Friday, February 09, 2007

Learning by Teaching

It is still early in 2007 and already I have taught a six-day workshop in oil portraits in North Carolina, five three-hour sessions of my weekly classes in my teaching studio, and I have attended one four-day workshop! I have six more painting or drawing workshops and those weekly classes scheduled to teach for the remainder of the year.
A schedule like this is very time consuming, not to mention that it seriously cuts into what might otherwise be painting time. So I often question why I keep doing it!
The first answer is, of course, the most obvious. It helps pay the bills. There are times when painting sales and commissions may be slow in coming, and teaching helps fill those gaps. While I keep my class and workshop prices as low as possible, the income is still a necessary addition to the income stream. The other reasons I continue to teach are far less tangible. I have given much thought to this and have found that I have really learned by teaching. I have learned about my own philosophical and analytical thinking every time I have to explain a particular aspect of painting to a student. I must think, question and explore while I am painting and read constantly to stay abreast of other artists, their art, their methods and their styles. I have to understand color and composition well enough that I can explain them to students in ways that will be meaningful to their progress as painters.
I love learning so this is wonderful for me. And I truly love imparting what I know to others hungry to know it! There is nothing as gratifying as seeing a student in an A-Ha! moment only to go on to improve their work with his or her newfound knowledge.
The last, but certainly not least, aspect of teaching is the forging of wonderful friendships with those whose interests are well aligned with mine. There are a good number of students who have taken my classes or workshops for years and my life would not be the same without them. I thank them all.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On Painting Snow

Note: I started this post on February 1, 2007 and am just finishing it on April 15th!

my weekly painting class cancelled this morning due to snow and ice that fell overnight, blanketing these mountain roads and fields with both beauty and treachery, I thought I would take advantage of the time and write about painting snow. I am looking out the window behind my computer desk as I type. If it weren't for the icy cold rain and sleet that is still falling, not to mention the warm and comforting fire in the fireplace, I would be out painting or, at the very least, photographing the snow-covered hills, trees and pastures. I LOVE painting snowy winter scenes complete with the leafless skeletons of the deciduous trees, the snow laden evergreens, snow drifts and white topped fences, houses and barns!
In all of my drawing and painting classes and workshops, I stress the importance of value. In the language of visual art the term refers to how light or dark any color is as well as to the all the greys (neutrals) in the range from black to white. Painting snow, in light and in shadow, provides ample opportunity to maximize the effects of value for greatest impact.
Using color with white to add interest to the snow, cooler tones in the shadows, warmer tones in the light; pinks, greens, blues, yellows mixed with white add interest and intensify the effects of light on the snow.