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.
Mary started out as a friend of a friend on facebook and then took my Painting for Absolute Beginner’s class, then became a very close friend. Shortly after that class, a couple years ago, I helped her create a painting for a friend. I hadn’t realized that she had not had time since then to pick up the brushes. A lot of life had happened. A few weeks ago I went over to help guide her through another painting. This time she has a new home with a wonderful front porch. We have to paint out on the front porch because she has cats and I have allergies.
A little cramped on that table but we make it work.
Mary lives quite a way from me so we get our painting stints in sporadically and yesterday morning I was able to swing by for a couple hours before her grandson’s party and my reception for her to make progress on this sunset.
We weren’t able to finish yesterday but hope that we will do in the next session. She made good progress. Part of the challenge has been vision issues. Mary recently had major eye surgery. She can see colors better now, but the amount of light is difficult for her and towards the end as the sun came over, she had to resort to the shades.
Still needs a little work in the middle, and all the clouds at the bottom need to go in.
On Tuesday I taught my ‘Painting for Absolute Beginners‘ class at Borrego Art Institute. The gal who does their social media came around and took a bunch of photos on her phone, then obliged by taking some on mine. I don’t often get to be in front of the camera.
Answering questions during the paint-mixing exercise. Disclaimer, I am actually wearing shorts behind the pinny.
Color mixing exercise gives the students a cheat-sheet to go home with.
If you’re in SoCal, I run the class in 3 different venues, plus my studio, or I can come to you in reasonable distance, with a group to teach.
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.
I only had two students in my Paint the Night class last night at the Vanguard Gallery in Moreno Valley, but they both had fun. One of the questions were, what kinds of birds are they? Jenibirds? Blue fronted swifts? This is a very popular image, and sometimes students use their own imaginations and create red-fronted Jenibirds, or once, blackbirds.
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.
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.
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.