Saturday, April 16, 2011
Jennifer's Road (sold)
Original oil painting 14x18"
by Susan Roux
As you probably know, I teach a beginners oil painting class. It's always a challenge to take someone who hasn't painted, often doesn't even draw, and in eight 2-hour sessions get them to paint something they are amazed they produced. Many students are so elated they continue to take classes beyond the initial 8 weeks.
How do I get them to do this?
I begin with a series of exercises. It gives them time to get used to the tools of the trade, mix color, blend color and it also gives us an introduction to the words of our craft. A new language emerges and with it a new way of looking at things. By week two they come to class hyped up and energized telling me of all the colors they noticed in the world that they never saw before. It's almost hard to keep them down in their seats to continue with the day's task. It's like giving sight to someone for the first time. They are overwhelmed at all they've been missing over the years.
Rather than just tell you how amazing my students are, I decided to show you. The above painting is my demo. During five of the eight sessions we work on one painting. I go through step by step along with them, explaining the why behind what we are doing. That way a student learns how to paint rather than just copy what I'm showing them. I love to let students explore on their own, emphasizing that impulse shouldn't be ignored. If you feel like dipping your brush in red, then by all means do it!
Art is a journey in creativity. We all know that. But without knowledge of fundamentals, it can be a frustrating journey. I work very hard with my students to explain in simple terms the necessary elements that will help them achieve what they seek. In landscapes there exists distance. Not only on the land but also in the sky. Turning that 2-demential canvas into a seemingly 3-demential space is a powerful tool.
This is the achievement of a beginner student. Look at the depth, the sun and shadow play and the textures she achieved! A beginner during ten hours of class time. Isn't that incredible?
I've often been asked why I give such a complicated scene to a beginner. Just getting the perspective on this curved road can be a full session to someone who can't draw. I'm not sure why I pick complicated scenes. Maybe I like the challenge. Maybe I know I can pull them through it. Oh, how I love to amaze them by exposing their ability! Simplify, simplify, simplify. The simpler I can explain something, the easier it is for them to achieve it.
When I first hand my students the image we'll be painting, I can see the look on their faces thinking there's no way I can paint this! But by final class, all of the students rejoice at the sight of their work. (To be fair, her photo is quite inferior and the richness in color isn't apparent.) Not only are they able to paint the scene from the lesson, they often surprise me with works they attempt on their own.
Kasey sent me this image. She started it part way through her 8 sessions and completed it afterwards. She spoke of it, but never brought it into class. Just look at the distance she created in her river scene! And to think she's just beginning to paint...
I'm very proud of you Kasey.
I don't have photos from the other students in the class, but if I did their work would amaze you too. Teaching the fundamentals in simplified form has yielded phenomenal results, even in pure beginners.
How are your fundamentals? Are you in need of understanding them in simple form?