Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Still life, active painters

I met with my oil painting students for the first time yesterday at the Calgary School of Art. It's a diverse and dedicated group of painters, most with some oil experience but some without.

We dove right in with a still life painting, beginning, as I always do, with a transparent underpainting. The things that I found myself stressing throughout the class were: colour outside of the lines; stand back from the work; and hold your brush at the back, like a wand rather than near the bristles like a pencil.

I see that these are some of the ways that I achieve the looseness that I strive for in my work. If I hold the paintbrush near the bristles, I create a tight painting, best seen from up close. But if I hold the brush way back on the handle and stand an arms reach from the canvas, the work stands a chance of looking loose and spontaneous. It will come together coherently at a distance and melt into individual brushwork and colour up close. When lots of people are painting in this manner in one room, it looks like a graceful, old world dance. Everyone is stepping up to the canvas, marking it, and gliding back to have a look.

The results of this first class were amazing. I've posted a couple of them above and will post more as the class progresses.

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