Friday, May 9, 2014

Best of: Beginning Painting

This semester I taught a painting class for non-majors.  In general, it was a good time and group.  I loved to watch the work change with each painting and also their attitudes.  Everyone starts out wanting to make a masterpiece.  They quickly get frustrated to the point of wanting to drop the class.  And then they settle in, listen and believe me when I say that painting is hard and they need to take risks and make shitty paintings and all of the sudden some really interesting things come about.

Here are a couple of my favorites in chronological order of the semester:

We started with grayscale painting and palette knife.  No details allowed.  They wanted to die at this point.

Then we moved to complementary color with palette knife.  This was helpful in forcing them to learn how to make chromatic grays.  But they still hated me at this point.

Then I had them make collages of paintings that another painter had made.  The top one was originally a Ken Kewley, the bottom, Yael Scalia.  By isolating the task of color mixing they were able to loosen up and work on this without getting too caught up in the placement of things.  

Then they painted the painting.  I debated doing this, I don't always love the idea of a 'master copy' but it gave them great confidence and as a picture they had looked at so closely, they were able to really understand the structure and shapes that built the painting.

Then we did a lot of still life work.  At this point, the idea of composition, paint quality and color are starting to be understood, while maintaining an individuality:

Then back to value for portraits.  Some students loved this, some really hated it.

Then color portraits:

Then we discussed interior spaces:

Luckily enough the weather was beautiful and we spent the last week on the back porch doing landscapes:

And finally they brought in a painting that was multiple sessions, any subject but from life, for their final:

This is the work of at least 12 different students, unfortunately I missed about 4 students work for photographing.  But I think (and hope) they got a basic understanding of how to build a painting, from paint application to color mixing to composition to scale, shape, value, light, space, that they can take with them in making future paintings.  But also a comprehension of their own interests in making a painting, the process of it and how they, specifically, look at the 3-D world and translate it onto a flat surface.


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