Saturday, May 16, 2015

More Information for Beginning Artists

Yesterday was the last of four consecutive Fridays that I spent teaching art to 6-8th graders at a local school. I think I may have overwhelmed some of them with information that was too advanced, but I also think some of them came away with new knowledge that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

This time we painted. I wish I could have taken and posted photos of some of their work. At their age, that would have been inappropriate. I gave them full artistic license to do whatever they wanted with the image that I projected of a back-road scene that I took a photo of last summer. Every one of their paintings was different! My guess is that, at their age, they may still be working in "coloring book" methods that provide a similar outcome to each of their works. This is a great way of learning, but I wanted them to know that they are individuals, with individual senses of color, design, etc.

I showed them how to find shapes in an image -- to simplify the beginning painting process. (See photo) We worked with only red, yellow, blue, and white. They did a great job of color mixing!

At the end of the class, I handed out a supply list that they can take home to their parents for future reference. There are basic supplies that every beginning artist should have. I also gave them names of places that they might find some of these materials, both physically and online. Being beginners, we worked in acrylic on canvas panels. I didn't provide them with brushes, and we had to use the small, basic brushes that were available at school. Brushes are extremely important!

I also provided them with some notes:
Use the best materials you can afford. Inexpensive materials are great for practice and learning, but nothing compares to high quality materials.
Some artist supplies are toxic. Be sure to read labels and study the materials before using. Many paints have cadmium, cobalt, lead, and other heavy metals that can be dangerous. Wear vinyl or plastic gloves when using paints and mediums made with toxic materials.
Always paint in a well-ventilated area.
CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES WELL after using them. They will last longer and work better.
Allow time for paint to dry. Put your finished painting in a safe place. There is nothing more heartbreaking than working hard on a painting and ruining it because you accidentally scratched or bumped it.

Where to find inspiration:

Read Art books (the Library has a good variety) – I like to look at books that show photos of great art, but I also read many How-To books – books that teach you various skills.

Study art and artists that inspire you. These internet searches might be good starting points:
            Impressionist Art
            Modern Art
            Figurative Art
            The Hudson River School
            Plein Air
            Perspective Drawing
            Great Masters in Art
            The Tonalists

Nature can be one of the best inspirations!

Take a walk, look at clouds, rivers, trees, boats, cars, and roads.

Be a people-watcher. Look for the differences in every human being.

Go to museums, art fairs, and exhibits.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York now has its work archived on the internet:

Practice How to See:

Find the “shapes” in different objects by looking for different colors and shadows (values).

Practice seeing where the light is coming from and how it affects what you are looking at.

Do “mental” comparisons of how objects relate to each other in size.

Constantly sketch! By regularly doing small drawings, your skill will improve.

REMEMBER TO PRAY! Thank God for the gifts He has given you.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Now Showing at Fine Line Designs

It's an honor to be able to say that my art is now available in one of the premier galleries in Door County, Wisconsin. I've been visiting Fine Line Designs Gallery (, north of Ephraim, for several years, and finally got the courage to submit my portfolio for consideration. Here are a few of my paintings that are now available there:

"Fireflies" by Kathleen Eaton
on the far wall of this pretty vignette

Three more paintings in the stairwell leading upstairs.

I have a total of eleven paintings at Fine Line Designs, so please ask to see more if you don't see them all! Thank you for your support!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Helping Students Learn to Love Art

I'm teaching art to 6-8th graders for four Fridays in a row. Not being a teacher, I had forgotten how students can be on a beautiful Friday afternoon when it's the last class of the day. When it came time for the second class, I told them that I'm not a teacher, and I'm volunteering my time because I have a passion for art that I would love to pass on to them. I think that woke some of them up. What?! She's not being paid?! She actually WANTS to be here?!

Not knowing how much art background they have, I started slowly by covering relational, or site-size, drawing in the first class. In the second class we learned how to draw in perspective. (No easy task in a 35 minute class.) I was happy to hear that some of the students actually had been practicing what they learned during the week.

Today, the third class, we took on color mixing. Yikes! I forgot how challenging this can be for even a seasoned artist. I had prepared a "color chart" that they could fill in using tempera or acrylic paint. I'm attaching it below for anyone who would like to use it. If you have a hard time downloading it, please contact me and I'll email it to you.

If you're not familiar with color charts, it's a method of learning what happens when different colors are mixed together in varying amounts. It's amazing what can be achieved using only a few colors. This chart was set up based on the Zorn Pallette. I used red, yellow, and blue since the students I'm with are beginning beginners. Anders Zorn used Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, and Ivory Black with white. These were the main colors he used in his work.

I was happily surprised when one young man sat upright and said "I see what I'm doing wrong! Can I start over?" It was like that "Ah-Ha" moment that artists sometimes get. If I can help even one student feel the passion that I have for art, my time will have been worth it! Next week is the final week. We're going to attempt to paint an actual painting on canvas. Wish us luck!