Saturday, August 6, 2011

Oil Painting Beginning Week for Atlelier Students 2011 Aug.

Oil Painting Beginning Week for Atelier Students Aug 2011
Two of my gifted teens in my Atelier program at my studio who have had drawing classes, workshops and pastel classes with me participated in a week long workshop to begin oil painting. Instead of insisting that they make color charts, do tenuous value drawings of casts, I decided to launch them head on into the medium, going from start to a finish. Not using an alla prima approach or  plein air approach and not like classical realism either. I wanted them to feel a sense of accomplishment at the conclusion of their week and eliminate any fear or mystery connected with the oil medium. They already learned the basics of drawing, value, composition and color from me using pastel so now I wanted to transfer that knowledge and experience to the oil painting as painlessly as possible.
On day one Shannon and Lydia arrived with their supplies ready to begin. I laid out a variety of still life items and a middle value cool mauve colored material to lay out as a background into my custom still life box propped up to eye level on my model's stand. I told them to take their time and use the material to drape into the box and to arrange what items they thought should be part of their painting. They created a general compostion for themselves to work with. I approved it and was impressed by the amount of drapery they used and the multitude and complexities of the folds they chose to incorporate. They used one strong vertical that was dark in value and an arrangement of shapes and colors that were artisically place.
We then used a variety of lighting choices to decide what kind of drama we wanted to evoke and what were the shadow patterns going to do for the total look of the painting.
I used a basic palette of primary colors but with a choice of warm and cool of each. So I chose Reds:  Cad Red Lt and Alizarin Crimson
Blues: Prussian Blue and Ultra Marine Blue
Yellows: Cad.Yellow Lt and Lemon Yellow
I added A mixed white, foundation white and a flake white at the end of the work.
I added yellow ochre , raw sienna, burnt sienna and naples yellow.

I had my students use a grey paper palette that they would use fresh each day but use whatever left over paint from the day before as well.
We used a odor free turp and some liquid for medium for convenience and faster drying as well
My students used Raphael linen board in approx. 11 x 14 size . I believe in using "good quality art supplies" with each and every art work created as archival is important to me.
Teaching the students to respect their supplies and the work they create is paramount to me as it gives my students a real sense of what a professional artist should be and respect for their work.
I teach them to take each step of painting with thought, decipline, knowledge and the desire to put their very best into each work they create. I usually have to slow down their process in order to allow them the time it takes to find solutions as they paint.
The still life pictured above is the final arrangement that Shannon and Lydia decided to paint. As you can see in a photograph, there are either cool or warm colors and the subjects have very hard edges. In life our eyes can see both warm and cool temperature of colors and we see soft edges. So working from life is so very important.

This is the layout of my composition in a square format. I chose to crop in every direction and arrange what I thought best for my surface. The class toned their linen surfaces with a turpentine wash of Lt. and while it dried a little they laid out their paints on their palettes. I positioned myself with my steps of the oil painting just below my students and in front of each of them so that they could watch each step I used in painting my own work. I never left the studio while teaching this class as they needed me to be there in front of them in order to make the progress I wanted them to make in just 5 days. Both Shannon and Lydia used a vertical format for their surfaces and each cropped their still life in creative ways.  I could see that each wanted to be unique in their interpretations of the still life.
This is Lydia's beginning layout in oil , using transparent colors and turpentine washes to cover her linen. The drawing lighting started with charcoal but rapidly proceeding to the oil drawing.
This is Shannon's lay in for her oil and it became evident that my two girl students had different techniques and styles for creating their work. However they followed each step of my teaching . This was important to me, to keep them on the right track of the process but hold on the unique styles that each student has.
Shannon was bolder, darker, more powerful and elongated with her strokes and seemingly unafraid of paint at all. I had to teach her to hold back, be more thoughtful and deliberate with her steps.
This is Lydia's oil still life half way through and you can see from the second photo of her work that she drew right through her oil to correct and make her drapery and bread more structural and she learned to fake the label writing on the wine bottle to appear very normal and not make it stand out
The build up of paint quality each day was evident to my students and they learned about opaque paint over transparent and fat over lean, a common phrase used for painting with more oil content over paint with less. The surface builds up layers of paint as it properly should and the feel of the paint changes. Lydia was strong in her drawing, great with her sense of values and learning to manipulate and handle the various stages of painting. We painted for a timed 25 minutes and then stopped , stood back and evaluated the work and made the proper critiques to go back for the next 25 min. session of working. They learned from my work, from one another's work and from their own work each time. It gave my students a strong sense of the process of fine art painting and confidence as well.
Shannon's work was building up and it became evident to me that she was either going to paint very thickly with a brush or she would adapt wonderfully with palette knife painting. I gave her a smaller palette knife and let her proceed with the process with palette knife painting and she became even more comfortable. It did not prevent her from working at 25 min intervals, evaluating her work, accepting constructive critiques and going back to her work process and making adjustments for a better and better painting. I slowed down Shannon's painting and allowed her to make her work better and stronger with each step. The oil content of her painting glistened with a jewel like quality and the intensity of her color choices just sang out!

Lydia's first completed oil still life after 5 full days in the studio, working 9-4pm each day is successful and the process of creating an oil painting from start to finish will stay with her as she continues her training with me. I advised her to make a project for herself to paint some small 5x7 surfaces with some a fruit or vegetable and complimentary colors for the backgrounds so that she could feel more comfortable with using more intensity in her colors and perhaps see the color temperatures more easily. Time for Lydia to have a small designated studio space made for her in her hone so that she can feel comfortable with herself working more consistently. I will be working with Lydia continuously now for the next two years to build up her abilities, confidence, and her portfolio for a future art career.

Shannon completed a great jewel of a painting and had a little time to set up an orange using a complimentary green blue color background cloth to create a 6 x 8 palette knife painting with some real intense color and texture. Shannon will work with me for the next year to acquire a scholarship to a great art college for the following year. Her resume is increasing in content and her work just changes and grows with each challenge she takes on. I anticipate great new works by Shannon this year.

The completion of a very successful Atelier Oil Painting Workshop with two gifted and wonderful students I will have the privilege to teach, watch grow, and go off to be the artists they are destined to be.
Shannon Blencowe 17 yrs. old
Lydia Tokonow 16 yrs. old
and oh yes studio kitty Jolie!

My demonstration painting for my students to watch step by step by Claudia Post

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