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.
We’re doing an underpainting to get rid of the white so in the final painting we’re not strugging with that aspect
We’re painting the sky part of the top coat
It’s easier to paint the bottom of the panel when it’s upside down.
Before you get too excited about my achieving second place with my chalk painting last Saturday in Moreno Valley, it was a very small field of competitors. I also had a small booth at the art fair and my beloved was being the store keeper for me, while I wore off my fingerprints. I discovered fairly early on that our choice of space to set up (chosen because putting Doug under the tree in the shade would allow me to use the umbrella to keep the blacktop I was working on from melting my fingers), was in front of the band. The band (there were several during the course of the day) and the between-bands background music was LOUD. So, to relieve Doug and allow him to walk around and repair his eardrums and sanity, I hurried through my work.
The need for speed was exacerbated by wind which took the umbrella for a tumble and meant I had to chalk with one hand while quickly rubbing the chalk into the now-scorching blacktop with the other. I finished in 2 hours, and apparently was the only one who completely finished, though other chalkers, intending to take until 4pm created larger compositions.
I had a limited amount of blue, so did the surrounding ‘atmosphere’ in red, rather than follow the original, and created far less clouds than on the mixed media painting this was based on. For this it’s more about the message than the accuracy of the map.
“That the world is round reminds us that we are on the same side.”
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 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.
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.
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.
Three things I tell my students, is that it is important to not lick your brush, drink the paint water or to wash the brush out in your wine (/coffee). Primarily this is because of the heavy metals in some of the pigments. Flake white was stopped being produced when it was discovered that lead isn’t good to eat. Cadmium isn’t terribly good for the digestive system either, but it is a metal that produces awesome reds and yellows from different salts; my chemistry doesn’t stretch to complete comprehension of the quinacridone range, but when you know that phthalo (you pronounce it ‘thallow’ – isn’t English wonderful!) blue’s full name is phthalocyanine blue, you might get a hint as to why brush licking isn’t advised.
But science comes to the rescue of art with replacement colors for the cadmium range that don’t contain the nasty wonderful cadmium! Liquitex isn’t my usual brand, but if Golden haven’t started introducing them by the time I’ve used all the cadmiums I currently have, I’ll definitely be giving them a try. Looks like this is only for acrylics at the moment, but something like this will likely catch on once the ban on cadmiums can be enforced because there’s a viable alternative.
Until I’ve completed the move to cadmium-free cadmiums though, don’t lick my paintings either.