Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Course Starting in April

Painting From Life

I'm announcing a new 12 week course beginning at the Calgary School of Art on April 12. Once again, I'll be teaching a "Painting from Life" course but, because my students are getting so accomplished, I'm asking that new students have some previous painting experience; not a lot, but it would be tough for absolute beginners to fit into the class.

It's wonderful to see the progress of the painters that I've been teaching for the past 1 1/2 years. I don't put all of that improvement down to my instruction, though. I see the positive influence of working with a group as having had a great impact on the individual painters. Often, when someone is unsure of how to proceed, she'll walk around the room, checking out the many different painting styles. Something about this small stroll acts to inspire and reinvigorate that painter and, when she returns to her easel, it is with some fresh ideas. Each of my students is starting to develop a distinctive and unique style. This, I believe, is the goal of art instruction: to help artists find their own voice.

There are still some spots in this class if you are interested in joining.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Inspiring Still Life

Daisies and Brushes
16 x12

William Nicholson

Painting from life is wonderful, but it does have me casting about for subjects sometimes.
In my studio, I have a huge bucket of fake flowers that look incredibly realistic. There are also a few vases and some fabrics from the curtain section of Value Village - a second hand shop. But I'm not a knickknack person, so I don't have many props to go with these still life objects. As well, I find myself casting about for pleasing arrangements.

Sometimes I find inspiration in set ups that others have already done. You can't go wrong with Cezanne's still lifes, for example.
The painting above was inspired by the one below it. I saw this gorgeous, simple still life by William Nicholson at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY last year and loved it. The lighting, muted palette and intimacy of a garden table all created a magnetic atmosphere around this piece. Strangely, I also felt the presence of the painter very strongly in the painting; as if he were still lingering in the lovely moment that he created. That sounds weird, but how else do you describe the intense feeling that only a few paintings give you? I walked right past a lot of spectacular work that day with barely a glance, so it's odd that a few primulas and a pair of scissors should make me stop and gaze with pleasure.

It was this atmosphere and colour harmony that I tried to capture in "Daisies and Brushes". How wonderful would it be if someone, someday, felt the need to stop and gaze at it a generation from now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More on Shipping and Oil Grounds

24 x 36

Happily, my paintings arrived in good shape at the new gallery. Now we're working on getting them to look right on the Artym's website. That's the problem with different computer monitors: I sent images to the gallery which looked correct on my monitor, and these images look washed out and wrong on their website.  Something is being lost in translation, but I'll be darned if I know what it is.  We'll continue to work on it.

The painting above is another one done on an oil ground.  I continue to be pleased with the surface because of its non absorptive quality.  If I don't like a colour or a mark, I can just wipe it back to pure white and try again.  This reversibility has freed me to experiment more than I used to in a painting and has made my studio time very exciting.  Non painters would think I was nuts if they saw me cackling and grinning as I painted and wiped and danced gleefully around the studio, but I know that anyone who's reading this will understand.