Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Teach and Learn

In the last few weeks I had requests to teach things that had me scratching my head and thinking 'how the .... do I do that!'

Near the end of November my friend, Linda, called and asked if I could teach her how to paint abstracts. Now Linda is a wonderful watercolour artist with a deft touch for landscapes and flowers in that medium and when I heard her request I was flabbergasted.  But undaunted, I said "sure I'll do what I can".
Tropical Forest

I really don't know what I am doing when I paint an abstract: I just play with my acrylic paints. Choose the colours, maybe add some mat medium, slap paint on a canvas, spray it with water, push the paint around with a palette knife and it is done! Sometimes I really like what I end up with; other times not so much.

unnamed acrylic abstract
So Linda watched while I started the Tropical Forest painting, then went to town on her own canvases. She kept grinning and saying 'This is fun!" She dropped paint, splashed paint, sprayed and twisted her canvas letting the paint drip and run. At one point she had a mess of dropped paint on the table and went to wipe it up when I stopped her. I grabbed a piece of mat board and turned it down on the paint, twisted and lifted it and ended up with the background for the unnamed painting above - waste not want not - lol.

Here are Linda's paintings - don't they look like she had fun doing them?

It is always great when Linda comes over for a day of painting but better when it makes me think and learn.

The second "how do I do that" was really my own fault. My Tuesday student, Jeannie, wanted to do a still life with fruit. We couldn't find a suitable photo online to use as a reference so I grabbed a few fruits out of the kitchen and put them on a simple plate. But just the plate and the fruit looked unfinished so I draped some fabric around them. Fabric! What was I thinking? Especially white fabric!

I showed the start of our paintings in my last blog and here are the finished pieces.
Jeanie's painting with mat

my painting
Jeannie wanted her painting finished in time for Christmas as she intends to give it as a gift. I demonstrated the technique for the shadows at the end of a class but, because we had a deadline Jeannie did the work at home. The stroke and blend method is not always easy to do, especially for a beginner, and Jeannie was not happy with her background when she arrived at class this week. I showed her how some careful lifting and scrubbing and the use of a bit of white paint could fix the fabric enough that she was satisfied. I was satisfied too - it is so nice to have such a hard working student.

I have always found that I learn something when I teach,especially when I have to figure out how to do something new.


  1. Awesome job to all of you! Looks like you are very good at making learning exciting! I had to learn something new this week as well. So fun isn't it Val!?

    1. Hi Sheila, thanks for the kudos. I hope you will be sharing what you learned this week in your blog. Have a great day!

  2. Isn't that always it, Val - teach and learn indeed. Those abstracts look WAY fun!

    1. Hi Win. Linda had a great time - maybe she will soon ask about mixed media - lol

  3. Looks like your students are really enjoying your class and they are really doing well! I like your description of how you do abstracts. They sound so unplanned but come out looking so nicely.

    1. Hi Joan. I often think it is more important for my students to enjoy themselves than to paint masterpieces. As for my abstracts, I have fun and many of them have sold so I must be doing something right - lol. thanks for stopping by.