16 x 12
My classes at the Calgary School of Art started again this week. Once again I'm teaching Painting from Life. We are going to start with still life, floral and, finally, figures. I like to have a plan for the 12 weeks; something that ties every lesson together. This session will be all about "painting with a goal".
This summer I began to set myself goals for every painting that I did. This seems a bit over the top on the surface, but it served me really well at a time when I was a bit stuck - okay, really stuck. I was indecisive in the studio, not sure of the point of the paintings that I was doing. They all seemed to be covering the same ground in much the same way. I was spinning my wheels and it wasn't a good feeling.
So I decided that each painting had to have a single, clear goal. Several still lifes were done as explorations of backlighting; it's effect on the colour of objects and their edges. The beach scenes were done to teach me how to paint water. I rubbed off a lot of paint on the way to learning that lesson. And the floral above was an experiment in colour and how little of it I could use while still creating the illusion of colourfulness. Every colour in this piece is greyed down and the lights on the orange flowers are actually greys and light greens. Yet it reads as a colourful painting with bright orange flowers. The key to this one was colour temperature changes.
By setting a goal for each painting, I forced myself to figure out how to meet that goal. And in this way I forced myself to learn new things about painting, and, ultimately, to improve. I hope that my students find this practise as valuable as I did.