Thursday, October 3, 2013


Classes started last Tuesday and I was happy to see some familiar faces and lots of new, eager to learn faces! It's going to be a fun semester!

I plan the first class to show me where everyone is at and what I will need to do for each student. There are real newbies, no experience in painting or drawing, and really proficient artists sharpening their skills. One of the things that make these classes so much fun is diversity of talent. There were groans from the new students when I announced that the last 30 to 20 minutes of class would be a critique, and smiles from the returning students. At the end of the class and critique there were smiles all the way around. It is a great learning experience for everyone. Not only do you get to see everyone's work, you also get input on your piece and encouragement to get better. I really want everyone involved to leave the class feeling that they have accomplished something. Not every piece of art is a masterpiece, nor is it ever a complete failure, but every piece of art IS a learning experience.

It is important to develop confidence in yourself as an artist. Criticism of your art is not a criticism of you as a person, and should be taken as food for thought and growth for the next piece of art. I am more apt to keep a drawing or painting that didn't work as I am one that did. I want to see where my error was and how I did it so I do not repeat it.

The drawing class had a pretty difficult still life to render, and everyone did a really good job.

The first photo is of the actual set up and the second is the drawing done by Bertha Moore.  Both photo's were taken by Bertha. Doing a rendering of a still life is excellent for sharpening your skills of observation, composition, and values.

In next weeks class we will be working on composition.

Composition: 1) the nature of something's ingredients or constituents; the way in which a whole or mixture is made up. 2) the action of putting things together; formation or construction. 3) a thing composed of various elements. 

What does that mean to you the artist? The ingredients are first, shape and value, then line and color. How these pieces fit together gives a good indication of the success or failure of the piece of art. A good composition brings the viewer into the story and engages them emotionally. It sounds daunting doesn't it, but Arthur Wesley Dow developed an almost foolproof way of learning composition. 

Who was Arthur Wesley Dow? He was an American painter, printmaker, photographer and influential arts educator, 1857 to 1922. In his lifetime art was taught by the time honored approach of imitation. Students learned by copying what had been done before.  Dow broke down the teaching of art to three structural elements:  1)Line, referring to boundaries of shapes and the interrelations of lines and spaces,  2)Notan, a Japanese word meaning "dark, light", referring to the quantity of light reflected, or the massing of tones of different values, and  3)Color, referring to quality of light.  

We will be dealing with line first, creating shapes and spacing, then add Notan. Dark and light massing will reveal the mistakes in spacing.  Color will reveal the weakness of dark and light.  So as you can see these three structural elements are intimately related. You will find that it is much easier than it sounds and the improvement in your compositions will show immediately.

Next week in the watercolor class we will be working on an iris. Ruffled edges can sometimes be a bit of a challenge but in the end you have a lovely painting to call your own! Hopefully next week I will have some paintings to post from the class, so if you finish the daylily I hope you bring it with you to class for all to see and admire.

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