Southwest Landscapes Fall Session

Here is a re-cap of the Southwest Landscape class I taught this fall.  The students created beautiful paintings and I am so excited to share it with you.

Acrylic Painting Demonstration

Southwest Landscape

Painting the southwest is enjoyable and at the same time an opportunity to discover the nuances of acrylic paints.  My demonstration painting (work in progress pictured above) is of Ghost Ranch, the place where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted her masterpieces.  Here, we are in the iconic painting studio of The Bemis Art School.  Full of natural light ( sometimes makes it hard to take good photos) and a rich history of instruction and creating within its walls…it is a special place.  Every time I enter this studio I am so inspired to carry on the legacy of teaching and creating art.

At the beginning of class we talk about choosing a subject and how the approach will be to develop an expressive style rather than a photo realistic painting.  Acrylic paints are versatile, and vibrant which makes them the perfect choice for colorful expression.  Take a look at the student palettes…

Just look at these yummy colors!!!

When I teach any painting class, I include the art journal as a tool to begin the design process, record color choices and use the blank pages for paint clean up.  Essentially, any paint left on your palette can be spread across a blank page as the initial layer of creating a journal page.  It serves as a springboard for letting your creativity flow and to begin the process of letting go.  Making art journal pages is not the focus of the painting classes I teach, but I love introducing the concept to students.  Here you can see an example of how a student uses the journal for reference.

Most of the students had some art experience yet considered themselves beginners.  From my perspective, they were a talented group!  As you look at their paintings in progress in this next group of photos you will see for yourself how their paintings reflect excellence.

As an instructor, one of my goals is to encourage students to develop their own style by  experimenting with color and brushstrokes, and to allow their creative intuition to lead the process.  This seems to resonate with creatives and it is evident by their beautiful paintings.  Each student approaches their subject with a personal idea and direction for their painting.  My style of instruction is to enhance their process by making suggestions and giving them clues for color and shape. It is rewarding for me to see their progress and how their confidence grows with each brushstroke.

During a six week class, it is nearly impossible to finish a painting.  Usually students are near completion and only have a few final touches to make.  I always ask them to send me a picture once they are finished.  Here is a completed painting for you to enjoy!

As The Bemis Art School undergoes a transition to a new space, I found myself a bit nostalgic when my class ended.  Perhaps it will be the last time I teach in the painting studio.  Sigh….it has been grand!  And no doubt the new classrooms will have a style and ambience all their own.  I am just thankful to be part of the team, the legacy, the arts, and the school.  Thanks for stopping by my blog and thank you students for the joy you bring to my life.

Soon we will see where the next chapter unfolds! 

Southwest Landscapes Re-Cap

The beauty of a southwest landscape by embracing a sense of place and observing the colors of earth and sky, this was our world for 6 weeks.  A group of students from various backgrounds gathered together and shared the experience of making art in the historic art school we call BEMIS.  A few had painted before, others had not, but with some tools, instruction, and confidence each one set out on a painting journey.

The underpainting was a layer of orange which you can see pictured here.  The range of color in the underpaintings was like a rainbow full of a variety of hues. Such is the beauty of mixing color, any variation in combinations produces something different.  The underpainting produced a glow which worked well with the subject matter and also eliminates the stark white blank canvas.

Students used a variety of photographs and pictures of paintings for inspiration.   By developing soft edges, hard edges, texture, color, perspective, line, and shape the paintings began to reflect each individual’s style.  As an instructor, this is my favorite aspect of the process; encouraging the pursuit of style.  Each artist has an intuition with regard to brush strokes, imagery, color preference, and design.  Mastering skills is secondary to trusting the intuitive process… in my opinion.  Somewhere along our journey, this intuition can shut down because of a critical voice, giving it wings again takes courage, persistence, and experience.  I love encouraging this process in my classes.

Each student completed one painting during the duration of the class.  I also incorporate art journal exercises such as thumbnail sketches, an abstract charcoal line drawing, color wheel, simple landscape paintings and a collage landscape on a trifold black paper using my personal stash of gelatin printed papers and altered National Geographic papers.  Here are my samples of these exercises.

The charcoal line drawing with gesso and tint was inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe and southwest imagery.

And the tri-fold collage landscape exercise, front and back with a little Van Gogh inspired sky!

I suggested words to be added on the back side, maybe a quote, song lyrics, any thought or idea that came to mind…

C L E V E R …a little play on words…(Bemis is the school name)  so Jack came up with this..

get it?   beam us…up scotty   FUNNY!!! 

The best ingredient in any class is the people and this group was full of creativity, and a willingness to learn about acrylic painting.  When the session is over, there is a great sense of accomplishment, just look at their paintings!! And also a sigh…hard to see it come to an end.

That’s a wrap.. Southwest Landscapes..wonderful!   Kudos to all, you did an amazing job.  Until we meet again, keep creating, keep in touch, and enjoy what is NEXT.

Expressive Florals at Bemis

Expressive floral painting is all about discovery.  Letting your creative intuition lead the way and learning to trust the path.  This painting was done by an experienced artist and the focus was painting with a palette knife.  It was a new pursuit and look at his success!  We started with a layer of clear tar gel and beaded gel medium, by Golden, dribbled and scraped across the canvas.  Using clear tar gel medium is one of my signature starting points as an instructor and the outcome is always successful. It brings a subtle element of texture to the painting.  The added beaded gel medium by the artist was stunning on this floral painting!

The clear tar gel is easily seen in this photograph and it added a layer of interest to a lovely painting.  The application is unplanned, random, and free flowing.  After seeing the great results of adding the medium, this student said she would like to add more clear tar gel to her canvas next time.  Sometimes taking a risk, moves an artist in a new direction and the process opens a door to new sparks of creativity.

It is a privilege to be on staff at Bemis teaching art!  The joy is overwhelming and I am so grateful for this opportunity.  And now with the Colorado College alliance, it is a top tier venue in all aspects.  My students are talented and creative, with an eagerness to learn and push their art in new directions.  Sometimes we just need to trust that still small voice that says, “This might work…what if I try it?… YES!” It is all about fine tuning our creative instincts and honing this skill is a life long process.

No matter ones age or background, artful expression brings a unique experience to life.  The time melts away during class, and before we know it, two hours have flown by.  It is such a gift to ourselves to slip some creative time into our busy lives which are full of obligation and domestic chores.  Making time for art in any form whether it is as a maker, or an observer never comes back void.  Life is richer because of the experience!

 

“Nobody sees a flower-really-it is so small it takes time-we haven’t time- and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

Making time to paint…opening our eyes to see the beauty in a flower…letting our creative intuition be the guide…holding a brush…finding just the right color…stroking the paint on a canvas…seeing the image unfold…tweaking, highlighting, darkening, pushing ourselves and our art in new ways.  We are never done, we are always on the climb, looking for new vistas, navigating the frustrations and rewards, each time reaching a different level.  THIS is living a creative life!!!  Thanks for stopping by, leave a comment and share your thoughts about the creative journey.  I would love to hear from you.  We learn and grow from one another.  Cheers…hope to see you in class one day!

Expressive Florals Re-Cap

Student work from my Expressive Florals class.  Close up of blossoms painted with bold brush strokes, and texture.

The first layer was clear tar gel, applied loosely across a blank white canvas.  You can see slight traces of it in this photograph of a student’s painting.

I taught the class in the painting studio of the historical Bemis Art School at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.  You can see the top of the FAC in the window.  Lots of space, individual easels and natural light made for the perfect setting.

Before we start painting, several weeks are spent warming up to the shapes of blossoms.  This exercise was done in an art journal; layers of text, paint glazing, patterned tissues and then completed by painting a flower as the finishing touch.

Each student has a personal style.  As an instructor I aim to encourage discovery and allow a student to develop their unique creative expression.  Each of us is wired with creative intuition, we just need to learn to trust it.  This only occurs by actively engaging our creative muscle.  My class, Expressive Florals is a safe place for students to discover their creative language.  It does take time, but just look at these amazing paintings, some students had never painted before!  When there is no pressure, or focus on perfection, we find our natural FLOW.  And when we move out of our comfort zone…that is when the magic happens.

Text can create a lovely layer in an expressive floral painting.  Take a look at what his student created.  She hand wrote meaningful words on a piece of thin drafting paper and added it as a layer.  It was a beautiful and bold addition to her painting.

To start with a blank canvas can be intimidating no matter how long you have been painting.  With the first layer of tar gel, then a light blue grey underpainting, the canvas is no longer blank.  We also add big blocks of neutral color, and then sketch the blossom image with charcoal on the canvas.  This helps break the ice and eases the pressure of beginning the painting.  Also several weeks of fun and useful warm up exercises in the art journal help set the stage for a successful painting.

 

Pushing and pulling color is part of the process.  In other words, darkening and lightening areas to create pops of color.  Expressive painting is a “loose” process, quite different than a botanical painting or the wonderful floral still life paintings of the Dutch Masters.  In my class we paint from photographs, and also I bring in fresh flowers for inspiration.  We are not trying to paint every nuance of the blossom in Expressive Florals.  It is more about expression, brush strokes that come natural and interpreting the blossom in a personal way.

Stencils….yes!  I love to encourage the use of stencils, a serendipitous layer that adds interest but does not detract from the florals.

My demo painting from a magazine photograph.

Please join me for Expressive Florals (A 41).  Next class starts 3/1/18 to 4/12/18, Thursdays, 10-12pm.  Register at Bemis Art School at Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

coloradocollege.edu/fac

Bemis@coloradocollege.edu

Hope to see you in class!!!  And even if you have taken it already, come back again, there is always a new expression waiting to be discovered.