Monday, June 20, 2011

"Autumn Aspens"/Last Acrylics Class

Week 5 of Acrylics Class:
Had an absolutely lovely painting session. I continued the painting I started on week 4: a forest of aspens in the autumn. Here's what it looked like at the end of class 4 (the day I brought home my lighthouse painting).
As you can see, all I did was block in the background colors and draw the outlines for the future trees. On week 5, I had so much fun, because I got a lot of work done, and the whole time Jan had beautiful traditional South-American music playing as we painted. I've never been to South America, and the music is so haunting and magical it makes me "want to go to there"! ( ^_^ Tina Fey quote.)
On the left is how my painting looked by the end of class 5, and on the right is how my palette looked after class 5. A fellow student suggested that my palette looked almost as pretty as my painting, so I took a picture for good measure. I rushed a bit towards the end, and I really hoped to bring it home. Jan, in her infinite wisdom, instead convinced me to wait until next week (after adding more depth, shadow, and detail) to bring it home.

Week 6 of Acrylics Class:
On the day of my final acrylics class, my mom came with me. Just like my brother and sister 2 weeks ago, she got to see the gallery, meet my teacher and class-mates, and hang around listening to the music and watching me paint. Additionally, she shot some photos of me finishing my painting IN ACTION!
(As much action as you can get when you're painting acrylics, anyway.)
Dotting the trees...
Dotting the trees...
More paint, please. ^_^
...more paint please...
I'm having the best time...
Using the palette knife.
Here I'm using a palette knife.
It's not as easy as it looks, but with practice, everything gets easier.
Painting with a palette knife is not as easy as it looks, but with practice it becomes less of a challenge.
Time to sign my name on it!
I can sign my name to that!
Close up of my "sig"...
After I finished, I still had about half an hour left, so Jan said I could start another painting. She gave me a Romero Britto painting called "A New Day". Though the picture seems very simplistic and much easier than the ones I've already done, it's no less of a task to start it than the others. And wouldn't you know it, I wasn't able to finish it in time. Jan suggested I take it anyway along with the one I finished, and get myself some acrylics to finish it up at home.

Before my mom and I left, I asked Jan if I could take a picture with her, and she said okay. Isn't she the sweetest? I hope I never forget her.

Thank you very much Jan, if you ever read this, for all your help and for giving me so much confidence in my own creativity. You made me feel welcome, and that is all it takes sometimes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Lighthouse on the Sea" / Worth the Wait

Hi everyone! Since my initial blog-post about my first acrylics masterpiece, I've had a couple more classes that have humbled me up good and proper. Before, I thought that every week I'd bring home another new work of art to show everyone and I'd get that magnificent high of praise and positive feed-back that is craved by all people. Here's what really happened:

Week 2 of Acrylics Class:
Teacher Jan gives me a choice as to what my next subject will be. She gives me a few different photos, and I choose a pretty one with a lighthouse on a hill by the sea. I get right to work. 2 hours goes by in a snap! This is what I have produced by the time I have to go.
Believe it or not, this was not finished. I still had to do the proper layering, shadowing and highlighting of the rocks on the cliff and on the path, plus refine the houses in the distance. Jan promised me that I could leave my painting safe in her gallery for the week and I would come back to finish it next time.

I've seen the other students leave their work with her before, so I thought, okay then. When I got back home, my family was excited to see what I brought home, but they understood when I told them I wasn't finished with my latest work yet. My dad suggested next time to bring a camera with me so that I could at least show my work in progress.

Indeed, it is a great idea, and that's how I'm able to show you the unfinished product at all!

Week 3 of Acrylics Class:
I'm excited, I'm pumped, I'm ready to finish my painting and bring it home. At first, it is strange to begin with an already-started work, and I don't know how to approach the canvas confidently. Jan gives me good suggestions on what to work on and what tools are best for the job.

This week I was also introduced to this special stuff called artist's texturing gel. You mix it in with the paint and you're able to add a popping-out textured effect to a painting, creating the illusion of clouds, water, grass, tree-bark, etc...

I applied the paint straight on with a palette-knife instead of a paint-brush. Usually I use the knife just for mixing colors, so it felt very strange using it on canvas. I remember feeling very frustrated at times, especially when trying to paint the rocks and stuff.
Again, 2 hours went by, and I still was not done. I hate to admit it, but I felt very, very disappointed in myself that I still had not finished my painting, so much so, that I even cried a bit. In a quiet, repressed, stiff upper-lip way, not in a "wah-wah" way. I wanted so badly to recreate what I saw in the photo I was working from, that I stressed over the tiny little ways that made my painting and the photo different.

Then, Jan showed me a picture of a painting that she made of the same lighthouse. (Sorry I can't show it here folks. Just imagine it.) It was beautiful, but I noticed that her painting didn't look exactly like the photo either. In a few kind words, she convinced me that I might not see it then, but the finished painting was within my reach, and I just had to be patient with myself and the creative process. She was right of course, and I still felt sad that again I couldn't take it home, but I also felt better about myself.

Week 4 of Acrylics Class:
This time, my brother Adam and my twin sister Bettina joined me at my art class. They came to see what the class was like and what I actually do for two hours. What they mostly did was browse about the gallery, listen to the radio, and just sit around waiting for me to be done.
Meanwhile, I got to work finishing my lighthouse on the hill, and an hour and a half in, I finally was done! I could feel that Jan was proud of me when she said, "Now that's something you can sign your name to."
I spent the last half-hour starting up another painting, but that work will get it's own post in due time. I was so proud of myself! Bringing it home that day felt even more satisfying than the first time bringing my winter-wonderland painting home. My mom went out and bought me the perfect frame for it, and later that night, she helped my dad, my sister and me hang it up close by my first one.

(Hanging up a frame correctly is almost an art unto itself; it's pretty exhausting, actually, unless you get the easy kind of frame that has holes in the back for the nail, and not the annoying little hook-loop thing-ies my frame had.)

Friends, let my experience be a lesson to you. I keep learning these lessons over and over again, and hopefully the idea will sink in someday: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Never give-up or lose hope when something doesn't go exactly as you planned. Embrace the mistakes you make, and learn from them. It's all a part of growing-up, and everyone goes through it at some part of their lives, even the great master artists!