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.

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