Painting brings balance to life and philosophy behind old barns

In the light of upcoming workshops, I decided to post some painting steps in order to set potential students in the right mood. These barns are not the same we will be doing during adult acrylic painting workshops. These we were painting during 2013 and 2014 spring classes.

I will also place some pictures about preparation of canvas for workshops and classes during the new painting session. It is not complicated, I also expect meeting some of the students and artists on August 3rd.

We all have some problems, some less bothersome, some more persistent and severe. I can tell from my experience that indulging in some painting helps incredibly and allows to find piece of mind and to forget about some not that pleasant stuff . It can be simple sketch and it can be multiple step painting: that is not of importance. The main thing is to immerse oneself into the meditative state of creation. Many students have told me they sometimes needed these classes and come-together so much just because life was too stormy or too complicated. These art classes served as a safe harbor where to take a breath and see further perspectives along the road.

This year we will be working on under-painted or at least toned canvasses.

This will save us time, as well, and it is much easier for many students to start out on a medium dark surface than on a completely white. It is just our perception, but painting happens smoother and faster this way.

Underpainting canvas

You will need a fairly large brush which can be some old brush or not that expensive brush. I am using some leftover or not that great quality paint. It is advisable to use some brown and grayish shades or warm oranges and red browns for those who love bright colors. I personally prefer neutral base since that works the best with my perception. This is something one can choose depending on their personal preferences.

Preparing canvas for classes


You should not make the base coat very dark since acrylic requires quite a few layers to build up lights. We are using 20 x 16 inches canvasses in workshops and in art classes. Slightly smaller size is fine, however, much larger will not allow finishing painting during classes.

You can mix paint and gesso straight on canvas. No worries if you get not very smooth color, however, there should not be any texture yet since that may disturb during painting.

Neutral gesso and paint coat on canvas

Just brush the mixture on not forgetting edges because we are always painting around the edges as we go. That gives us a ready to hang painting which can be used without a frame. Allow some time to dry, at room temperatures, that may be 2-3 hours depending on what paint and how thick layer you have applied.

Students love watching time-lapse and speed painting videos. However, I would like to remind that painting in reality requires much more time. If you have decided to join workshops or classes, please be prepared that painting is not ready in one or two hours.

When I look at old barns, they make me feel warm. It is hard to explain, but cozy, too, which is somehow weird, but, nevertheless, I am painting them warm and cozy because that is how I perceive these objects. When I see abandoned farms or barns, I have to think about people who long ago were there. Why don’t they come back to fix the barn? Where are they now? Did they move away, or are they in another reality? Sort of nostalgia mixed with sadness and realization that Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas. The strongest controversy straight before our eyes: the present wild beauty of the nature and an abandoned building with blind and empty windows witnessing past and better days. Well, there is so much behind a simple old barn in the wildly blooming summer day or at he mirror-like lakeside.

Barn paintings steps: acrylic for adults

Talking about the steps, there were quite a few. I would always start with just dark and general outlines or blocks of shapes which get defined and refined during the painting process.

Basic layers to block in main shapes

Basic layers to block in main shapes

Painting half done

Barn has got some red and fields, too

Placing them side by side allows noticing what needs more work

Placing paintings side by side allows noticing what needs more work

Why don't they come to fix it?

Why don’t they come to fix it?

Mirroring the past

Mirroring the past

August barn project: old barn paintings in acrylic

The collage view of the most recent versions: old barn paintings in acrylic

The most unpleasant drawback of acrylic paints is the loss of lights and highlights as the painting dries. Therefore, we may need to rework some by adding more and more light color as the paint settles down. That does not happen right away, I have had paints which became dark only after some 2 weeks. That is  something we learn cope with because the advantages of acrylic paints outweigh their minuses plenty of times.

I hope you will enjoy our workshops!


The perfect gift for Mother’s Day

My students have frequently told how well my art classes are working for them. It is a great time not only for them, I have to admit that these classes have become an inevitable part of my week, as well. It almost feels like I am missing something during the vacations. Some students feel like real good friends to me since they have been coming to our weekly classes for about 3 years. I suppose, this is not only because of learning, it is fantastic to have this time together. It is true that we all have choice: we can kill our sadness or troubles in a company of a wine bottle, in a bar, dancing, doing sports, overeating or starving, walking in a park or creating something. These people have chosen to create something, to learn something and to have a very relaxing and enjoyable time.

We all know mothers who have brushes, paints and canvasses; they are however, not on their easels or painting desks. They are pushed deep in drawers or hidden in storage boxes for the day “when I have more time”. We know life is hectic; there are so many duties, obligations and tasks to deal with! Many years ago when I was in my thirties, I had an older woman as my friend. I was wondering often how she got everything done and had still time for concerts, outings, trips and visits to friends’ places. She told me this. “You know, dishes, laundry, cleaning: that is something endless, there’s always more of it and there’s never time enough to do it perfectly. I chose to simply take some time off when I need to and nothing too crucial has happened so far neither with our dishes, house, nor clothes. I realize, my house is not perfectly polished at some moments, but do I want to say at the end of the day all I did was cleaning, washing up dishes and doing work around the house? There’s more life out there, so I just had to disregard some not that urgent stuff and make nice things happen for me.” I followed this advice and ever since I had all weekends for doing something more than just routine duties.

One more thing is that we have to learn to say “no”. I have no time for this, and I no, I am not going to this event, and no, I’m not watching this. No, my dear family, I will not be cooking tonight since I have art class. That’s exactly how it works. Once in the studio, they are out of reach for all troubles and nuisances and annoying daily obligations, even phone conversations, bills and other provocative and stressful stuff. That takes care about a nice break during the week and that way one has always something to look for.

I painted this gift certificate as the second one for special occasions. I love that the receiver has something beautiful to look at. I’m not taking these certificates back; I’m only recording this in my register.

Some mothers already have it all, and it is not that easy to find a perfect gift for them. The best gift for many people nowadays is time for themselves or time for doing something peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable.

Beautiful gift certificate for mothers who love art, drawing or painting
Beautiful gift certificate for mothers who love art, drawing or painting

Gift certificate for art classes is a perfect solution for daughters who cannot spend a fortune for Mother’s Day, but would love to still give their mother a meaningful, valuable gift which does not get eaten up right away and does not wither within two next days.

Payments can be made in person, using e-mail transfer or Paypal.

The gift certificate can be picked up at the studio or I can send it to your e-mail.

Some of our projects for adult acrylic painting class, most students are beginners, besides

Liz poject paintings 1

Liz has painted these

Flowers on hill acrylic painting class for adults

More flowers on hills

Red tree project adult acrylic painting class

Red trees

NEW this fall: acrylic for teens and advanced drawing plus watercolor

Many teens expressed interest in acrylic painting last year.

Such classes are lots of fun, they are exciting, and students can create very real art for whatever needs they have: decorating teen’s room, giving as a gift or preparing a portfolio for future studies in an art college.

Acrylic painting classes

I have scheduled 1 acrylic painting class for teens and young adults (10 to 18 years) during this fall term.

Thursday 5.30 pm – 6.30 pm (teens/youth 10-18) Fee: $14

Lots of excitement, lots of discoveries, lots of fun, not to mention the happiness of having created something.

Materials are not included; however, the material list for teens is noticeably smaller than for adults.

Acrylic painting supplies

Canvas, canvas board or heavy watercolor paper approximately 14 x 18 in or 16 x 20 inches in size.

2 or 3 fairly soft brushes: 1 flat (1 to 1.5 in), 2 rounds: 1 size 8, and 1 size 12 with fine tips.

Acrylic paints:

Titanium white; Payne’s gray; Cadmium red medium, Cadmium yellow medium, either Cerulean blue or Ultramarine blue. More colors are optional.

Pencil, eraser, red, brown, blue markers

Pretty many sheets of thick paper towel and medium large plastic or paper plates

Kids and teens who want to draw more and use watercolor or watercolor pencils are welcome to attend 2 Tuesday watercolor and drawing classes and 1 Wednesday drawing, sketching and painting class:

Tuesday 5.30 pm- 6.30 pm (teens/youth 9-15) Fee: $14

Tuesday 7 pm- 8.30 pm (teens 10-18) Fee: $16

Wednesday 5.30 pm- 6.30 pm (teens/youth 9-15) Fee: $14

Development of observational drawing, visual perception and artistic abilities; starting with simple objects, perspectives and scenes and gradually achieving excellent results. Very exciting classes with plenty of pleasure to explore new themes.

Watercolor painting supplies

Materials include good watercolor paint set (please do not get absolutely spicy shades), watercolor paper from 14 x 18 and up to 16 x 20 in; 3 watercolor brushes: 1 flat (1 inch); 1 round size 8 and 1 round size 10-12, all with fine tips, pencil, eraser, cardboard base and painters tape to attach the paper, rather larger size plastic palette for mixing up paints and fairly many sheets of paper towel.

Watercolor pencils are optional.

Registration is already on.

Art classes: acrylic pancy painting

I have scheduled an introductory class for new students and those who might be interested on August 29 between 4 and 6 pm. I will pass out applications, answer questions and show materials.

I hope to see you at my studio-gallery!

Students told they really enjoyed my classes last year!

For any questions, please e-mail:

Materials for acrylic painting classes

This post reviews art supplies for acrylic painting classes, pleasure painting and workshops. I decided to post also some pictures and brief explanations about art materials which are used in my acrylic painting classes. Note: pictures show Golden brand, we ARE NOT using Golden as a medium of our choice any longer. Tubes are difficult to open, they break and quality does not go hand in hand with the high price. Please keep reading to see what we prefer.

Summary: 3-4 brushes for acrylic, pencil, acrylic marker/s; 8 or 9 colors of acrylic paint; 16 x 20 inch canvas, white plastic disposable plate, 5 sheets of paper towel, please see below what brushes and paints.

You will need for almost every class or workshop acrylic markers or similar markers with medium fine tips which do not bleed with application of water in black, red, green and blue colors. If you can afford only one, please get black or dark brown marker. It is extremely important you have it. For initial sketching we are using any graphite pencil. Medium softness works the best.

Please get rather separate paint tubes than any sets. Do not buy beginner sets which consist of different fairly low quality brushes and paints which won’t work for any medium: neither watercolor, nor acrylic, nor oil. These brushes are difficult to use, too small and they are definitely not intended for larger size artworks. If you would like your paintings last, you should always use artist grade paints which won’t fade away that easily, and provide better covering and curing effects.

The colors we are using most often are:

White: Titanium white, required more than other colors, please get a good brand because the student’s grade white does not work too well. White is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

For darks: Black, and/or Raw umber, Black and/or Payne’s grey; if you can afford only one, please get Black

Red is important color: Primary magenta or Cadmium medium red; Quinacridone crimson, Crimson pyrrole, Naphtol red light or medium. Generally speaking, one dark red and one light red would do. Primary magenta covers the broadest range of necessary reds, but we love Carmine red (Crimson lake, Carmine lake) and Pyrrole red.

2 yellow shades: Hansa or Lemon yellow for light greenish yellow shades; Cadmium yellow medium for warm yellow. Yellow is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Yellow ochre or golden ochre, yellow oxide: we use them quite often

Much used: Burnt sienna

Much used: Burnt umber (warm deep brown shade) or Raw umber (almost black brown which is used in many mixes for dark shades), we are also mixing it with lemon yellow for attractive green shades

We use a lot of blue: Sky blue, Prussian blue, Cobalt blue and Ultramarine blue

Prussian blue: very much recommended, we use it almost always

Cold shade  premixed grey: to save time, but you can mix it up from black and other shades

You do not need any premixed green paint unless you are using large amounts of straight green. We are mixing up different shades of green.

Orange is useful for mixing up good other colors.

It is better to buy only a few tubes/jars of a good paint than have very many of bad paint. Other paints you will get as you go depending on what you like more/what you paint more. If you are limited to only 8 paints, you should get white, black, lemon yellow and Cadmium yellow medium, Prussian blue, Primary magenta, burnt sienna and burnt umber. It is great to have golden or yellow ochre, as well.

We like Liquitex heavy body most because of easy to use tubes, and Graham has fairly good quality acrylic paints, recently good option for starting out is Amsterdam brand acrylic paints and Liquitex Basics. Both have easy to use tubes, their whites, yellows and other light colors make sense. Golden is acceptable, but not recommended: bad tubes, difficult to open and close, and they have really bad Titanium white. Do not buy Open Golden acrylics, they are terribly sticky and bad for use in the class. We find the other brands unsatisfactory for many reasons. So called Galleria acrylics by Winsor and Newton practically don’t work, they act rather as a paste than paint, if you need something inexpensive, please stick with Amsterdam or Liquitex Basics.

Do not buy paints at Wallmart or Dollar store, crafter’s acrylics do not work for our painting style; but they have some really inexpensive good size canvas/canvas boards (16 x 20 in) which are good for practicing. For easier painting experience, art store canvas works better. If you are buying at Curry’s or other art store, choose canvas/canvas boards 16 x 20 in. Curry’s has better art products than Michael’s, and prices are more reasonable at Curry’s art store.

There are value packs of stretched canvas, 3 or 2, or even 5 together. Canvas boards are very inexpensive. Just remember the size: 16 x 20 inches. Painting on a ready to use stretched canvas allows to hang painting on the wall without a frame straight after you have finished it.

You will need at least 1 flat brush, about 3/4 or 1 inch wide, fairly soft, synthetic, inexpensive (look for something cheaper for acrylic or watercolor, not the stiff ones for oils) and a few round brushes with fine tip (size 4, 6, 8 to 12, it’s good to have a few). Generally speaking, the larger your canvas, the larger brushes. We use fan brushes, stiff cut out brushes for spotting (like the brushes for window or wood painting, just a smaller width). We adjust also flat oil brushes for this purpose. Bristles have to be uneven, we cut these brushes out using scissors. Please remember not to get oil brushes (they are not soft on touch and have visibly rough bristles) for basic painting with acrylics.

For texture effects, we can use seaweed sponges. Some have surface which is compiled of tiny sharp tops, choose those ones.

For strong textures, we are using modeling paste. However, drying takes a lot of time and we cannot apply it during the class. Whenever we need it, you’ll get instructions.

Having extender and glazing medium is a good thing, however, they are fairly expensive and painting can be done without these mediums, as well. Mediums help with blending or glazing, or keep the paint moist for longer time. Blending medium is a fairly good thing. However, we usually survive just using mist out of spray bottle.

Spray bottle with water helps.

We are using quite a lot of strong/thick paper towel, minimum 5-6 sheets for class; and any medium or larger size white plastic plate can be used instead of palette; very small paper plates do not work for this purpose, paper absorbs paint. If you have mixing paper, please place it in a flat box like a lid of a shoe box.

Plastic knives can be used for mixing up paint.

Please dress so that possible paint spots don’t damage your clothes, wear something which can be made dirty. We get spots even on sleeves, shoes, etc.

When it is snowy, muddy or dirty, you will need to switch to slippers or similar footwear.

I hope I covered the most often asked questions, and see you in my art classes!