E X P R E S S I V E F L O R A L S 2022
My Expressive Florals summer workshop included a week of 3-hour sessions painting together in the Drawing studio at Bemis School of Art. A small group of artists gathered daily to learn new techniques, explore the tried and true, move in new directions, and lean into their creativity. My approach centers on meeting the student where they are in their journey and help them progress. Take a look at the warmup exercises we did before painting on the canvas.
This is my demo painted on newsprint. First a coat of clear gesso, random drips of acrylic ink, water spritz, let it dry, then add lines. This is intended to help students loosen up and become familiar with floral subjects.
Here is a look at student work for the warmup exercise.
Students painting the finishing touches on their Expressive Florals
Painting expressively exudes happiness. By looking at these paintings you know what I mean. A dose of happiness is something we could all use these days. At least it is my sentiment, and when I look at these photographs I am reminded of each student, their eagerness to learn, their hard work, and focus. From beginner to the more experienced painter, there is always a takeaway from a workshop. First and foremost, I encourage leaning into your style. The way you load the brush, lay it on the canvas, mix colors, experiment, and the images you are interested in painting, are all unique to an artist. The photos I have shared tell the story completely. Each artist has a unique style and taking a workshop opens the door to honoring your creative intuition and learning to trust those instincts.
It was my pleasure to spend a week with this group of students. They exceled in every way!
A painting by Rose, workshop student.
Quote to ponder
A friend shared this quote with me, she said…”All you” I sure hope so!
As creatives…. let’s live this way.
M A R I G O L D S
Gardening is one of my loves. Everything about watching flowers grow and the burst of color they bring to our world is amazing. Where I live the ecosystem is challenging, not to mention the deer and bunnies that stop by for a gourmet meal. They eat everything in sight so flower beds must be fenced off to protect the flowers and vegetables from intruders. It has taken me quite awhile to accept the challenges of gardening inherent in where I live. My perennial garden has had many failures…torch lilies, hyssop, paprika yarrow, pappy mallow cups, cone flowers, butterfly bush, hollyhocks and more. All varieties that were supposed to be either deer tolerant or able to grow in the Rocky Mountain Region. Well maybe that is true, but not in my neck of the woods! I have had to bob and weave, accept the elements here in the valley and make amends. Thus it brings me to the illustrious marigold. Not one of my favorite flowers, not very showy, sort of plain in my mind. Yet, they flourish in the pots on my deck. The deer don’t like them and the weather does not effect them much either. Marigolds continue to blossom after dead heading and bloom to their hearts content. They are reliable, tough little flowers, bringing forth a burst of happy color to a garden or a pot month after month.
As I contemplated these precious little gems it got me thinking about my art journey. How many times have I tried a new supply or technique hoping to discover the perfect expression? Too many to count! I have many art supplies that are practically brand new. They were interesting in the moment but I always find myself going back to what works, what I know, what I enjoy most…painting with acrylics. Just like the marigold, perfect for where I live, so are my acrylic paints. New colors emerge, yes, different subjects, of course, different themes, yes that too, but mostly I find myself using paint. Sometimes charcoal, pencils, or pastels, for mark making but all of the other items I have acquired through the years are not supplies that I reach for. As the gardening season winds down, my flower pot blossoms will have run their course just as the Russian Sage in my perennial garden. Not too fancy, yet these varieties are what you find growing around my house, merely tried and true. They are the ones that work and have success. And so it is with our art. Find what works for you, stick with it, hone your skill with it. A lot of beautiful work can be made with simple supplies. This is my take away from The Marigold in my garden, a constant companion for me, a flower that works with the elements of where I live…and it is simply, a delight. And my approach to art can be the same…stick with what works, and continue to hone my skill with painting, color mixing, value adjustments, and design. Simple, not really, but tried and true, most definitely. I love this lesson I learned from my marigolds and wanted to share it with you. Hopefully it gets you thinking or re-thinking how you approach making art.
So glad you stopped by my little corner of the world, thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
My Floral Expressions art class is underway. We have painted an abstract floral, a still life and finally a magnified floral inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe.
The class was offered to beginning artists through The Bemis Art School on ZOOM and let me say we are having so much fun painting for a solid two hours. That is not enough time to completely finish our work but the “bones” are laid down and a good foundation for students to finish on their own. This is a very ambitious group of artists, willing to tackle some difficult subject matter with gusto.
The floral abstract was inspired by Daniel Phillip. I had the image from a vintage Collectors Edition publication that I picked up in Santa Fe several years ago. Those little magazines are priceless and filled with amazing art. Also Dora’s Dahlias was the painting we used for the still life inspiration. Once again, I hold onto vintage magazines, especially my Victoria magazines form the 90’s. They are rich in imagery, writing, style, art, photography and things I love to look mull over through this season of my life. Not that I have any Victorian home decor to speak of, but the classics draw me in, the celebration of tea, and the beauty of a well curated magazine dedicated to quality. Even to this day I will purchase the French edition since I covet all things French!
Do you have any inclinations toward saving items from the past? Books, magazines, greeting cards, letters, photographs…all of the above? LOL Perhaps there is a longing for nostalgia and the tactile experience of holding something in our hands, something real, in our digital techno laden world of 2021.
Creating art…using our hands to express beauty by brushing paint on a surface, now this is something very REAL. Discovering the nuance of color, the satisfaction of bringing imagery to life that pleases our eye…this is living to the fullest. Take an art class with me or from the numerous options available these days, you will not regret it. And you might just discover how wonderful painting can be. It is the best therapy in the world, letting go, facing your fear, enjoying the FLOW that ensues when a brush is in hand and an array of color awaits. I have a hunch this is the time!
Here is a look at my process… First I painted a demo on 300lb. watercolor paper. Previously I had painted some florals which were not very special, during a workshop I took many years back on this amazing watercolor paper. It was on the supply list for the class and I decided to upcycle, re-purpose, you name it, and paint the demos for my Floral Expressions class. I added a coat of white gesso to cover the image, tore the papers in half and then I had 4 different surfaces to paint on. New life to old work….
Both of these works were inspired by other artists. The abstract by a Daniel Phillip, and the Still Life by Dora Carrington’s painting entitled. “Dora’s Dahlias”. Here are pictures of their work.
My still life painted in class…
New eyes on my painting the next morning prompted some adjustments. First I changed the background leaves by top dahlia, got rid of the straight line…yuck. Then added some leaves below white blossom, worked on the background, left shadow by vessel, and leaves on left of vessel.
Painting anything with blossoms is a great love of mine and a simple still life is very fulfilling. Thinking this is good for now. After a couple of weeks and letting it be, coming back to it, perhaps I will make a few more changes, but for now…voila…it is done.
Student work pictured above, you can see how these students achieved success with their creative process. Great job!
Happy painting friends…looking forward to our next class together.
As the snow falls and temperatures dip well below freezing in my neck of the woods, how about a gift of the garden to make you smile. Don’t get me wrong, winter is ok, but I treasure the beauty of a garden scene. Here is some lovely student work from my adult Secret Garden class I taught last fall, virtually at Bemis…enjoy!
We worked with acrylic paints and our inspiration came from Frances Burnett’s classic book, the Secret Garden. The techniques we explored included abstract expression, collage, silhouette, under painting, Marimekko design (stamping with veggies from around the kitchen), and a garden path.
One of my favorites…Graffiti Garden
Inspired by Marimeko Design
The classics will always be near and dear to my heart, especially The Secret Garden written many years ago. I have read the book to my children when they were little, seen the play at The Denver Center for Performing Arts and now have been celebrating the beautiful themes of the book by making art with adults and children. It is a heartwarming story about friendship and discovery…on many levels. The characters are ones you will remember for a long time and it is no wonder this book continues to be enjoyed by people of all ages today. If you have not read it, do yourself a favor and find it at the library, or perhaps a used copy at your favorite thrift shop or second hand bookstore. Losing yourself in the magic of this book with a hot cup of tea will be a delight…I promise!
This is my painting of the secret garden, in a hand-bound art journal, my favorite place to make art. Lots of color, fun shapes, mark making and layers of expression.
Welcome to a re-cap of The Secret Garden, an art class I taught at Bemis for little creatives in 2018. The class is inspired by the classic book, The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. This summer, 2020 I am teaching it again with a few tweaks, namely it is going to be a virtual class taught online and I can’t wait to meet my new class
. Thanks for stopping by and take a look below at the amazing art created by my students a couple of years ago.
Meet Mary Lennox, the main character…
Painted blossoms in the secret garden…
Graffiti Garden collage and paint…
A peek through the keyhole into the secret garden…
On the last day of class we had a tea party in the courtyard at The Fine Arts Center, it was magical. Since we are going to be working together online, our tea party will be virtual!
We had so much fun making colorful art, learning new techniques, and being together!
Registration is open for 2nd session!!! Click here to reserve a spot…”The Secret Garden” VY 2
Ages 6-12, supply list online
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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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.