Monday
Feb272012

An Old Dog 

Normally I think of myself as as a pretty good teacher and watercolor artist. I'm confident. My formal education led me to teach music. I have much longer experience teaching and painting watercolor. But... I'm often humbled by what I myself learn from students in my classes.

I learn as I prepare to teach a class, reviewing notes from workshops I've taken, re-reading parts of my many watercolor books, looking through a very thick 3 ring binder filled with 30 years of articles cut from watercolor magazines, reviewing techniques on art DVD's, and doing research on the internet. Even if I already know much of what I plan to teach, a review is beneficial. Making lesson plans helps me organize my thinking. Preparing handouts with illustrations and class notes force me to find the best way to explain "why" of design and the "how" of techniques.

But one of the best ways for a teacher to learn is to listen to their students and observe what they do.

This year I had requests to teach the use of texture in abstracted paintings in the winter class I teach. While I have never taught this before, it is what I currently paint at home in my own studio. An advantage is that every class demo I finish will fit comfortably with the style work I am showing.

Putting random texture on the paper is the first step - and the easiest. Deciding what to do after that is far harder! When preparing visual examples of possibiltiies for that next step, I realized that painting the first, textured step in gray, then adding a second step in color would make it readily apparent to my students which was step one and which was step two.

As I proudly held up my samples in class, a student provided me with that AHA moment when she said, "These paintings would be great in black and white!" I had not thought of it myself, but that idea was immediately appealing to me. I could hardly wait to get started.

The goal I've set for myself is to complete a series of eight textured paintings that are essentially black and white. Each will be vertical and have two containers with unusual plants. I've completed the first two paintings in this series, and look forward to the exciting creative challenges posed by working within my self-imposed limitations.

Thank you Kay! I'm very much enjoying your suggestion. Disciplining myself to paint with such a limited palette forces me to employ design principles in different ways than usual. I may be an old dog, but I'm still learning new tricks.

Both "Two Vessels" paintings I've completed can be seen in the"Paintings" category on this website.