At the Watts Atelier, students are encouraged to develop drawing skills before painting, which is why I spent my first year working with graphite and charcoal. In this first term of my second year, I’m taking my first oil painting class, taught by Meadow Gist. I’m focused on tonal black-and-white studies, and some warm-cool studies. Next term I’ll move on to full color. Mostly, I’m learning the basics…how to use the tools, how to move the paint around, how to clean up…I'm painting on canvas-covered board with boar bristle brushes and Gamlin paints. The instructor sets up an elaborate still life and I choose a vignette to paint. I take 2-3 hours in class to complete each painting, with instructor help where needed.
For paintings 1 and 2, I muddled my way through, just trying to end up with something recognizable. I started feeling more confidence with paintings 3 and 4. The fifth is a warm-cool study, using burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and titanium white. I’ll continue with warm-cool studies through the end of this term to explore the role color temperature plays in the illusion of form. For more on this approach, I refer you to Paul Foxton, who examines the limited warm-cool palette in great detail in his blog, Learning to See.
I’m looking forward to joining the ranks of competent painters. With just this small exposure, I begin to understand why so many lifetimes have been devoted to mastering this art.