The best way to start painting with watercolors

… is using pen and watercolor wash.

We all want our art to be great and impressive. However, if you are new to some medium or absolutely new to drawing and painting, you have to bear in mind: nothing happens right away and with the first brush stroke. I have had absolute beginners who were somewhat disappointed that their first piece of art wasn’t exhibition quality. Well, that is normal.

Every skill takes time, efforts and work.

Creation of drawing or painting involves lots and lots of information. Some people are courageous by nature and love to experiment, and that is a very good start. Some people are perfectionists and they believe everything they do must be either perfect or they are ready to give it up; and that is a completely wrong approach.

My personal attitude towards something new in painting: different subject, medium, tools or technique never focuses on perfection. I focus on potential. Something might work out and something might not. There will be easy parts and probably difficult parts. That way. I call this attitude: let us see what happens.

Progress is usually gradual. That is why we start with simple things and move to more complicated things.

Pen and watercolor wash is a great technique for beginning watercolorists. Some like it so much that they stick to this technique and turn it into their personal style.

If you are insecure about drawing lines with pen, sketch them in using pencil. You can draw over with pen and delete everything else. We have now clean drawing in black ink, and the white paper is not damaged.

Anything can serve as a subject: from your morning coffee cup to flowers in a vase or at the fence, from a bird at your window to sprouting vegetables in a garden. Any scene with some object is good, but flowers look extremely nice when done in pen and watercolor.

When somebody says they cannot draw, I don’t believe that. Most often that means they tried 1 or 2 drawings and these drawings were not splendid. So, they make a conclusion that they cannot draw. Talk to me after 200-300 drawings. That is a decent start. It is also much easier to point out what else one should do in order to create better art when they have done some attempts.

Pen and watercolor flowers and spring scenes

Flowers are extremely suitable subject for this type of watercolor application

Apple blooms in pen and watercolor: great starting subject

Birds fit in this category, as well

Spring mood with butterflies: excellent subject for beginners in watercolor

This exercise is for absolute beginners

Why to start with pen and watercolor? It is forgiving, it is easy and fast, and it allows learning watercolor application more effortlessly. The pen lines provide additional support. It is a flattering technique since practically any painting or drawing looks good regardless of how sufficient one is with watercolor only.

I have done numerous pen and watercolor paintings over years, just because it is fun, it is easy and looks fantastic.

White and pink flowers to enjoy the presence of spring

The best part of being able to create is probably that we only depend on our intentions and goals. There are no limitations in subjects or ways to create something. It is almost an absolute freedom, and pretty much nothing but our personal situation can be a set-back.

Freedom in creation means doing what one wants and prefers.  If it is technique that doesn’t work for you yet, you will just have to practice more.

I meet all the time people who think creating a painting is extremely easy. Most likely, instructions that say: paint like a master in one hour or time-lapse demos where a few hours of work are squeezed in just 1 minute make somebody believe that a decent size art takes only a few minutes. Well, try to paint just a wall or better start with smaller surfaces like a door. Even that takes time.

Creation takes time and efforts. When somebody looks at painting they sometimes doubt how that can possibly take 2 or 3 weeks working every day for about 6 hours. It depends on medium, definitely. Acrylic is much slower medium than watercolor. Whenever some part is dry, it is almost as if starting everything from new. Acrylic is much slower than oils also. That is why it takes a lot of layers and building up color and value.

The attitude totally changes when somebody tries doing painting themselves. There are people who believe that not that attractive first layers are sign of a hopeless art. That is profoundly wrong. I sometimes demonstrate how we can change and improve any painting (that includes my own art) by just adding dark shades and highlights or modifying perspective and number of details or elements. In that regard, acrylic is very forgiving and very user-friendly. The only limitation is time we spend on some art and time we are willing to spend on it. When it is a small painting, I do not feel always I want to continue working on it. Our personal attitude and preferences change over time, as well. That’s no surprise that we might not like subject we adored a while ago or we like colors we hated before.

That is normal. That is progress one or another direction.

Gallery view

Having painted blooms all around makes one feel fantastic. Even when my health is giving glitches, it’s a pleasure to be in the gallery and enjoy the elegant lines and uplifting colors.

If you never tried to create any art, it is a wonderful time to start out. The sketching season will be on soon, and that is just a pure pleasure being outdoors and literally absorbing the surrounding life, nature and beauty.

I hope to get some followers back since I lost of all of them while migrating the blog. I don’t think I have set up even all buttons yet, so, everything will come, just give it some time.

How drawing and painting teaches us life and boosts mental fitness

Creative involvement in drawing and painting is one of the best things we can do in order to increase the brain activity, improve memory (not only visual) and become more confident, self-aware and efficient with making decisions.

How so? Every line and brush stroke we put down on paper or canvas comes from the brain impulses and activity of neurons at certain parts of the brain. Your hand doesn’t move on its own, it’s guided by our perception and the ability to transform visually or with other senses perceived information into individualized personal experience which is reflected as you draw or paint. It is a very complex process, and we tend to think there are mysterious powers of some kind involved. I sort of want to remove the magic aspect from creativity, just to keep things simple. Inspiration will add the magic, but we have to start from the basics.

Most people do not see the surrounding world as an artist does. So, the first task is learning to recognize all the multiple aspects of transforming a simple visual image into art that exhibits the artistically applicable features of this image. How do we do that?

Anything we draw or paint must find some echo in the storage space of our imagination. Such space of stored imaginary images is present within any memory based on associative and a priori acquired knowledge. Anything we create always relates to our fundamental knowledge of this world. Yet, the drawing or painting we are doing has SPECIFIC OBJECTS, VERY SPECIFIC ITEMS, a VERY SPECIFIC THEME and ATMOSPHERE. It is a scene like no other because it always presents individual features. No two apples are exactly the same, now flower copies the other one exactly line by line, vein by vein and trees come all in very various shapes, not to mention faces, landscapes or other scenery.

Since most people who learn painting or drawing believe that getting all information from the outside and simply following somebody without making their own decision will do the job, first artworks usually do not come out that great. While we are sketching or blocking in the basic shapes or lines, we should already try to decide why everything is where it is, and why composition evolves as it does. The reason we place our objects based on some principle on our paper or canvas is deciding early and planning for effects which we create later.

Adding paint or other elements is always making decisions: first about values, then about shapes, edges, washes and eventually we need to apply color if it is watercolor or acrylic or oil painting in color. Our brain has to make these decisions fast. Most mediums require using relevant timing. If we hesitate too much in some watercolor layers, it simply is too late to achieve the type of wash that makes such painting outstanding. If we are too slow, the acrylic layer we worked at is already dry or tacky and we have to return to it later.

Some images from recent art classes

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Blooming in studio

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On the easel: beautiful subject

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Natalia joined us just recently: very talented girl

There are two main things blocking our ability to proceed with painting or drawing when somebody attends or watches a class: we believe that instructor has made all decisions for us and our task is to blindly follow and to repeat what we see; and we are trying to do everything without any knowledge of why. There is no reasoning, no decisions which arise from our current activity.

For instance, when asked what he or she is doing with some particular part of painting, a very frequent answer is: “I don’t know”. How come? You have to know why you want one part dark and how to achieve that, you have to decide whether that particular object is small or large, has lost edges or sharp edges. That is, basically, we have to decide what exactly and why exactly every time we do something with our painting or drawing.

The biggest trouble maker is simple, aimless brushing around, moving paint all over until everything what there was is lost. That comes from not making a decision. When we decide that clouds are large and grey, we act to achieve this. It’s obvious that only acting based on decision can contribute to implementation of our intentions.

The instructor or art teacher isn’t a magician; they cannot affect directly and immediately the way your brain works. They hope you pay attention to what they say and demonstrate and you will make your own decisions based on this advice. However, if you do not answer for yourself why, what, when and how, the progress is noticeably delayed. Therefore, I also advice doing value sketches. This does not slow one down, but helps tremendously with planning and deciding on what, where and what way.

Eventually, the decision making we learn in classroom makes one much more efficient in other areas of life; hence, everything should be based on decision, not impulse and lack of thinking, so that we do not have to admit: I don’t know why I am doing this. You have to. Unfortunately, nobody can provide you with a dose of understanding perspective, values, shapes, contrasts, layouts and other elements as a capsule or tablet to simply swallow and apply. Everybody has their own ways of making the necessary decisions and they should arrive to this understanding on their own, based on advice, recommendations, techniques and principles teacher, demo or class has provided with.

2 new still life paintings for sale

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This was started 4 years ago, oh well, time flies

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Recent study

Lifeschool post has some suggestions on how to avoid preventable accidents and also shares some stories of people who required lengthy recovery: Accidents, bad luck, etc

How to start and achieve good results painting with acrylic

I have spent thousands of hours watching how students start out with their paintings and I have also been beginner many years ago. Therefore, I am aware of tough things which we experience when using such a medium as acrylic. Especially, if this type of paint is a completely new to you.

Acrylic paints are very friendly. No smells, no known allergy causing components. I would advise people with sensitive skin to use gloves: they should be thin and match size of your hand.

Acrylic is easy to use because we can repaint, paint over, cover up and restart painting any areas which we assume not good enough, not suitable our intention and not nice enough. We sometimes need to wait until the first layer is dry. Overworking one spot causes to come off all wet paint.

Acrylic paints can be applied thinly, diluted with glazing medium or water and in a thick layer creating almost impasto effects. It’s just so that prices of paints have tripled since 2008 in Canada, so it is obvious that using modelling paste or different materials as a base is better than applying a lot of paint.

The biggest challenges are two. 95% of beginning artists who work in acrylic USE TOO LESS PAINT. A LOT LESS than required, actually. That results in uneven, streaky coverage or there is no distinction in color and value. We have to add the paint we are using most as it is almost gone. Acrylic dries fast, so dipping on it a few drops of water or slightly spraying it with water time to time will help hugely. It might be so that somebody gets overwhelmed with all information they have to absorb in first classes, but still: having just a small drop of paint on your palette is not going to work. USE DECENT AMOUNT OF PAINT! ALWAYS! Keep it slightly wet all the time while you are using this paint.

Secondly, partially covered canvas does not look good. We can check whether the coverage is proper by taking a picture. If the canvas fabric is clearly visible, that part certainly requires more paint, sometimes: much more paint.

By its nature, acrylic acts like a glue. We have to use this feature in our favor and so we do. We start with more abstracted, not that careful layers and move onto something more definite. WE SHOULD NOT START WITH FINAL DETAILS OR ASSUME THAT ANY FIRST LAYER IS FINAL. Apply at least 3-5 layers and then decide what else you do. Never judge an unfinished painting or make unreasonable conclusions about it. We fix and change EVERYTHING as we add more layers.

The second challenge is BRUSHING PAINT ALL AROUND. We need to place the paint wherever we want it and leave this spot alone. With that being said, we shouldn’t create strong fat lines with sharp edges for darker areas or road sides, field ends and similar. We want darker areas, not darker frames everywhere. To achieve that, we feather out the outer edge on that area. Just let the brush dance on your canvas and don’t worry about too much blending in the first few layers. By letting the brush slightly touch canvas on one spot we can hold the particular color on that area where we want it. Brushing paint around results in achieving uniformly flat color on the entire canvas or area.  We have to use the color we want on the spot where we intend to apply it.

Instructor can demonstrate, explain or show principles, methods and approaches, but painting is still up to you. That means: you have to use the reference, remember to look at the reference whether it is a real abject or scene, or a photo thereof all the time, not only when you start the painting. That does not really happen in reality.

Painting is based on very many decisions we make every second; in fact, we make some hundreds of decisions every second. So, if you only follow the instructor, but haven’t decided anything for yourself, results will not be that great.

Why am I saying: pay attention to reference? I have to repeat that because most people don’t ever pay attention to reference. When we are just beginning the painting, they would have a brief look at it; and I notice after a small while that NOBODY LOOKS any more at the reference. YOU HAVE TO! Reference or value drawing (if you have created such) HAS ALL THE ANSWERS: where to use dark color, where to make strong edge, where to wash edge or lose it, where to place highlights and what exactly the shape of something is. It is extremely important, much more important than what brush to use.

Talking about brushes: always use the ones which you feel comfortable with and which suit the size of the area you are working on. Very simple. We use the largest possible brush for any task. Flat brush has MULTIPLE USES IN ACRYLIC. We can draw thin long lines with the edge of it; we can cover large areas using it flatly, parallel to surface in full width, we can use 2 different shades or colors on each end of the flat brush which simplifies and speeds up painting.

How does the painting or drawing happen? We transform the visually perceived information in the brain signals that eventually lead to our hand movements. Whenever our hand moves accordingly to decision we made, we achieve the desired result. The more decisions one makes and the more one understands why some parts are neutral, some have strong and some have weak values, the easier it is to paint or draw. Blindly following and copying RESTRICTS our ability to analyze, understand and apply creatively our vision.

We develop painting from my sketches. The light barn with pink-red roof was painted by our youngest student Erin who is 11 and attends classes together with her mom. We just started a new project which we are also doing from a quick sketch of mine.

This post was waiting for a long time because I was very busy working on class images and steps.

Therefore, some images are from mid-December classes.

Painting, drawing and sketching manually is THE BEST MENTAL FITNESS EXERCISE. Nothing else can compete or compare to that. Period.

The lifeschool blog reviews challenges during dark and upsetting winter: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/01/17/how-to-feel-good-and-survive-the-dullness-of-depressing-winter-days/ Please enjoy!

 

Dreaming goes on because art is timeless

Before you leave this site, please, spend a short moment with my other blog which is not that visible since it’s secondary (WordPress, it’s time to change that!!!), and the post tells a fairy-tale about Christmas: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2016/12/22/christmas-fairy-tale-going-home/

Inese Poga's art show

Show, large room, right side

Inese Poga's art show

Show, large room, left side

Art for sale

Sun slightly disturbing, but the light was excellent

artbylocalartist Inese Poga

It’s good to wrap up things and have the feeling of “I have done everything I could, and it is what it is”. It would be certainly way better to finish the year in more elevated mood, like “Was this ever fantastic!” That’s not going to happen this time.

It’s good not to have any classes for a while because that allows getting back to me: doing things that I want and prefer, not only classwork. Giving classes is a big responsibility; it takes a lot of energy and time-consuming preparation work.

I certainly would like to move to my personal themes and my personal visions in art, but unfinished paintings are really standing in the way: you look at some, and it says: hey, just add a few brush strokes, just wash in some more background, it’s not going to be that much of your time! I end up spending a lot of time, and since these are paintings that I started a long time ago, my internal critic disagrees with some aspects. Why did I start this at all? Right, during the class. Why did I choose that much detail? Why didn’t I make it simple and with large accents? Basically, it’s difficult because I have moved on and it feels like catching up on some long time ago forgotten thought or idea.

I will try to be more disciplined and not start that many new paintings, but then again when I didn’t do demos on canvas, I suddenly painted a few great paintings … on messed up cardboard. The wavy texture shines through, and they are not any good for display. It’s even impossible to take any picture of them. You never know with painting: something good can appear where one didn’t expect that and everything can go wrong when we had high expectations. There are so many forces and energies involved that it isn’t by far as simple as “just do it right or according to your plan”.

Classes also put a lot of pressure on any teacher because teaching is also not that simple. I usually think and plan and sketch until I find the right image for a particular group. I also have to think about simplified ways how to put it on canvas or paper.

16 x 12 orchid by Inese Poga

Magnolia, the small version

artbylocalartist gerbera

Gerbera daisy

artbylocalartist my favorite

Finally, got a better picture of poinsettia

artbylocalartist very red poppies

Ones side still pale, but I didn’t have any picture of these red poppies

art Toronto artist

They all looked so attractive

artbylocalartist Barn reflection

We did recently this reflection, everybody loved painting it

artbylocalartist Sunset over shores

This was the subject for a Saturday workshop

artbylocalartist some birches

We are often painting birches

artbylocalartist autumn and birches

This is one of recent class paintings

I had put up a beautiful show, those who came were really impressed, but I believe, my timing was a bit off. I will start to prepare the next show “Blooms and Leaves” fairly soon, and that might be ready by the end of April or by May. Anyway, there is not such a thing as lack of paintings for sale at my gallery. It’s always open and available to anybody over the internet. Just ask.

Merry Christmas to these who celebrate it and fantastic holidays to those who have other celebrations!

Where did the time go?

Time is rushing us so badly that it sometimes feels I just wake up and go back to sleep. At least, I got this feeling recently. Along with doctor’s appointments, household stuff, daily meals, cleaning, laundry, classes, preparation of new images and steps for their painting, preparation of hand-out materials, advertising, social media posts, and I had two huge medical writing jobs, each one took a week approximately: that meant there was no time to paint. Although, my show is coming up and this is a gift season for which I should have better prepare. There was just zero time.

I put up a few decorations yesterday, and I had to give a class later, and that was it. The day just disappeared again. Anyway, I’m posting a watercolor still life which was done about 3 weeks ago, but THERE WAS NO TIME TO POST ANYTHING!

Watercolor still life

I hope my duties will somewhat balance out during the upcoming weeks and I can get to things which I really want to do: JUST SIMPLY PAINT. Starting image for a class is not quite the same: I have to take into account all distinctive levels of skill, and we often have absolute beginners, so that painting is just an illustration for what I am saying while teaching. Showing is definitely better than only telling about it. It is very helpful also that I can see and correct things which are usually problematic: very little paint, too much water, completely dry brush, unclean brush, putting pressure on brush and similar basic issues with painting supplies. The one thing which is ALWAYS WRONG is: trying to paint with tiny bits of paint or not having paint on a brush. We have to be generous! I think, generally, generous people also have much better results when creating art, they simply are not that much afraid of wasting anything. That certainly helps!

Watercolor still life detail

Painting takes time; at least a few hours here and there have to be set aside, so that no disturbances, interruptions or hassles harm the image which lives already in the imagination. I just didn’t get this chance recently, but I’m looking hopefully to the future.

Your support would be much appreciated

If you read this post, not only clicked on like, that would be wonderful.

I am finally returning to life and life is returning to me, however, the long time period of not being able to do much has its sequences.

I asked before the readers and people who wouldn’t be hurt by spending something on any painting for help and possibly support. It was fantastic how one lady bought a painting which should arrive at her place in the USA tomorrow, and I hope she will be happy with that painting. I hope there is somebody else among you who would not mind to support me after these terrible health struggles for quite a while.

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After giving so many workshops and classes and since I’m always painting along with my students, I have very many 16 x 20 in paintings.  We never repeat any single painting, so to speak to keep the inspiration flowing and our artistic juices fresh.

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Not all of these 16 x 20 inch paintings are finished. I sometimes change my mind; I sometimes have moved forward and have no interest in subject any longer, and therefore quite often additional work or reworking are required. Whenever I feel like doing so, I keep working on these paintings, however, I would like to discontinue small size landscapes, and return to large and very large paintings. Even many years ago, I loved painting large art. Not only I find it more expressive and more impressive, it is easier for me to paint in that scale because eyesight does not get any better, but I hate wearing glasses when painting because they destroy the correct proportions and mislead in interpretation of a subject. That’s my intention: to return to large pieces and especially to still life because that was always my most favorite subject. Still life which consists of something man-made, live flowers and leaves which symbolizes life and either food, vegetables and fruits, or subjects like glasses, books, candles, watches and similar. I still love birds, and I am watching them; and I can say I do not need any more references to paint birds which are in my backyard. About 40 bird paintings are available at my gallery.

Fall path, full sheet watercolor

Fall birch path large watercolor painting

Summer path along the river, full sheet watercolor

summer along the river large watercolor

Spring creek has appeared here and there on this blog

spring creek, large watercolor

I have paintings which I haven’t seen for a while; these are large watercolors which took me a few months to paint a few years ago. I couldn’t frame all very large painting, therefore, nobody gets to see them because watercolor is sensitive without glass. Full size watercolors are not included in sales, but everything else is. I need to make space and invest in new paints and canvasses, as well as watercolor and pastel paper. As you know, good paper is expensive, but it’s worth it. Those of you who paint probably have experienced that difference between good and bad watercolor paper is insane. It’s possible to say right away on what paper some painting has been painted. Paint and water sit and float on the top of a cheap paper and they never act as on thick and multi-layer paper. That explains why some watercolor just do not look right.

A few small studies in watercolor

sky reflection, small size watercolor

Small watercolor of sky reflection

spring in the fields watercolor painting

Small spring watercolor

Not all paintings have pictures and some of them are visible only in group photos. I make also extremely textured paintings, and it is sort of impossible to get a good picture of a highly textured painting. Light is reflected brighter from higher spots and shadows also disturb to have the right balance which exists in reality, but not on a photo. Well, there might be even people who can come to the gallery in person; that certainly is the best because no photo can replace the impression of an artwork. Any painting up to 20 x 24 inches without frame ships anywhere.

I have uploaded quite a lot of art on Fine Art America; they have so many products with images that I have lost count. I get from any purchase $2 to $10, except greeting cards in which case it is $0.50 to $1.

My art and artsy products on Fine Art America http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/inese-poga.html?tab=artworkgalleries

I hope at least a few of you like something that much that they would not mind to own it. I mean especially originals. Please ask me about extremely good deals on 12 x 16 and 8 x 10 in watercolor paintings. I just learned my lesson that shipping with UPS was more expensive than painting, so any shipping will be extra. Thanks in advance!

Lifeschool blog talks about dreams that do not always come true, but hope is never given up: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2016/09/11/the-soothing-sunday-thoughts-castles-of-sand/

Nothing compares to summer painting outdoors

Summer days are running away so fast that it is pretty clear: this summer is completely lost for me. I am usually waiting for summer so much that I do not even live during winter. It is certainly the best time to grab our paint box, some paper and go outside.

The weather isn’t too friendly in Ontario: I cannot recall so many heat waves and so many days without a drop of rain while I am here. My mornings are spent at a clinic, afternoons: fighting fatigue, so I just will have to put off my outdoor painting for some weeks yet.

When people ask: what should I start painting or drawing with, the answer is very simple. Draw and paint anything around you. There is nothing better than drawing from real objects and real scenes. Once you get used to it, you will notice how everything is more vibrant and livelier when we paint from life.

Summer paintings 1 chikadee

Lots of instructions start with: take a picture. I would love to say, however, if you have something set up or around you, do not take any pictures. I mean, if it is a large work and you are afraid, you’d forget the scene, well, you might also take a reference picture. The problem is that most people want to copy their reference photos instead of just using them. I might sound like an old vinyl, but it’s so silly to copy the photo and then pretend you painted it from scratch.

That’s why we have eyes and brain; we are supposed to use them as intensively as possible.

The next thing which matters is this: once you learn drawing, you are able to draw ANYTHING. This happens because you have exercised your visual perception, developed eye-hand coordination and your hand starts perceiving impulses from your brain.

Summer painting 3 old fence

My backyard

Is it important to stick with colors which somebody else is using? Not at all. It is much more interesting to explore and develop your PERSONAL color combinations. I also find that paints of different brands act very differently. My favorite watercolor paints are St. Petersburg artist grade paints. I haven’t seen anything else which has such transparency and allows mixing up all sorts of shades that easily. It is almost impossible to get a dull painting with these paints. The secret is the natural and pure pigments they use as opposed to many paint manufacturers who pretty much cheat and replace pigments with filers and binders. That means chemicals which do not enhance color or paint application.

Along with paints and brushes (I usually use just large round approx. size 12 and one size 6 brush for any medium size up to 20 x 24 in watercolor painting) an extremely important thing for watercolor is paper. When I am asking a student: why are you using this really thin and bad paper, they’d normally say, they are just learning and it’s not worth to spend money on a good thick paper. This is profoundly wrong assumption. Every paper will act differently. The thinner and lighter papers do not even absorb paint: it floats on a surface and creates ugly marks. It is also quite easy to lift paint, but not that easy to add more. My most favorite paper is not Arches. I do not like how paint keeps traveling through layers of paper even quite a few minutes after its application. I am using other heavy, cold press papers whenever possible.

Summer painting 2 Backyard summer

My lovely old fence post

If you practice on a bad paper, you won’t know how much easier it is to paint on a good paper. Watercolor paper is definitely the most important part of all supplies for watercolor painting.

I haven’t done much recently because I am trying to recover. It’s already a month after surgery, but it seems like I will need a lot more time.

The current lifeschool blog post tells a story about the ugly side of success and how this can destroy lives:

I would appreciate more than anything else a purchase of any of my paintings. After such a long period of time not being able to work, any financial support would mean a lot. I can certainly offer very good deals on originals, and prints and other products on Fine Art America site are inexpensive anyway. Since people rarely read these posts, this might go unnoticed, but anyway, I hope I can get something sold, there are about 600 paintings of all sizes.

I had to forget about art for a while

It’s been a while. Again. I haven’t disappeared, I was just having a surgery because my worsening condition did not provide with a better option. If you are following my secondary blog, you probably know how I had to struggle with post-surgery complications. Updates are here: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2016/07/18/the-inappreciative-patient-and-my-lost-summer-pleasures/

It didn’t go as smooth as we expected.

It is the first day since long time when I can type a small article. It was rough, that’s all I can say. My student Liz came to see me and brought me some nutritious food when I realistically was unable to do anything. Thanks Liz, that was the best care ever!

Liz and Gord had also left a beautiful flower bouquet, card with wishes to get better soon and a gardening book. Very thoughtful. I do not have many friends here, if any at all, so this was I appreciated sincerely. Here you can see what’s left from the colorful bouquet by now. Honestly, I was so bad I could not even speak with them on the day they came, and I am genuinely sorry for that. The small bird was attached, too, and you know, I just love birds.

health and art 4

Small bit left over from the cheerful bouquet 

Artistic projects and any painting did not cross my mind, although, it helps doing something. I just couldn’t. When I was not in a nightmarish sleep, I was dizzy and shaky, basically side of this treatment are not pleasant. Well, I am just starting to see things clearly and walk around slowly and carefully.

Last class was in first half of June, and that’s how the gallery looked like at that moment.

Art sale Whitby Ontario

Before heading to surgery, I tried to keep calm and work on finishing some small 16 x 20 inches paintings that were left unfinished. I will call them “Idyllic 1” and “Idyllic 2″which means to me a place which is totally different from the current reality. More idyllic images will follow.

Art for your cottage

They might need some work, but I intend to leave them as they are because these paintings are for ever linked to this pre-surgery moment when I needed dreamscapes to avoid the daily anxieties and suffering.

Art for your cottage

If everything goes better and smoother, I could restart some classes as early as in August. We will see.

The sale to raise funds for my treatment was very short because I had to deal with health issues. I would love to invite anybody to either look at Fine Art America site (on the right side is a link), or just scroll through my paintings and the blog. Ironically, when expenses reach peak levels, there is no energy and chance to make any income. If you are somebody who won’t be hurt by spending $50-$100, I could send you some originals, especially small to medium size watercolors. FAA has all kinds of products from prints, phone cases, pillows, T-shirts, purses and bags to shower curtains and more . I receive a little bit, $2-$10 from each sale, but that is still great. I am hoping to recover soon to the point when I can do something: it is so intolerable to just sleep and stay in bed when there is so abnormally much to do. I also hope the crisis is over and, therefore, the future will be definitely better.

Stick to your plan and pay attention to reference

Lesson 3

Whatever we are doing, we need some kind of a draft in our head or some plan which we keep in mind. However, it is easier said than done. That especially refers to classes. I have noticed that most people want to draw or paint without any plan and without any thinking. It might be so that when starting out it is hard to know what parts or segments should be paid most attention to. There are lots of simple things which make the object look multi-dimensional. By far, those are not only darker and stronger values. Strongly emphasized edges or absence thereof, always darker spots behind the lighter areas also contribute a lot to the spatial perception, not to mention color if it is used. I remember from early years I was told that the darkest dark should meet the lightest light. It can be tough to implement, especially when not having a real reference, but just a photography or sketch. I am personally not excited about patterns which repeat in a regular rhythm such as petals or trees along the path, blooms on a branch and similar things which we unintentionally place on our canvas when there is no firm plan or sketch.

Flower paintings in acrylic magnolias

Magnolias, recent class demo and I always work together with students straight in front of the class

Why am I saying: pay attention to reference? Because most people don’t do that. When we are just beginning the painting, they would have a look at the reference image or set-up. After a while, I notice nobody looks any more at the reference. You have to! The only exception is when it is a completely abstract work which has been drafted in one’s imagination or when we paint from memory. Painting from memory takes practice, however, and beginning artists cannot handle that too well. Reference or value drawing (if you have created such) has all the answers: where to use dark color, where to make strong edge, where to wash edges to lose them, where to place highlights and what exactly the shape of something is. It is extremely important, much more important than what brush to use. Talking about brushes: always use these ones which you feel comfortable with and which suit the size of the area you are working on. Very simple. We can use no brush at all, use a sponge or palette knife, that is a matter of a preference and choice. I know how some instructors want to make rules about everything. There are no rules in the use of tools. It is very obvious that using a very wide brush for tiny spot is simply difficult and vice versa. I know a lot of artists who create the entire painting with just one brush. I do that sometimes, too.

Flower paintings in acrylic Pink rose

The Pink rose, recent class demo

So, the conclusion is: do not change things around dramatically or completely when the work is halfway through and always keep an eye on the reference. That’s why it is so rewarding to paint from real objects, live is live and photo is just a photo. Live comes with smell, touch, very visible shape and very noticeable values. Do not pressurize yourself and painting: there are moments when we need to stop and make a decision about the next step.

Flower paintings in acrylic Pansies

Purple pansies, finished just yesterday

Paintings and drawings really hate when they are not treated with due respect. It is much better to allow everything to develop in a natural way. For illustration I have attached the recent flower paintings. There are many more, but they just need finalizing touches. You know: painting is never done, right?