Thursday, March 4, 2010

Long road

When compared to painting nature, everything man-made takes on a different challenge. Unlike organic forms, these are structured and stationary. Both the mind and the paintbrush discover a change and need to adapt to capture the difference. I recently left a comment about this very subject on Jean Townsend's blog and last night, my students were struck by the difference...

I wanted to focus on the building but thought it would be better to quickly find a few simple elements on the right. "Lets put in the road quickly", was my suggestion. I must say, "quick" was no where to be found in this activity. Those two little ruts that extend only four inches up the canvas took us better than one hour to achieve!

We laughed at how little we had painted. One hour and two stripes!

My students were determined to get it correctly. (I love seeing that determination. Way to go ladies!) No matter how much I broke it down, perspective gets confusing when you put it on a hill, throw in a curve, and have it disappear down the other side. Thank goodness for the "thinner eraser"! Each rut needed to narrow as it receded. So did the space between the ruts. One rut comes towards you while the other approaches at a sharp angle. The mind tells you they are parallel. The hand wants to listen. Over and over, they redid it trying to get it right.

Finally we could move on...

I feared the building, thinking it would take us longer than an entire class after the road fiasco, but symmetry proved simpler. By the end of class, we managed to block in the remainder of our canvas. Everything is so stark and rigid right now, but its necessary when you're trying to teach it to a class. Breaking elements down to be understood by others can be an interesting challenge for a teacher. Last night felt like a mathematical lesson.

Its not the first time I do this to my poor Wednesday night ladies. Last time I had them painting a garden bench that covered two-thirds of the canvas without ever drawing it. Again I wanted the background to be free and continuous, so we painted it before ever trying to find the bench. Its a wonder they stick with me. I continue to push their limits. In doing so, they are really blossoming.

That makes me smile with pride...

Again, way to go ladies!

Posted work in progress oil 18x24" by Susan Roux


  1. It sounds like it was trying for them but I bet they will find the finished result all the more satisfying because of it. Is the sky in the upper right corner completed? It looks perfect just as it is :)

  2. Oh yes buildings, straight lines, perspective they're the opposite of organic forms. Well done on getting that road right!

  3. Peu importe le temps nécessaire pour réaliser le chemin. Tes élèves prennent la bonne voie! Il était donc important pour eux que ce soit la bonne dès le départ. Bises


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