I signed up for an online painting class! My recent watercolor dabblings sparked an interest to work with acrylic and gouache, and it seems the “Get Your Paint On” class was the kick in the pants I needed! I found out about the course a few weeks before it started, but waffled back and forth about whether to sign up until two days after it started. I’m so glad I went for it!
Week One’s class was designed to get students putting paint on canvas, panels, or paper. I chose acrylic and canvas for the first project. The source of inspiration was the Gee’s Bend Quilters, a group of women from Alabama who have a quilting style that is full of bold colors and improvised shapes and patterns.
To generate ideas for my painting I started out by making a series of sketches with oil pastel. I had luckily come across a large 11″ x 14″ sketchbook while cleaning up in the basement, so my sketches were all drawn loosely, quickly, and on a relatively larger scale than what I’m used to. The oil pastel was fun to work with. It has a very rich texture, and the colors are saturated and bold.
As you can see, I created a lot of sketches! In the end, I decided to continue with the pattern in the image that’s directly above, right for the painting.
Initially I thought that I’d pencil in the lines and carefully construct the composition of the sketch. when I was ready to start, however, I decided to embrace the impromptu quality that the quilts were often made with, so I dove in with the paint first.
In the first round of painting, you can see that I chose a pink underpainting for this piece. I wanted the painting to be warm, and didn’t like the idea of stark white possibly peeking through. I chose a medium sized round sable brush, which was somewhat difficult to maneuver since it was pretty floppy. I had a hard time getting a straight smooth edge but didn’t think about switching brushes until I started painting the next day. At this point The main color that’s missing is the purple, which when added really changes the look and feel of the piece.
I blocked in the purple areas roughly, with the intention of refining all the color blocks after this stage. The biggest change I made from the first round to this was to use a different brush, which made a HUGE difference. Instead of the floppy round brush, I chose a stiff, almost bristly, flat brush. It was probably still a bit rougher than it should be but was a lot more robust, and it was easy to get a smooth uniform stroke and edge.
Perhaps this third stage almost looks like a step back? I didn’t want to be afraid of “ruining” it by correcting or adjusting the areas that I wanted to revisit, so I purposely scruffed up the purple frame color because I knew I was going to repaint it anyway. This helped me not worry about painting over the other areas of purple while I was adding layers or adjusting the edges of some of the other colors.
For the final round of painting, all I had to do was clean up the purple areas.
Overall I’m happy with the final painting, although I must say, I really admired a lot of my classmates’ work that was loose and full of texture. I like to think that my painting shows the graphic designer in me coming through, but it was also good practice to get the painting to this final, flat finish. It’s possible I’ll revisit this painting if I have an idea for how to add some other elements, but for now I’m happy to leave it as a useful and informative first painting.
Week Two’s assignment is to take inspiration from a favorite work of art. I haven’t zeroed in on the artist or piece that will inspire me, but the wheels are turning, and I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon enough. So far this experience has been incredibly rewarding, and I’ve already learned a lot. I am really excited to see how the remaining four weeks go.