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.