Sunday, April 23, 2017

Online Class: Painting Brilliant Colors (Nancy Medina)

I signed up for another online class, "Painting Brilliant Colors" by Nancy Medina.  Nancy's art is similar to Dreama's - very colorful and impressionistic.  The format is also similar.  When I traveled to Texas with Ron last month, I watched the first lesson - painting irises.  My attempt at the painting was a total failure, though.  I put it in the hotel trash.  And so far - although all six lessons have now been put online - I have not done any others.  Like Dreama's class, there is a year to finish the course.  So that's something I will work on between now and then.  Nancy's painting are almost exclusively floral - and I would dearly LOVE to be able to paint flowers well.  As I move through the year and try different lessons, I will post updates.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

An Acrylic Painting Class

I'm currently taking a weekly acrylic class at the clubhouse in a nearby neighborhood.  I like the teacher, Janet King; she's a great artist.  She's very methodical in teaching, and that is good for me.  The first painting was of a single tomato.  That one was pretty simple.  The class is two hours long, and it took me one class session and part of another one to finish it.  I particularly like the stem on the tomato.

"Tomato" acrylic on canvas panel, 8 x 10, September 2016
The tomato was done last fall.  I had taken two classes out of the eight-week series when Lily relapsed. Actually, Larisa and I were taking the class together.  The night of the second class, Larisa came to class and told me that she'd taken Lily to the pediatrician because of some suspicious symptoms, and her blood work had come back a little wonky.  So that is where I first learned that Lily might have relapsed.  It was a day or two later before the relapse was confirmed.  Larisa and I dropped out of the class since our world was turned upside down for so long.  Things have leveled out a little now, and I registered for the class again this spring, and I picked up where I had left off.  I'm hoping to convince Larisa to take it with me again in the fall.

The first class of the spring series, I started a study in black and white.  I finished it this past week.  As I worked on it, I kept thinking that the fabric didn't look like fabric.  However, now that I softened up some of the edges and deepened some of the shadows, it looks pretty good.  It still doesn't scream, "This is draped fabric!" but it's not bad.   It was a helpful learning experience.  Janet is very good at guiding the learning artist!  After using oils so much lately, it was a change to go back to acrylics again.  Blending is certainly easier with oils.

Acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14, April 2017
The next project for this class is a bowl of pears with a glass of wine - and another draped cloth!  So far I've blocked in the base colors and have almost finished shading the pears.  I need to finish the shading and do some highlighting. In class next Thursday, Janet will show me how to paint the wine in the glass.  This will probably be the last painting I'll finish for this series. I had to miss two sessions when we were out of town.  The sessions are only two hours long.  So not a long time to paint.  There are only two more classes left - and finishing this painting will take up those sessions.

Acrylic on canvas panel, 11 x 14
What I like about Janet's style of teaching:  She is more detailed, and I'm a detail kind of person.  I enjoy working on exact shadings and lines.  It's all part of discovering what kind of art appeals most to me.  While I enjoyed the brighter colors and free-flowing (and very quick!) art of Dreama Tolle Perry and Nancy Medina, there is a satisfaction in drawing and then painting realistic scenes, too.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Online Class - Once Upon a Time in Provence (Dreama Tolle Perry)

Back in the winter I decided to take a six-week online class by Dreama Tolle Perry - "Once Upon a Time in Provence."  Dreama's online classes include a lot.  Some of it wasn't for me.  For example there is a long video each week of a pretty scene - a field of flowers, for example, with accompanying soothing music.  It is for meditation.  A little too touchy-feely for me - but Lord knows I could use a little softening.  So that's not a bad thing.

The core of the series, of course, are her painting tutorials.  They're so very well done - with reference photos to download.   There are journaling prompts, recipes for French treats, and a video each week of Dreama exploring and talking about various places in France.  I enjoyed the exploration videos - of a winery, of an antique market, of a little village.   However, I'm just not going to watch a video of a field of flowers and meditate.  And I have enough ideas of things to journal about, and so those suggestions (except for one) weren't helpful to me.

One journaling idea that Dreama showed DID appeal to me.  She has a painting journal in which she uses watercolors to sketch something and then write about it.  I bought watercolors and a sketch book - and I sketched/journaled ONCE.  LOL!  I intend to do it more.  It's just not at the top of my priority list - which means I probably won't do it much.  I can see it would be helpful in both documenting one's life and also in improving one's art.

The reason I wanted to take the class is because I love Dreama's colorful impressionistic painting.  I eagerly waited for the classes to start, and each week (except for week 6) I followed along and painted my own version of that week's painting.  I loved watching her paint and listening to her explanations of the whys and hows of what she was doing each step of the way.  I felt it gave me a good basis for oil painting.

I had varying degrees of success.  Dreama uses oils - and I memorized her palette almost immediately.  I still use her method of using transparent paints to do an under-layer, and then the opaque paints for the top layers.

The first week, we painted a series of French pastries on small gesso boards.  I think it was helpful to start off with small paintings of single objects.  Here are my paintings for week 1:





For week 2, we painted a flower-adorned doorway.  This painting makes me happy.  I struggled with laying one paint color on top of another.  Oil paint doesn't dry for many days.  So, in order to finish a painting "alla prima" (in one sitting) one must learn to layer wet paint on wet paint.  I'm still working on that.



Week 3 was a basket of cherries with sunflowers.  Yes, sunflowers - my nemesis!  And these look amateurish.  However, as I remind myself often, I AM an amateur.  So that's okay.  I like the basket in the background and then the front basket of cherries. Who knew leaves would be difficult to paint?!



Week 4 was a chair in a garden with roses on it - and with an antique watering pitcher beside it.  I could've worked more on the roses and leaves - and the spout of the watering pitcher.  However, overall, I'm pleased with it.


Week 5 we did a field of poppies.  This LOOKED like it would be simple.  It wasn't.  However, after having it sit for a few weeks and then coming back to look at it again, I like it much better than I did initially.



I haven't done Week 6 yet.  It's an outdoor scene of a French cafe with tables and umbrellas - and lots of flowers.  I will get to that eventually.  The course materials will be available online for a full year.  So I have till next March.

Overall, I learned a lot through the online course.  With the private Facebook group, I was able to see other participants' paintings each week - and some people are just now beginning the course.  So each day there are various paintings to look at - and it is really helpful to see how so many different artists paint the same scene.  I've learned a lot from the other people in the group.

There were also bonus photos provided each week that we could paint. One week, I tried a bonus photo.  Here it is:


I love every part of this painting - except the flowers.  I am really struggling to make realistic flowers.  However, I love that I was able to get the clear vase to look right.  And, of course, I still need to work on making realistic leaves.  

There is so much material available.  I could probably paint for months just from Dreama's online course.  However, I'm not sure that style of painting is for me.  That's the value of taking classes from a variety of people.  While I LOVE Dreama's paintings, I discovered that I'm not really happy with my efforts to paint in that style.  This is all part of the learning process.  

When Ron and I made a trip to Texas, I took my painting supplies and painted while he was at his competition.  I threw away my first painting - it was truly horrible.  I tried to paint irises.  Yikes!  Then I decided I wanted to do a country house with clothes hanging on a line - and I found a Dreama painting of one on Pinterest.  So I used that as a guide.  Bleh . . . .   There's so much I could improve, but I just don't like it enough to want to work on it anymore.  It reminds me of a grade school kid's coloring book.

Dreama just re-opened her first online painting course, "Dream, Love, Paint" this week, and I'm tempted to sign up for it.  That course was first available last year.  However, it is pricey, and I'm not sure I really would benefit from a second Dreama class.  I thought since she'd already made lots of money on the course the first time, that the price would be lower for the second go round since the material isn't new - no new investment of money for filming and producing the course.  Nope - no discount for second tier subscribers.   She's got a good deal going with hundreds of people paying hundreds of dollars for each online course.  It's good quality stuff, but I think probably one course is enough for me.  If it weren't so pricey, I'd do it, though.

I'm signed up for lots of other, different art classes, workshops and courses.  I'll write about each one is future posts.

Little Chickadee and Apples

Today I painted a bowl of apples with a little black-capped chickadee sitting on one of the apples. It is similar to another painting I did a couple months ago.  Here is the painting so far.  It is unfinished, obviously.  I have to finish the chickadee - and work more on the bowl, apples, and background.  I am really enjoying this painting.  Looking at it now, I see that I've got the background totally wrong.  Since the light is coming from the right side, I need to put the yellow on the right, and the darker blue and purple on the left side.  One thing I really enjoy is using the side of the brush to get texture on both the background and on the bowl as well.  I will post the finished painting underneath this one.
"Little Chickadee with Apples" Oil on Gessoboard, unfinished, 9 x 12

(update - 4/22/2017)  I think I am finished with this one.  I took out the lip on the bowl, did more shading and highlighting on the fruit, scraped off and re-painted the background, and finished up the bird.
"Little Chickadee with Apples" Oil on Gessoboard, 9 x 12
I turned off the light in the room because the light kept reflecting off the paint and making it look like it was white in places where there was no white paint!  In person those reflections are nice, and I like them.  However, in a photograph, it gives a distorted image.  Thus, this photo is a little dark - but at least there's not a lot of weird lights on it.  I think I will take another photo with the lights on so it shows up a little better.  And looking at it now, I see that the bottom of the bowl is wrong.  Don't know how that happened. LOL!  

Sunflowers Have Stumped Me!

I love sunflowers, and would love to paint them beautifully.  I've tried them several times with varying degrees of success.  Mostly I have NOT been pleased with the results.  So yesterday I decided to try a single stem - one flower and try get some depth and texture to it.  Below is the result.  It is better than some other tries - but I'm still not happy with it.  I imagine I will put this back on the easel tonight or tomorrow and add more shading and highlighting.  If repetition is the secret to improving, then I will eventually be able to paint sunflowers that I like.  I will keep working on it.  If I work on it further, I will post a photo of it below this photo.

(4/22/2017)  So I DID work on it more last night. I added more leaves and did more shading and highlighting.  I still don't like it - and that's the benefit of doing a small painting - I can try different things, and if I don't like the results, it's no big deal.  
"Sunflower," Oil on canvas panel, 5 x 7




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Catching Up!

After many months "off" of blogging, I'm back at it.  I have many reasons for letting things slide since I started this blog almost a year ago.  The major one is a bummer, to put it mildly.  My sweet granddaughter, Lily, relapsed with leukemia last fall - after over 5 years of being off treatment from the first go round.  There was such a minuscule chance of relapse happening after that long off treatment - but still, it happened.  She will go through over two years of treatment.  I hate that her childhood and now teen years have been so affected by cancer.  However, as we all learn, there are things we cannot control.  I would take the cancer for her if I only could.  I can't, though, and so all I can do is be there for her and for my other granddaughters and for my children.

And while I have certainly painted since then, I just haven't had the heart to write much about it.  So I will do some catching up here about projects I've done in the past few month.  I've taken some art classes and had some art lessons.  I've painted a good bit - trying new techniques and styles.

What got me back to blogging was reading and thinking about daily painting - painting small sizes, with limited content - and daily.  Alla prima - completed in one session.  By not investing a lot of time and effort into each painting, the artist is able to do more experimentation, and thus learns what works and what doesn't work much more quickly.  I will grow into my "style" of painting more quickly as well.  I read recently that an artist must paint regularly for at least three years before even beginning to discover his/her own unique style.  If that is true, then I'd best get busy!

One of my favorite paintings so far is a small painting of a Carolina Wren.  I have it hanging in my newly designed upstairs art studio.
"Carolina Wren" - oil on 5 x 7 canvas panel,  February 2017
It's on a small 5 x 7 canvas panel.  I like the background of this painting - the bright colors make me happy.  He a chubby little wren - peering out at the world with new eyes and planning his adventures.  I like it!  This little Carolina Wren is the first painting I'm willing to sell.  It's original, and I like it.

Paint Us! Paint Us! - a painting by Candy Crawford Day

One of the blessings of getting involved in the art community is the opportunity to make connections with other artists. I once wrote that p...