Where would we be without the beauty?

Beauty is the most universal, self-expressing phenomenon that does not require words or language knowledge. It is present in all walks of life, but it becomes something extremely perceivable due to art.

As we rush our daily schedules and spend most of the time running, we might not notice the moment when a bud opens. The magic moment when the fragile petals unfold and when the sun and rain pour life into it. It becomes a mediator of beauty. Every smallest vein and line, every nuance of color is so unique.

The biggest advantage of being able to create, draw and paint is the feeling of being a creator. We can do anything with the sheet of white paper in front of us. It’s our choice what goes on it. I choose the never-ending, personality enriching and mood uplifting divine features of the nature. It is a cheerful activity on its own. It is more than meditation, it is much more than immersing in oneself, it is the imperative life-continuing reveal of the underlying essence of life, and the essence of life is beauty.

Cherry blossoms, watercolor painting. Beauty unfolding

 

Apple blossoms, watercolor painting. Beauty in a very visual way.

Enjoy! Happy Mother’s Day! I know my mom will love these paintings.

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

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!

Reds and gold for Christmas and holidays

How have you been? I was so busy during the past 2 months that I hardly could do anything else except work, work and work.

I thought it would be great to have a good show this year since the summer was not the best. It feels the 3 bad years are over and I can start fresh. Meaning: much better, at much higher level, much more efficient and much more skillful. That is not hard to do when health has returned.

I know how many people would love some art and there is not enough money for everything. I will probably try in the New Year posting some giveaways on Facebook (link is on the right: Art plus Life).

Well, I am completely behind posting schedule on either blog, this one and lifeschool. I promise to post some articles and poems more often once I get over Christmas.

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The theme of this year is: Reds and gold for Christmas. Red is such a warm and energizing color, we need it; we need it especially when it’s cold and nasty outside, or inside the heart. I was spending almost all day trying to get some pics for my show. Well, light was bad, but I tried, tried and tried until I was somewhat satisfied.

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Some new friendly birds

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Different settings

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No celebration without poinsettia

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Lovely golds and robins

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Golden light of candles

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It was difficult to guess which one was the painted poinsettia when I first looked at pictures.

I wish you not overdoing with gifts, but choosing soul-warming, mood-lifting and energy-giving things. Like a painting? Why not?

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.

The magic attraction of drawing and making time disappear with watercolors

I have not posted that much about watercolors and drawing recently which does not mean we were doing no drawing, sketching and watercolor. In fact, it was straight the opposite: we created sketches from real fruits, we did large-scale reference drawings for our paintings and we also are about to finish the chickadees and birches scene.

I regret seeing how few people actually decide to engage in drawing and sketching because it is the perfect thing to get carried away by when it is not that pleasant outdoors. As many of you know, my health is very far from good, so, I’m using drawing and painting to a big extent as a part of my therapy. I paint and draw even when I cannot do anything else, when pain gets that bad that it prevents me from walking and standing. I paint when I feel desperate, disappointed with the reality of life and when I am completely depressed because of a strong medications which make one cry for hours and see no point in anything. It can be a bit difficult to get started, bet when I overcome the resistance, what a pleasure that is! I don’t always care how great the painting is or how perfect the color combinations are. Art is so fulfilling that I cannot compare this with anything else.

Drawing still life from real objects

One set-up of still life

Drawing still life art classes for adults

Which results in reference drawing to be used for creation of painting

Watching different students getting started with their first paintings certainly brings up some thoughts. When I have people with the attitude: I came to the class and teach me now, it can be tough. Teaching is only a part of the entire process, and whether somebody will achieve what they came to the class for, will definitely depend on their willingness to get engaged in the process of creation. Since it is a process and something ongoing with potential of being developed endlessly, it would be silly to expect mastery within a few hours. Therefore, I really appreciate these students who enter my studio with open mind and heart and who want to see this as an exploration of our abilities, as an experiment in our capabilities and as an enjoyable learning experience.

drawing still life Pen and watercolor sketch

Drawing still life: pen and watercolor sketch

First steps in still life painting watercolor classes for adults

First steps in still life painting: we did a very light line drawing and began to apply some paint

Applying layers of paint

This is just the first half, but I didn’t get any further yet

When we look at online, offline and otherwise prepared materials for somebody to get involved in drawing and painting, I must say nothing can replace the live interaction and face-to-face classes. Why? Because I can see right away what’s causing some problem: too much water, too dry paper, too less paint, too much paint, bad quality paper, brush or paint. When it comes to watercolors, everything matters, yet, the quality of paper is crucial in achieving anything. I always use the same paper that I give my students which is large size, between 16 x 18 and this time it was 18 x 24 inches. I have seen over the years how tiny and small paper prevents one from getting done anything. If it is too small to see and perceive, it will be definitely too difficult to apply paint on. Let’s just say if you are watching somebody painting online and you do not have a very thick, heavy and good quality paper, you can kill yourself, but you simply won’t achieve what they are showing you. Saving on paper is a bad thing because thin paper won’t allow to lift paint and use multiple washes, as well as, to do a lot of other stuff. My students are using paints made in St. Petersburg from real pigments. The difference in transparency and ease of application is huge. Once again, with bad paints, you won’t have the same results.

Chickadees and birches project which we did in Tuesday night class

Chickadees and birches project which we did in Tuesday night class, it is ready for sale, too, and I will upload it on Fine Art America site to get cards, prints, canvas prints, tote bags, phone case and pillows with this image, original is 18 x 24 inches

I am somebody who loves drawing, therefore, I’m also teaching to draw from real life, not photos whenever possible. I believe that is the best because it gives one absolute freedom of interpretation.

Well, there are lots of unfinished paintings, just like always, but I hope following my advice more people will pick up pencils and brushes. Just because there is nothing like it. It doesn’t ask one to be in a good shape or to be dressed up and look perfect, it doesn’t even require being in a good mood. That comes as an additional benefit along the way. I’m also seeing art as a tool to cure addictions and prevent from falling back into addictions because it has such power. Have a great week full of art!

The red of roses to warm up at minus 20

Are you buying the overpriced, bad quality pushed out with extreme amounts of chemicals Valentine’s Day flowers or are you rather painting them? I’ve asked my husband every year: please do not buy these stems with half-withered petals at the top. It’s not that I don’t love flowers and it’s not that my husband doesn’t give me flowers. It’s just this day and the over-the-top exaggerated excitement about it which cause me nausea, sort of feeling of huge pressure to engage in eating chocolate hearts which I am not excited about at all. I simply do not like chocolate too much or any other sweets.

I hoped that some people, who are not fans of Valentine’s Day just like I am not, would love to paint a rose. Red is a beautiful color which warms up both physically and mentally. We could have been doing any other red flower, as well. Unfortunately, the response was weak. Well, bars will be full and florists will be doing just fine.

Red is supposed to be a very difficult color because diluting it with white creates pink, and adding yellows cause it to become orange. It’s even more difficult color using acrylics. The quality of acrylic paints has gone down extremely when I compare the same paints as they were in 2007-2008 and as they are now. I’d guess it’s too much added binders, sort of polymer glue stuff and less pigments, therefore, the paint loses any kind of brilliance as it dries. Lucky guys who are not allergic to oil paints and their smells! I tried water soluble oils because I hoped to really do oils again, but the stuff I bought was of such an unacceptable quality (Winsor and Newton, Artisan) that I am pretty much regretting I went for this huge spending (these paints were anything but cheap). They still had a bad smell reminding me of old fish oil or something similar, and they had no similarities with the real oils since they felt mostly tacky, not workable at all. Although, I used flow and fast dry medium, it took 3 months!!! until they finally felt dry to the touch.

The red rose, acrylic painting

My rose to inspire on Thursday workshops

So, yes, I hoped we could do some attractive red flowers or rose. I’m happy now I don’t have to do this painting session because it’s extremely cold at the moment, and I think I’d rather snuggle in some warm blanket and watch nothing on TV. That’s what our Rogers TV provides us with here: nothing. The very few not repeated programs are news and talk shows. They all talk and show the same content: celebrities who I basically do not know, disasters, crimes and politics. Most of advises on shows like City Line and similar are fairly or pretty dumb and answers to the presented problems or issues are obvious. These are usually very well-known things which for some unknown reason are supposed to be some kind of discoveries. People go: OOOHH! and AAAAHH! and WOWWWW! Really? Well, flatness and lack of imagination is the new standard for talk shows. All the same. Again, again and again. Therefore, I rarely watch TV. Almost never.

Returning to flowers: there is nothing better than to paint flowers in bright colors in a freezing cold and nasty winter day. Treat your art as pleasure, learning experience and relaxing activity. That prevents from getting frustrated and disappointed.

I did a few value drawings for watercolors, but I suppose I could post them some other night. Cheers!

P. S. Please check out the lifeschool blog, as well. If you are more of life style fan, you could follow that one. The most recent post looks at self-admiration and superficiality of social media: Detachment from reality on social media

Giving up is not a solution, acrylic painting tips

I feel sad when some students discontinue classes just after one month. I can see potential in just started paintings, people with a little experience in drawing and art usually don’t.  All it takes is pretty much adding a few darks and lights, adjusting some edges and straightening out a few shapes. In fact, any acrylic painting can be whatever the artist expects it to be if we keep working on it.

Sometimes people are short of time, sometimes these are health or financial issues, that require to stop attending classes, but that doesn’t change the fact that there was a good start and it did not get a chance to develop.

I am quite often repeating: nobody becomes master within a few hours. Nobody. I am also not allowing students to compare their just started art: this makes absolutely no sense. There was a reason artists used to cover up their art with a cloth and show it to nobody until the artwork was considered ready and finished. There are lots of tiny brush strokes which can change the painted image to a great extent. Tiny bit of sparkling light, small edge of very deep dark, and everything improves.

Patience and ability to take risks are two very necessary features for anybody who’d like to enjoy creating visual art. I have told this before: time-lapse demos cause people to believe that this is exactly the way one paints: one, two, three and here we go. In reality, we sometimes need to go over and over one spot for many times. With acrylic paint, there are no limitations of additional layers, and we need to apply more layers to create three-dimensional feel and visually attractive effects.

Smearing on paint in one color is not the same what building up that color. I have quite often seen transparent trees and flat bushes. That means: there was no darker blocking color underneath and the light color was stretched only over 2 shades. That cannot make a structure or object look like it is having dimensions.

Many people have difficulties thinking in layers: the most distant, the underneath it all layer, the middle value layer, the defining layer and the highlighting and detailing layer. It is in the human nature: to try to get it right away, therefore, I’ve observed how students sometimes start with details which should be implemented at the end. This approach is fairly essential in acrylic painting because we have to work our way up and closer and that’s how the image evolves.

The other problematic issue is holding color on the spot one wants it to be. We are practising painting on a spot techniques, but quite often artist gets carried away and keeps blending and moving paint until the result shows everything in one and the same color. It is very important to learn using any size brush for painting on a spot which is like running on a spot: brush it on, but don’t move all around the canvas.

Golden birch acrylic painting art classes for adults

I just got done the reference image for the next Saturday painting session: we are painting with gold again. I feel very attracted to the warm shine of gold. There are some images when it really works, definitely, not with any image.

Finally, as I’m washing brushes after classes, I can immediately tell which brushes were used by me and which were used by students. My brushes are almost clean or have the last used color in it. Students’ brushes are usually full of many shades, quite often dark shades which we applied at the beginning of class. That means, the brush wasn’t cleaned during painting. That results in muddy and dirty colors which don’t shine and lack brilliance. Painting is easy and extremely rewarding; however, one must have patience and allow for some time to get where they want to be. It depends also on what our goal is: any painting is nice and great if we do not expect it to become a top-perfection artwork jut after a few classes or painting attempts. We can notice fear and indecisiveness in brush strokes which lack confidence.  Therefore, going for a bank and risk it all is a very important thing with creativity and visual art, in particular. We have to be persistent and even stubborn, as well, quite often, giving up something is not a solution at all.