I'm kind of sad to have finished my last painting for the Get Your Paint On class I've been taking on-line with Lisa Congdon and Mati McDonough. It has been a wonderful experience that I highly recommend. I was unsure about the internet format, but it absolutely works. They provided instruction via a blog with an assignment each Monday. As class members finished their works, we uploaded them to a private Flickr group where other class members and the instructors could see and comment on them. The community created was wonderful and supportive and I've learned so much. I had painted very little before and found myself enjoying the broad strokes of the brush rather than the fine lines of a pencil or pen. It was liberating!
For the last week, we were to use the principles we learned during the class about color, composition, style, and technical skill. I have been watching robins nesting on the porch outside of my studio window all spring. In fact, Mrs. Robin's second brood just hatched today. We also had several robins nests nestled into windows at our renovation project where I could closely see the 3 eggs. I decided to paint the nest with its eggs and Mrs. Robin checking on them. That left an empty spot on the right that needed some greenery to represent the lilacs surrounding the nest.
What did I learn this week?
1. Stay loose. I tried to be too exacting and got blocked. This painting was originally going to show the brick column on the porch, the nest, the way the beams meet in the corner...I had some initial parts of it painted and just didn't know where to go from there. I gessoed over the original canvas and started over. The new painting went much better.
2. Don't be afraid! I painted the nest and eggs first and was really pleased with them. But then I was afraid I'd mess up the robin and therefore mess up the painting. Then when I was pleased with the robin, I was afraid I'd mess up the branch. (It was a rough week.) It took me 3 days to finish the painting once I had started because I took a lot of time to study and decide where to put the next element.
3. Keep adjusting as needed. After I painted the robin, it didn't look like it belonged in the painting. I finally realized that if I painted the beak a shade of yellow that was in the nest, that would pull it together. I tried to do the same with the branch by adding a touch of yellow.
4. Buy a big tube of white paint! Over the course of the class, I've used lots and lots of white paint. It is wonderful for toning down too saturated colors, clouds, creating a transparent wash. And you need lots of white to make a dent on those bright colors too. Just a tad of black, but LOTS of white.
I'm really pleased with my work this week. I'm by no means an expert, but did much better than I expected. I can see more painting in my future and am thrilled with the creative boost the class provided!