How to choose art classes

Many people who feel attracted to art, sign up for art and painting classes in the fall. Certainly, days are getting shorter and the weather gradually changes from very pleasant to quite nasty, rainy and chilly. I will not list all advantages of joining an art class or painting group this time because I’ve been mentioning them multiple times, and there are so many: from building your confidence and self-esteem and finding a great thing to fill up the long nights to effects similar to meditation which allow one floating away from daily troubles and problems, to mental fitness and rejuvenation of brain cells. The created art becomes just another gain along the way.

When choosing an art class, you should first check out what the instructor does: what are his or her favorite subjects, style, colors, approach. If you generally do not like such art as instructor is doing, so most likely you will the class unsuitable. For instance, if instructor is in meticulous copy creation of photos, you most likely will not be learning how to paint abstracts; or if she or he never do portrait painting, it is unlikely the class will provide with portrait painting skills.

Secondly, make sure the size of group somewhat works with you. I hear people complaining that they signed up for an art class and never got any attention, therefore, never learned anything. Well, if a weekly art class is 2 hours long and there are 20 or even more students in the classroom, how would you get a lot of attention? You can count on some 5 minutes of individual instruction in the best case because no instructor can run around all class while they are showing how to paint something. It is obvious that you have to choose a small art class if you require much advice or want very individual approach.

Thirdly, find out what level this art class is for. If some class is intended for advanced painters, most often, if you are just starting out you will not be able to catch up with others.

Beginner is somebody who hasn’t done at least 200 small size paintings or 150 larger paintings.

Next thing is: be realistic in expectations. That is probably the most overlooked aspect of any art class or studies of creative things.

Learning how to use tools takes time. That means: any tools. Although, everybody has seen a painting brush and quite frequently people have tried using it painting something on their own, it does not mean that you know how to actually use it. Any brush (they come in very many sizes, shapes and are made from all kinds of materials) can be used for some very specific things and also for some very general approaches. It is obviously possible to use just one brush start to finish, but the key is to find one that suits you and the task you want to accomplish. That depends also on your personal preferences, medium and subject.

Materials are an extremely important thing also for an art class, so, the best results will definitely be achieved using good quality materials straight from the beginning.

I have heard this often: I’m just learning, so I will use the cheapest materials for now. Well, that might not work at all because using bad materials can easily become a torture and nuisance. Sometimes students struggle around bad watercolor paper and they think they are doing something wrong, but, in fact, it is the paper which prevents from getting acceptable results. The funny part is that when one has a lot of experience they can survive with bad materials because their mastery will cover up the flaws, but initially, when there is very little knowledge, good materials will help overcoming your insecurities.

Equally important is also having your own materials. It might seem: what’s the difference? The answer is: there is a huge difference between paints, brushes, canvas, papers, pencils and even erasers, not to mention that is one of the most important aspects of learning. Tools matter, surface matters, paints and brands matter. There is no other way to become familiar with some materials in particular as using them.

Many people think that art classes and artistic activities cost a lot of money. Comparatively, I have to admit that is not really true. Most classes are way cheaper than going to a movie, about 8-10 times cheaper than attending a concert, at least 2 times cheaper than getting a hairdo, minimum 2 times cheaper than dining out at a medium quality place, much cheaper than boozing at a pub and so on. If your priority is to eat, work and sleep, that might seem like a big expense, but if you are looking for an overall improvement of your mental state, brain flexibility, memory, life quality and health improvement, it is just something which will pay back over many upcoming years. Therefore, the first question should not be “How much”. While the cost makes up an important part of anything we are doing and affording, there are very many other factors to consider. All classes are different: some are just a few weeks, some are a few months, some are short in a very large group and some are long and almost private. The most important part is to sign up for something that you feel interested in. One should also be prepared to learn, practice and memorize things, be spontaneous, courageous, daring and fearless, as well as have enough personal time for not feeling rushed.

I recently got new pictures and got a chance to post some watercolors on DailyPaintworks site.

I always work harder on pictures than actual paintings.

Colors in context images are much more like in reality.

I loved them, I hope it becomes a source of pleasure for other people, too.

This is the updated painting

 

They sell at $150, plus $15 shipping in Canada and USA.

Clear white on DPW

Enjoy!

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 does it feel to become a rose?

I always prefer and I always advice others to use real objects, real scenes and live models for their paintings. It’s not only because camera does not see things as a human eye does, but also because of immediate presence.

When somebody aims only for technically great achievements in arts, they certainly stick with photos because we quite cannot distinguish between tiny details when looking at something with just our eyes. I’m not painting or drawing anything I cannot see or which is too small to see. I prefer to go bolder and not to use any magnifying glass.

It can be tough with flowers time to time, especially in winter, and they generally do not last as long as painting takes from start to finish. Anyway, whenever possible using real things has its advantages. They also cause feelings, admiration, attraction or vice versa. This is also something we are trying to implement in our paintings. Technical ability is great, but technically perfect and emotionally cold art isn’t speaking to me. I’m not saying that I always keep working until I have achieved absolutely everything. There is something great about unfinished paintings, too. For instance, a chance to add imaginative characteristics or continue with one’s thoughts. When painting is small, 16 x 20 inches (40.5 cm x 51 cm) inches or so, it doesn’t feel right to spend a year painting it. I sometimes return to a painting after 2-3 years.

Therefore, it feels great becoming a rose. As we paint any petal, we build it and grow it to our liking. Although, it’s just a rose, it has it all: some hidden attraction, some mystery and some color combinations that do not always find reflection in a photo of the painting, but they do become visible when looking at the artwork in person.

Wild roses acrylic painting

There are lots and lots of objects which can be painted not even leaving our room. People sometimes say: I don’t want to paint still life, it’s boring. That’s totally wrong. That is the best exercise in painting there can be found. People who can paint or draw can paint anything and draw anything from apple to face. Still life is the shortest way to explore values, edges, color transitions and the ways we can create them. It’s the best tool to learn underpainting, sketching and blocking in the main shapes. It’s also the easiest way to learn about lines and their relationships, as well as all kinds of shadows. Therefore, we should never underestimate still life as subject, genre or way of expression.

Pink rose acrylic painting for sale

The lifeschool blog reviews pros and cons of using supplements and synthetic vitamins: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/02/07/are-you-wasting-your-money-for-supplements-and-vitamins-without-experiencing-any-benefits/

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

still-life-for-sale-2

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

Art instruction: achieve good results painting with acrylic

I have been an art instructor for more than 35 years and I have spent thousands of hours watching how students start out with their paintings.  I have also been a beginner in arts 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 acrylic paintings 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!

 

The long journey to a ready painting and deals continue for 3 more days

I have no choice, but to continue with advertising my art sale. 3 ladies responded. I am genuinely thankful for their support, and I hope they like their purchased paintings, however, taking into account the large number of items for which I do not have left any wall space and any storage space, which is due to the specific features of these premises, I would need much more sales happening. I have 3 days for keeping this going, and I hope to get maybe some walk-in people, as well.

I work a lot and hard to create my paintings. I know how much easier it is to make abstract art because that takes origin only in one’s imagination, and artists sometimes simply try to comply with market trends. Unfortunately, I am not in abstracts that much.

I’m too good with drawing, therefore, I cannot and do not want to skip that part. Over almost 50 years, I have developed excellent eye-brain-hand coordination and I do not need any grids, any photos, any help lines even when drawing portraits which I used to do a lot some 20 years ago. I stopped drawing faces because I always need a model which I really like (like my daughter, my niece, etc.), and I need this model to be patient enough to sit through painting sessions. Very few people have time nowadays for that, but I just do not like producing paintings from photographic source, and I dislike even more when somebody is copying photos. Meanwhile, so many artists take credits for literally editing and then copying the picture whether on a larger scale or on the same size paper or canvas. I don’t think that takes talent or is a gift and specific vision, this requires only patience, time and ability to apply paint accordingly with the photo. This is more executive work as opposed to creative work which involves only original scene, object or set-up without the use any additional tools.

The general opinion is usually that camera gets it right, and that is true to some extent only. If the distance between camera and object is small, or the distance within the scene is huge, camera will produce wrong proportions. Camera draws closer the closest part of the scene or objects, widens the middle portion and creates way more distant background part. You’ve all seen this how nose looks very large in regard to the rest of face when taking too close pictures. This is also very easy to see in case of reflections: when artist follows exactly the picture, not the scene in nature, the reflections of some not that far away objects will be stretched out for miles which is totally wrong when you compare that with reflection in nature.

Therefore, my point is that many instructions will make one not trust their vision, eyes and ability to recreate the same proportion, edge and line relationship and color transitions without additional tools. That is not true. However, to get to the level when one can do the so-called “blind drawing” which means you do not persistently look at paper or canvas but rather at your object and scene, takes trusting our brain and eyes, making decisions and allowing the eye-brain signals to be transmitted to our hand with pencil or brush. That means trusting ourselves more than camera or grid and believing that we can do everything what somebody else has already done. It also takes simply practicing daily and, at the end, this activity improves the brain functionality and flexibility to an incredibly high level, thus preventing loss of neurons, creating new synapses and taking care of good memory.

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Rural buildings

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A few of very many fall scenery paintings

When we sometimes look at a painting, it seems it didn’t take any time or efforts. It is due to the fact, that good art shouldn’t exhibit artistic struggles and technical difficulties, but mood and atmosphere of the painted scene or object. When we get past such struggles, the real creation takes place. Some of my paintings took 2 years to bring to a stage when I liked them. In average, each painting takes about 1 week to month to get it to the point when I am more or less satisfied with it. There are smaller watercolors which only take one to two days to accomplish, but any larger work requires much more time because most of my paintings are rather representative than abstract.

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Snow and winter scenes

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A bit different view: snow, winter and fir trees

Why do I love showing paintings in groups better than just posting one image at a time?

Internet display has huge drawbacks when it comes to art.

Firstly, small 8 x 10 inch paintings virtually look the same size as 3 feet by 4 feet paintings;

secondly, colors are much truer in group photos;

thirdly, the look of a painting and its colors will greatly depend on your device and its settings.

The differences are huge. I’ve also noticed that my paintings on Fine Art America site do not have the exactly the same color: some look completely green, and they are not in reality, some look very brown, but in reality these are grey shades. Certainly, the best way to know whether the painting speaks to you or not, is to see it in real size, to view it framed or unframed and to experience the personal impact it makes or doesn’t.

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A few of pink and white flowers paintings

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Wider view of white and pink flowers

The sale deals are still in effect, but shipping is extra because I learned by now that it can be high for very remote or difficult to access places. Everything is $100 to $450, but if you are interested and let me know your budget, we might work out some special deal. Fine Art America site for prints and other products:

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/inese-poga.html

I hope, there are more people who would like some of my art. I’m posting only acrylics at the moment. Taking these pictures is time-consuming, as well; I also need a good light which can be a problem.

Many people clicked on “like”, however, only a handful actually read the previous post. Well, that’s just one more manifestation of never-enough-time-for-anything life we have.

I regret there was very little interest, and most likely the content of my previous post didn’t seem to touch too many people. I also understand that very many other artists who are among my followers will not buy any art, so the invitation goes out to the rest, and especially those who are only in a driving distance.

Art is the most space enhancing feature which there only can be. Just removing a few paintings from the wall, makes it look virtually empty, and my personal experience shows that there simply cannot be too much art around us.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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?

How to create better art with less effort

Lesson 2

Is that even possible? Oh, yes, it definitely is. So, how to create better art with fewer efforts and wasting less time? The answer is: sketch and draw. In my personal experience, it is pencil, pen and watercolor sketch which is the best preparation stage for paintings.

When somebody wants to apply for classes I usually would get this:

Well, I’d really like to paint. Something like that. Points to some landscape or floral, or still life. I see. Everybody is interested in the result and not that much in the path which led me to it.

If you are one of guys who jumped straight to brushes and did not take your time to explore the elements of a piece of art, I can understand you. People usually think watercolor and sketching is for watercolor artists who mask out white spots or those who get ideal washes just by swinging around the brush with some paint on it. However, there is a missing link between the idea of our art and it’s draft using pen and some color.

The real life shows that any potential artist and anybody who does art as hobby would have gotten much better paintings very soon if they considered sketching an important step to creation of a painting with any medium: watercolor, pastel, acrylic or oil. The truth is they all originate in one place: in our brain through our eyes and senses. Therefore, we should exercise our visual abilities (I’m talking more about importance to see in my previous post) and especially our visual perception maximally often.

The problem with not well developing painting is not the technique of putting on paint. That usually works fairly well after a few attempts. The problem most often is in our eyes: we do not perceive values, shapes, proportions and potential composition; therefore, we cannot come up with a neat plan to make painting elements work.

Sketch is done much faster than a painting. Sketching out objects or just values, putting them in a draft composition momentarily allows making a decision if that will or won’t work. Sketch isn’t the entire painting, but by doing it one learns much more about their subject. We find out that we need to look at it more carefully, more intensely, more accurately.

 

Rough bluebell path sketch

 

Path to unknown sketch

I can compare creating art with writing. When people say I don’t want to sketch and I don’t want to know anything about drawing it is like somebody who intends to write a novel would say: I don’t want to know anything about spelling and grammar, I just want to write a novel, so give me the idea and off we go. The entertaining painting type of events also does a bad service: not only the entire idea does not allow anybody to really learn anything about creation of art, but the approach is just so wrong and materials the “drink creatively” events use are so bad that many people get the wrong idea.

 

Quick painting of birches, recent class demo, 20 x 24 inches

When somebody is just moving paint around the canvas in hopes that it miraculously will take the right shape and become the right color, I must say, unfortunately: it won’t. Painting is a summary of things we put in it. It also is the energy we put in it. Therefore, the sooner one learns about values, relationship between lights and darks, values, softness or roughness of edges, proportion and compositional layout of objects, the faster their paintings will take shape and look multi-dimensional. Lesson 2 is: the missing link between our idea and its incorporation into artwork is the value sketch whether in color, or black and white. Creating value sketches and color sketches is not a waste of time and paint: it is the straight path which leads us to much better art. I’d suggest: take the sketching classes and workshops, it helps hugely.

Short introduction in main issues which everybody encounters when they pick up pencil or brush

Lesson 1

You always wanted to draw or paint: it seems it does not want to happen.

You will need patience, courage; willingness to experiment and make mistakes, as well as, you should be ready to put into your learning process efforts, work and time.

Any drawing and painting starts with being able to see and feel. It does not start with knowledge of techniques and all kinds of tools and mediums.

I have given countless classes and workshops over many years; it actually feels like I have been teaching arts all my life. It is obvious that all people who would love to start painting or drawing do not get past the first problems and give up this fantastic activity before they could even become aware of easy fixes which there are just for anything when it comes to creation.

The main thing with visual arts is the ability to see and to understand what one is looking for. Most people will definitely be sure that they have eyesight good enough and that they can see everything. That is not true at all. While we are seeing things around us, we are not seeing them in an artistic way. I suppose the inability to perceive values, shapes, colors, lines and their relationship, as well as correct scale, depends on what one has been doing and using for drawing and painting before.

It’s not rare that artists also simply copy an image and then transfer this copy onto paper or canvas. Many artists do a lot of image editing with some software so that the image is ready to copy and to apply paint on it. They believe that will save time and efforts and make painting process easier. That’s not true either. Do not do that, do not copy any photos or images if you want to ever draw and paint without fear and with confidence.

A complex drawing might take me between 30 minutes and an hour, but that’s about it. I will have everything in my drawing: values, composition, correct scale since I’m usually doing the entire canvas or paper size drawings as opposed to thumbnail sketches, and I can start doing whatever I want with it: use for watercolor, pastel or acrylic and so on. I won’t need editing, adjusting, copying, enlarging.

Therefore, if you want to be ever free from computers, laptops, screens, all kinds of measuring devices, grids and photos, start learning to see.

I have noticed this for millions of times: people do not see anything in the reference photo or picture. They see a flower, a tree or fence, but there is nothing behind that. I am also using real objects: fruit, vegetables, flowers, flower pots, leaves, cups, bowls, glasses and similar stuff, and that does not usually help at all. No attention gets paid to shadows, value distinction, correct size, potential composition, contrasts and layout. Every single person can draw and paint as soon as they understand what they have to see in that object. That refers to drawing figures and body parts, as well.

It is hilarious how there are so many separate art lessons like: How to paint an apple, How to paint a bird, How to paint a spring landscape, How to paint a cup or glass, so on. The answer to this: you can paint anything; you can draw anything once you are able to see it. To see it in an artistic way taking into account things which other people don’t know exist. Therefore, lesson 1 is: place some object in front of you and look at it. Look carefully at dark and light spots, visible lines and shadows, direction and size of any shapes. Starting with very light and general outlines try to get the exact shape. Start with very general shapes and lines and move towards details. Repeat until the object or objects get dimensions and start to take on shape. I will illustrate it in more detail in some upcoming posts. Yes, it all comes from our eyes and brain, and hand with pencil or brush just makes the brain signals visible. How do these signals get into our brain? Our senses and our memory, plus imagination contribute to this process. That is why drawing and painting is the best tool for fixing memory issues, taking care of brain flexibility and for prevention of mental diseases.

 

Value sketch in the actual size is the best help one can have

 

Lilies

I have elaborated a new approach to acrylic painting since many people want to learn it, but results are quite often disappointing and don’t make them happy. This new approach uses the specific features of acrylic (fast drying time, ability to work over dry layers) and turns them into the biggest advantage. Results are quick and stunning. Most people don’t even believe they could paint it. There is a small remark, however: as long as they follow my steps and take into account the guiding suggestions. I don’t think I will bother with online classes because the live art classes are the only ones which make real sense. It matters how much water or how much paint, or what medium on what surface one uses. It matters how fast the previous steps are done and it matters how you move the brush and mix the paint. Everything matters, and we can correct mistakes right there where they happen, therefore, it is important to have a teacher which can directly see why some things work and why some others don’t.

 

Poppies

We are painting large flowers in Thursday classes. 2 hours at a time.

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.