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.
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.
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.
Monday’s cactus painting on the right, and Tuesday’s redo with Absolute Beginners class and a little individual guidance.
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.
It’s easier to do those wires by painting down, rather than up.
On Friday I ran the Paint-the-night event at the Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley – and had 11 students, many of whom knew each other, so they were enjoying the evening together. We painted a scene from an open road through fields in the Ojai area – a painting I’d completed in watercolor many years ago and thought would work well as a paint night subject.
Filling in the grassland.
One of the thing that I tell students at these evenings, is that their painting is not going to look exactly like mine – which is why art forgers are paid so much.
Fences going in.
However this group all got really close to the painting we were working from! The main difference was that I had yellow ochre deep – vs yellow ochre which I usually work with, and as I hadn’t used this before, I hadn’t realized how dull this color is compared to regular ochre. I figure I learn something in every class too, so this was it for this one!
Most of the graduates. One had to go home because her baby was crying.
Three concentrating on making round blue blobs into birds.
Last night there were three students at the Paint-the-night evening at the Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley. I’ve guided a different group through this painting before, in case it seems familiar, but they were all first time bird-watchers. They all had a lot of fun, and are looking forward to a different painting next month. If you’re in the area, and you’re interested, it’s on June 23rd. A great way to celebrate a TGIF.