I’ve been rather remiss about posting newer works. This one is not-newer enough to have been hanging in the BAI before I got to posting it. I’ve been posting more on Instagram (#skyscapesforthesoul), but would like to post more consistently across platforms. If anyone has a great recommendation for a tool to allow you to do this, I’m all ears. I’ve heard of ‘hootsuite’, but would rather have a one-time purchase than a monthly subscription that they’re asking for.
This month I had a full class scheduled for my Painting for Absolute Beginners class at Borrego Art Institute. I only accept six students due in part to space, but also because the small class allows me to give more individual attention.
On Monday I emailed my students to check they were still on boards, but one of a group of three had pulled her back and was not sure she was able to come.
So, probably five.
Then the day before the class the coordinator for the group also said that she wasn’t able to attend, and because she was the driver, the third member of the group was also grounded.
So, down to three.
As I left the house on the Friday morning, prepared for three students, something told me to go back and get some extra water pots, just in case. As I was setting up, my phone rang. A lady asked if there was any room in the class, she was on her way into town. The reason she hadn’t called earlier was that she and her husband were rving in Ocotillo Wells, and they have no cell service there for their provider.
Well, as it happens not only is there space, but I have enough equipment with me! So we had a nice group of four students who all learned a lot and had a great day.
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.
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.
Here’s what’s happened and happening at Skyscapes in February.
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.
Here are some photos taken by one of the other gallerists when I was teaching in Borrego Springs Art Institute on Tuesday. The three students, with varying levels of experience, all found they learned a lot from the class.
#1210 “Rising Peach”. Oil on gallery wrap canvas, 12×12″ $100. Currently at the Borrego Art Institute in the Summer Show which runs until October 14th.
Rising Peach is a continuation of the diagonal series. (There are other shape series coming up…..). Yet another beautiful dawn across the Salton Sea. There is more hope now that these dawns will not go away too soon – or at least their reflections in the sea will not dry up, as recently President Obama announced that various agencies that can/should/will actually work together do something about the Salton Sea, rather than just spending money studying it or thinking about it. The key part of this was the inclusion of federal agencies, I guess someone realized that this is not just an issue for Imperial and Riverside Counties.
…of the Colorado Desert in August, go to the kitchen. To be precise, Kessler’s Kitchen, which is in the same building as the Borrego Art Institute in Borrego Springs, CA. There you can dine on some delicious and very unusual pizzas and salads, and look at the four paintings by yours truly hanging on the wall.