The Art of Class- Know Where You’re Going

Forrest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates. I think life is like a box of paints and in the class of art, life and art often overlap. If you’re going on a trip somewhere don’t you want directions, don’t you use your GPS or a roadmap or ask a friend how to get there? So, if you’re going to do a painting don’t you want to know where the lights and darks are going to be, where the center of interest is, how your eye is going to flow through the composition? In the advanced class I get people to  do several eight and a half  by 11 black-and-white copies of the resource material or photo they want to use. On one take a black magic marker and outline the main compositional features, try not to use more than four lines-for example, one for the edge of the outline of the mountain, one for the edge of the trees, one for the lake and rocks, the sky will appear above the edge of the mountain. This will help you simplify your composition. Take another black-and-white copy and actually cut out all of the main compositional features-the mountain, lake, mid-ground trees-and rearrange them on another sheet of paper. Perhaps the mountain should be more to the left, or change the point of view – take the mountain closer to the top of the paper, have more foreground. All things that can help you find your way around the composition of a painting, and don’t we all like good directions!

Weekend workshop-March 24-25, 2012-Canmore

Kathy Horan pulls her first monoprint

In this weekend workshop the participants painted mountains, light on the snow and, by request, we did an afternoon of mono prints. I had forgotten how immediate and exciting mono prints can be. It is a system I devised when I wanted the effect of mono prints but did not want to use oil paints. Painting on glass, pressing the paper, and lifting to see the effect are all very organic. Then, you have to find those images-trees, streams, rocks, lakes-on the pulled paper and add and subtract paint before the first wash dries! Needless to say, this process works best when you can do several at one sitting. The more you do the better you get-isn’t that the way with everything in life?

Larch Valley-2012 and The Class of Art

“Larch Valley” by Donna Jo Massie

My latest painting at Canada House Gallery in Banff- “Larch Valley”. Personally, I love painting mountains and enjoy my summers hiking the trails. One of my students, who paints flowers beautifully, was struggling with her mountain landscapes. I asked, why don’t you paint flowers because you do them so well? She replied that she felt she should be doing something that she wasn’t good at. An admirable trait, but remember those artists that found the place or the subject that they love and that is what they painted…..this would be painters such as Andrew Wyeth and Chadds Ford, Georgia O’Keeffe and the desert of New Mexico,and Charlie Russell and the old west.

August Plein Air Workshop

We were fortunate to have sunny weather for outdoor painting at the August 20-21, 2011 workshop. The boardwalk is a short 10 minute walk from the Union Hall and there were spectacular views of Mt. Rundle, Ha-Ling and the Bow Valley! The mountain landscape workshop this year is on August 25-26-we’ll hope for more of the same weather so we can spend an afternoon outside again!