Here’s the monthly what’s-happening-in-the-skyscape-world newsletter. Powerful storms! We certainly live in a wacky climate.
Last night I guided a small group through a paint and wine class at Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley. One of my students had already taken classes with me, including the Absolute Beginners class and was happy to work through this painting of winter solstice sunrise across the Salton Sea to hone some of the skills.
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.
For those of you who have taken my Painting for Absolute Beginner’s class, you will have heard me talk about the origins of French Ultramarine.
Recently, there was another blue discovered. Or perhaps you could call it invented, I guess it’s unclear as to whether this blue would ever occur in nature. Personally I think it should either just be Yinmn blue, as everyone is calling it now, or Mas blue, after the original chef. What do you think?
I’m looking forward to it being available in watercolor, acrylic and oil.
Sometimes it’s a big class, sometimes a small one. This month I goofed and brought the painting I’d intended to work with next* month – which is easy to understand when I’d been planning three classes next month and had the planner turned to September. Nevertheless, all the students, one of whom is a returning student, had fun painting ‘The Old Red Overalls’. Hmm, I really need to start picking some simpler subjects. One thing that teaching has taught me is how difficult it actually is for beginners or someone with just a little experience! The student on the left is an accomplished gardener and decided my ‘rows of crop’ were closest to red lettuce. Her crop looked a lot more like red lettuce. Good work all of you!
“Home ahead of the storm” is one of those that I call a ‘true child’. I know, I don’t have another word to describe it, but the explanation is that it is made entirely from leftover pieces of only one refractured watercolor or mixed media painting. This one’s parent is The Setting Sun and it came from one of the iterations that I did not cut, hence the different shapes.