Sunday, March 26, 2017

Oil Painting Lesson Plan #1

Today was the first day of my spring oil painting class for people who have some painting experience. I find teaching to be lots of work (of course!), but very stimulating and fulfilling. 

I've decided to create a post for each of the eight sessions, in hope that some people might find useful information for their own teaching, or for their own use.  

This first lesson involved working with only five values. Orange and blue were mixed to create a neutral and dark color, then this color was mixed with white to make three more values. White was the fifth value. A value for a specific area was chosen by peering through a pinhole, and the value was laid down with no blending- as though it were part of a mosaic. At the very end of the class just a little blending was allowed, but only after viewing the painting from a distance and choosing just a an area or two where it could be helpful.

The goal was to see the big shadow shapes, and to be forced to make continuous comparisons of values across the whole composition. When you only have five piles of paint to work with, you are forced to think in very broad terms. You are forced to simplify. It's a good way to begin a painting, no matter how much detail you might want to add later. 

Here is my example of this approach, followed by some great work by my students:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tousled Tulips

watercolor and pencil 8"x10"

I've been staring so hard at these four tulips and their swirling surroundings that I'm not able to tell if my painting works or not. I sure did a lot of scrubbing out and repainting, making me wonder why I wasn't using oil paints! Aren't watercolors supposed to be a more spontaneous medium? I'm glad the thick paper took the scrubbing. Perhaps the close up of three tulips is more successful than the whole painting? Will I continue with watercolors or turn back to oils? Questions, questions! 

I do know that I tend to work in cycles; I don't like jumping from one medium to another. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Oil Painting Lesson Idea

I want to share a lesson I taught my beginning oil painting students last month, as they seemed to find it especially helpful as well as intriguing and fun. 

Their job was to take a color photograph and turn it into a monochromatic painting. Only a pair of compliments and white were allowed on the palette. Everyone had to premix the compliments to make one big pile, which was fairly dark. Then they made two more piles from this big pile by adding white in larger and smaller amounts. They ended up with just four piles of paint to work with- a dark color, two in-between values and white. The complex photograph with dozens of perceived values then had to be interpreted as having only four. Lots of decision making, less imitation. 

Here is the photo my students worked from, along with four results. 

Below is a beautiful photo of Switzerland taken by my niece Sarah. I felt inspired to try the four value technique, but I went overboard and ended up cheating. I used way more than four values! But I did begin with just four, which helped me get a strong initial statement.

Bethlehem, PA

watercolor and pencil 9"x15"
I haven't been painting, as I've been way too busy lately. For one thing, I moved a month ago to a gorgeous loft-style apartment in a wooded area. I've been teaching drawing and painting classes, plus working two other part time jobs- but now I'm starting to feel settled and eager to get back to it. 

While organizing my new studio situation, I came across this watercolor of Bethlehem, PA that I'd thought was not good enough to post, but now I think it's okay. Funny how stepping back can make an improvement in outlook!