Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My First Painting Class

One of the required courses that all Montserrat students must take is called Painting, Color & Light. The class is basically an introduction to oil painting, as well as color theory. I am taking it this semester, and it has certainly given me a run for my money.

One of the reasons why I am finding this class among the most difficult is the fact that we are working with oil paint. I had worked with oil paints in the past, and drifted away from them due to the fact that they dry very slowly. I prefer to work quickly, and thus oil is a frustrating medium for me. Acrylics have always been the paint I prefer. Nevertheless, I am learning how to better use oil paint, and how to be patient with my work.

Among the first assignments we had in the class were a series of color grids (see image below) where the goal was to tint and tone colors. These, while monotonous, proved to be very educational, and helped me to understand better the process of mixing colors. My grids are somewhat successful, but there are still many places where the color "jumps" to the next too rapidly. Practice makes perfect.

The next assignment that we had that was related to color theory was a pair of "master copies". These are (as the name indicates) copies of a master artist's painting. One of them had to be an exact replica in full color, and the other in sepia tone (limited to cadmium orange, black, and white paint). I chose to do William Adolphe Bouguereau's Dante and Virgil in Hell, on a 24"x30" canvas. Though I enjoyed this assignment, I was a bit too ambitious with my choice, and found myself struggling to meet the assignment deadline. In fact, neither of my copies are completed yet. I hope to find time over the summer to bring them to full completion.

While the "master copies" were being completed at home, in class I worked on a still life. The objects our professor set up were black, white, and gray, and were placed on a black and white striped cloth. We were only allowed to use black, white, cadmium orange, and cerulean blue for this assignment. One might wonder why the cadmium orange and cerulean blue are necessary in a black/white still life... but after some observation, the answer becomes clear. The more and more I stared at the still life, the more I could see the blues and oranges coming out. Though subtle, they were definitely there. We had to incorporate them into our paintings (which was difficult at times), but I feel that it yielded one of my most successful pieces yet.

In progress right now is a self portrait, inspired by the brilliant artist Jenny Saville. The piece is due on Wednesday, and I hope to post it when I finish it. I'm a bit behind at the moment, but feel confident that I'll be able to finish on time.

Painting class has proven to be fun, frustrating, and difficult. It's a great way to explore a medium that I've only had a small amount of experience in.


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