Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Joy of Art

Joy Schultz is aptly named! She loves her craft and encourages her students to find joy and be playful with whatever media they choose to use. I just finished a five-class series as part of the Arapahoe Community College Community Education Program called "A Dip into Art".

This week Joy invited us to experiment with acrylic paint. She gave us the three primary colors and some white. She suggested we use a stiff, angled brush. Following her example, we first added color and blended it with other colors directly on our paper. We tried different brush strokes and experimented with using a palette knife. We were then directed to recreate a pear she had on a handout. We were encouraged to use any color we liked, but as she modeled her painting, Joy talked about the merits of juxtaposing warm colors and cool colors to add dimension to the painting.

At the outset I decided I wanted my pear to be a bit more abstract than paintings I have done so far. I started out with purples and pinks. I played with different colors for the background and added colors to my pear. I used glazing techniques with the background to cover a color I was not particularly fond of. I was pleased with the outcome. In the end, my pear isn't all that abstract!

50 lb sketch paper approximately 12" X 12"

Next, Joy gave us a print of an oil painting by Louisa McElwain. The original painting was similar to this:

44" X 44" oil on canvas
Louisa McElwain

Joy demonstrated and talked us through recreating the painting. Our time was running out so she took our work away from us after 35 minutes, and displayed our paintings for comparison and critique. I wish I had taken a picture, as it was great fun to see the variety in the not-so-finished products!

Here is my rendition of the red rocks of the west:
140 lb cold press watercolor paper approximately 12" X 12"

I liked how I was able to create such bright colors with only the three primary colors. I found it interesting to see how the rocks could come to life by simply using large blocks of color. With more time I would have added more grass detail in the foreground and I would had added some pink and purple to the underside of the clouds.

The sequence of classes with Joy Schultz have run their course. However, the instruction I received has left me many things to focus on over the next weeks months!

Some of the "take aways" that will provide me with direction going forward include:

  • Charcoal is a great medium by itself, or mixed with others, because it is 'movable'.
  • When working with charcoal or pastels, work fat over lean. Begin with a thin layer and build on top of it.
  • Keep in mind the variations that can be achieved in changing the value of the color you are working with.
  • Intense colors move forward, while cool colors go back.
  • You can mix cool colors together to form a warm color. However, you can not make a cool color from warm colors.
  • Adding the third color of the primary colors to two other colors will neutralize the color. 
  • Surrounding an object of any color by other colors will change the quality of the object. Using a neutral color will cause the object to pop.
  • Look with your eye, not your brain.
  • Water colors are like children. You cannot control them, but you can appreciate them
  • The principles of working with water colors include:
    • work wet to dry
    • work big to small
    • work light to dark
    • work soft edges to harder edges
  • The objects in your work must have a relationship with each other. This might be accomplished through color.
More of Joy's work can be found at: The Joy of the Work

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