Friday, May 15, 2009

Gourd, Alla Prima oil painting

I'm not sure where my head has been. I should have posted this last week with the other oil painting demonstrations. This gourd elicited great consternation from my students who struggled with getting the undulating surface and transitions between the two colors correct. In some ways like the pumpkin and other ways not, my students failed to appreciate the color variations in the peaks and valleys of the surface. I told them it was not going to be easy but to look for the shapes of the colors and block them in as best they could. A few did well.

We've moved on to a small still life featuring a putty colored vase and a few more simple pieces of fruit. I did not do a demonstration this time around. Instead I did direct instruction and sketched on the whiteboard how they were to proceed, step-by-step. For some of my students this worked well, for others less so. So, I'll probably do a physical demonstration on Monday. A few were determined to do what they wanted while others--focused on getting it "right"--fell behind leaving me to dash back and forth.

Thoughts anyone on how to walk a class through the beginning painting process without doing a demonstration?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pear, alla prima oil painting

Here is the third in a series of still life demonstrations that I did for my students in Introduction to Painting, my alla prima painting class. Unlike Apple, I was able to complete this painting in the 15-20 minutes I allotted for my demo.

The three students who sat in on this demonstration saw the key point I have been reminding all of my students of from the beginning of this course. Namely, alla prima is meant to be immediate--it's direct painting. Most of my students struggle with over mixing, over blending and, generally, over doing it. That often translates into muddy colors and edges that are too sharp.

This particular fruit example was made particularly challenging for two reasons: there were two green, speckled "stripes" running down either side and two splashes of orangy-red on the other two sides. I showed them that this was merely an opportunity for alla prima to shine. I could have done the green "stripe" a bit more speckled with a broken line effect but I opted to focus more on the blending between the green and yellow underneath. The splashy orangy-red was more easy to achieve and gave my students what they needed seeing the blending happen in front of them.

For those particular students, it was important for them to see the blending happen in front of them. Surprisingly, this wasn't the first time they saw it but it helped two of the three with what they delivered in their own rendering of this composition.