Art classes: A worthwhile activity

What is the best way to never feel bored again? How to give one’s life a new meaning?  How to make long winter nights shorter not wasting time in the front of TV? Very simple: by doing something pleasurable and rewarding. Arts fits in this type of activities just perfectly. Not everybody feels like dancing or exercising every weeknight. Not everybody has a good company on his/her own. That’s where I come in with my art classes for beginners and people who simply enjoy colors, shapes and images. Some students will continue painting, some will have art only as a hobby, and some students will enjoy time spent in a nice atmosphere. Whatever way it is done, it is worth it. It is amazing to hear after a class how surprised and satisfied students are that they were able to create something on their own.

Resuming art and painting classes for adults

Wednesday acrylic painting group started to work on fall maple images

Lots of potential students are asking: do they need to be good at drawing or painting? The answer is: no, they do not. It is enough that somebody has found time, and this is a good way to spend it. People who feel they depend on their mobile devices, laptops and computers should give this some consideration, as well. We are learning how not to use any devices, printouts or digital references.

Adult acrylic painting for beginners

Thursday acrylic painting class for adults enjoyed drawing, sketching and painting still life. The first part is done, and results look very promising.

Drawing and some painting is done observing and re-creating objects on canvas or paper. It may be challenging at first, but this approach is the most natural one and provides with real artistic freedom.

I love birds and Natural Awakenings publishes my painting on the August issue cover

Once I started to paint and draw  birds, I unexpectedly found a new interesting scope of material. There’s so much to explore! My first paintings of birds were very approximate. I just tried to give them some character, that’s all. I’m paying more attention to the arrangement of colors, etc. on wings and other feathers and to their external anatomy.

I like most birds, and I really need to love or somehow like that stuff which I am going to draw or paint. That’s pretty much the reason I stopped painting human portraits.

Chaffinch in the grass watercolor painting

Chaffinch 4, watercolor painting of bird

Nature has the most wonderful variety of everything, from small to huge, from simple to complicated.


Chaffinch 3, bird painting in watercolor

I suppose, I will keep studying birds for a while. I do get tired of similar images, though, that’s why the next paintings to finish are three-dimensional landscapes.

Taking about landscapes: my painting “Overlooking the Meadow” will be on the cover of Natural Awakenings Magazine.

Overlooking the meadow

Natural Awakenings is a free publication about healthy living that is available in over 90 cities in the U.S and Puerto Rico, with a readership of over three million. I had my market scene on their cover in 2012, and immediately after that I sold some paintings. Well, if you happen to see this magazine, pick it up for free. They write about useful things there. I also find amazing that they contacted me already 2 times.

That’s it, our last art class of the spring term

We said good-bye to each other until the fall. There were lots of hearty and sincere have-a great-summer wishes and thankful hugs. Teen class was obviously not that excited, but the pleasure of seeing big surprise in parents eyes when they hardly can believe in the great achievements of their kids is hard to describe.

Floral watercolor painting demo: using washes and negative painting technique

Quick floral demo, just the first part

My art students are very different, some would paint small details for hours, some don’t find still life exciting, but all of them wanted to become more skilled, more insightful and more creative.

The best results are achieved with patience and persistence. Time is the most challenging factor, and we are so often short of it. Those students who were able to find time, definitely enjoyed their creative experience.

Rural acrylic painting, barn painting

The adult acrylic painting class was doing rural scene with barns. Even though, not everyone was able to attend the last class, I have to admit that their progress was very obvious (when students start to come to classes, they have absolutely no experience with acrylics).

Acrylic painting of old barn, in progress

Barns are amazingly pleasurable things to paint

Paintings are still in progress, but I’m sure they will be done after a while

We used only red, yellow and blue, and applied these colors in very loose washes

Negative watercolor painting technique: floral

Painting negatively with positive attitude

Teen watercolor painting class

We are paying the most attention to the development of observational skills, and less to implementation of the photographic likeness what camera sees.

My fall schedule is more compact, all classes take place in the middle of week, so that students don’t have to miss them because of parties, celebrations and long weekends. I have also separated landscape painting and floral/still life painting. I am starting acrylic painting classes for teens 12+ in the fall, as well. There were many requests.

Materials for acrylic painting classes

This post reviews art supplies for acrylic painting classes and workshops. 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: 1-2 brushes for acrylic, pencil, acrylic marker/s; 8 or 9 colors of acrylic paint; 12 x 16 in or up to 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  first class or workshop acrylic marker with medium fine tip which do not bleed with application of water in black color.  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 low quality brushes and paints which won’t work for any medium: neither watercolor, nor acrylic, nor oil.  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 also.

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, 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 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 which are good for practicing. If you are buying at Curry’s or other art store, choose canvas/canvas boards  16 x 12 in (if you are rather slow learner) to 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. 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,  3/4 in wide, and 1 flat 1 in wide; fairly soft, synthetic, inexpensive (look for something cheaper for acrylic or watercolor, not the stiff one for oils) and a round brush with fine tip, size 6 to 8. 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 every first class. Whenever we need it, you’ll get instructions.

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!