A Week In My Art Studio || 20–23 March 2019

This week started with the Wednesday evening life drawing session. These run fortnightly and if I could recommend one thing to improve your ability to draw, this would be it. Mind you, I can only fit 15 people and a model in my studio, so advance notice of attendance is a must.

Isn’t it easy to slip into doing the same thing over and over? These sessions are your chance to try different styles and discover new possibilities. Why not experiment with paint, pen, pencils or charcoal? If you are into portraiture, nothing should stop you from practicing just that!

I can see great progress with the students who come on a regular basis. Nick is an example, and produces absolutely amazing drawings that are full of energy.

Thursday class kicked off the week’s regular sessions with 8 students, each working on their personal project. Ron chose a difficult and unusual subject and an even more difficult medium – watercolour on a very large format. My personal recommendation is to stick to smaller sizes of paper for at least a year while you are learning to use watercolours. Leigh is getting better with mixing correct values and hues of colours – he just needs to trust himself. Barbara is becoming more and more confident to work independently and Ros is breaking her habits of blocking the areas in working with acrylics and starting to embrace the wet in wet techniques in oils.

Following the end to Thursday morning class, we kicked off in a smaller group to a 4 week Thursday afternoon course in painting landscapes with palette knife. In this first session, there was a strong focus on getting the students to use their palette knife in the correct way and we practised describing rocks and trees. It takes time to get it right but once you master the technique, what you could do would be no short of amazing! And the best thing for working with palette knife – no cleaning of brushes needed! Lets see what the next 3 weeks will bring – will my students come to love the palette knife or will they hate it?

Come Friday, several students were painting portraits of their family members and friends. That’s a lot of pressure, especially if you are still learning. Then again, there is nothing better than a challenge!

And there were some challenges – Chris lost her drawing as she applied several coats of paints, a very common thing to happen. One way to keep your proportions in check is to copy your drawing onto transparent paper and check at the beginning of each new session if everything is still in the right place. Melanie learned how to scale and grid properly, and to get her drawing right she had to start again. Better now than later I say. Dympna is working on a large landscape painting from her beautiful photo collection, applying the first layer of colours with minimal details. It is going to be another masterpiece.

I almost lead myself to believe that Saturday class would be nice and quiet but the studio slowly filled up and to the brink. As this is always a very social class, with long term friends painting together, some wine and food always materialise and we find ourselves ready to start.

Katia finished her palette knife beach painting and Sylvia is under pressure to use her imagination creating a semi abstract still life with flowers. We had a new student, Elaina, starting and I can only hope I didn’t scare her off with my precise instructions on how to get the drawing right, mix the colours AND do the background with palette knife to create a more interesting texture. In fact, I spent an extra hour after the class to finish her first class with her. I will know next week whether she enjoyed my teaching if she comes back or not.

Keep reading, keep painting and meet you here again with my next communique…

Jana Vodesil-Baruffi