do to get the effect they’re aiming for by making the two types of brushstroke on their inner arm. Often it’s also picking up on the slight difference between to two in order to guide them.

Art on Main

Art on Main in Old Town La Quinta is close to the closest show to my house and I’m looking forward to setting up there this coming Saturday.  Come by if you’re in the area.  I’m going to be outside the Grill on Main.

Saturday, Feb. 3, 10am to 4pm
78100 Main Street, La Quinta, CA 92253

Painting of women in Uganda

Featured Painting: And the Sun Rises by Paul Nzalamba with Master Storyteller Lungala Rubidiri


Over 80 artists sell their paintings, jewelry, ceramics, photography, textiles, glass, sculptures and more along Old Town La Quinta’s charming Main Street.
Music by Barry Minniefield from The Voice.
Free Admission & Parking. Come for the art, stay for the day!

Monthly newsletter for February

Here’s what’s happened and happening at Skyscapes in February.

Folded Flamingo

Flamingo watercolor painting

Teach’s Folded Flamingo.

Many years ago I went through a bird-painting phase.  A couple of these have made great subjects for my Monday afternoon class.  This Monday just past, I guided the group through creating a flamingo that had folded its long neck up so it could hide its beak in its wings.  Here’s the group having completed their versions of Folded Flamingo.

student group with paintings

Seven more Folded Flamingo

Student progression.

About 15 months ago, ‘Jo’ took my absolute beginner’s class.  Earlier in the month, she took the class again, not having painted very much in between.  One of the things that I ask at the beginning of the class is what the student hopes to get out of it.  It can help me tailor the class a little to hopefully cover any specific items. In this class Jo was lucky in that she was the only one, so we got to discuss her progress a little more.

She had indeed painted the day before, using watercolor crayons.  The papers were tiny piece of printer or drawing paper – not the best surface.  Jo expressed that she had had difficulty making out what she had painted afterwards and had ended up using ink to define the items painted.  Towards the end of the afternoon, after the standard Shadows exercise, we looked at Jo’s paintings and I thought we could tackle one of them as a larger watercolor and make a more realistic painting.

Working a little larger does help.  This time we used watercolor paper (Canson 140lb cold press) – about 12×9″.  I drew a quick value sketch first on a scrap to outline some of the changes that we would make to make the little barrel cacti look more round, and the rocks “rocky”.  The main adjustments were addition of shadows/shading to bring out the shapes of the cacti and rocks.  I suggested a simple blue sky/purple hills/sandy mid-ground behind the cacti in order to make them stand out from it, rather than a green one of a similar tone.  The cacti flowers didn’t come out as well as hoped – I’m not by nature a floral painter and they were a little on the small side to do much more with than a bit of impressionism.

Jo said her husband thought everything she painted was wonderful, but when he came to pick her up after the class and we showed him the before and after, there was no faking those eyebrows shooting skyward.  Here’s the before (on the right! 🙂 ) and the after.

After and before cactus paintings

Monday’s cactus painting on the right, and Tuesday’s redo with Absolute Beginners class and a little individual guidance.

Conejo Barn

On Monday I taught my regular class at the Trilogy gated community.  I caught a few students working on the last few stages of their exercises.  They all want to remain anonymous so no faces!  The last one is from one student who took it home and completed it later.

student1working

student2working

student3working

student4working

It’s easier to do those wires by painting down, rather than up.

student5complete