Both of my art teachers this summer seemed to think that everyone who took their classes did so to become an artist. They talked about framing every painting, displaying them at home, preserving them to pass down to our grandchildren and the generations to come.
Being a good student, I fulfilled the project requirements; although I didn’t create a single piece that I actually want to hang up in my home. I’m kind of picky when it comes to my personal art collection, and I want it to be good art. Or at least art that I like. Not awkward beginner’s art, the pieces made as exercises to learn and practice a particular skill.
I understand how this conclusion can be drawn. In fact, there were vocal students in both classes who talked enthusiastically about displaying their work, of how proud they were of what they could do. Me, I was there to learn something new. I know I had a little experience/talent for illustrations, but I am no prodigy.
Plus, I came to these classes immediately after visiting the National Gallery, the Hermitage, and the Louvre. That’ll humble anyone. I know what good art looks like. This isn’t it.
Disclaimer aside, I did create art this summer, and some of you have been nice enough to ask about it. Here, then, are some of the paintings from my Introduction to Watercolors class.
One of the first tasks I set myself to was creating a color chart showing the effects of mixing each of the colors in my palette, one with the other. It took a full studio period, but I referred to it every time I picked up a brush thereafter, so I count it as time not wasted.
I was surprised by how much control and opportunity for manipulation watercolors affords. I was less enthusiastic about the watercolor class than my oil painting one, preferring the aesthetic of oil. My watercolor teacher didn’t really help with this, since her personal style of painting is the kind of watercolor look and technique that I dislike. Generally I am drawn to careful, highly controlled, detail-packed. She’s of the “let’s pour paint all over this sketch I just made and see what happens!” school.
However, once I learned some of the ways to work with the paint, I found that watercolor could be manipulated in ways quite pleasing to control-happy me.
For example, watercolors are much easier to put in and take back out again than oil. I tested this by making a quick sketch and then created highlights by using just a wet brush (no pigment) to go back into the flesh tones and lift out paint:
I learned this summer that human figures are the bane of my painting existence.
The piece with which I am most happy is actually a piece I did at home as a “thank you” gift for my parents:
I created miniature “city clusters” from our trip in June based on what stood out to me in each location (and based on what I could reasonably draw). Each cluster is pretty small – about three inches square. Here are the close-ups: