by Janet Glatz
Sea Glass, 12x12 oil on canvas
One of the greatest things to experience as an art instructor is that moment when your student realizes they can do FAR better than they ever imagined. You can almost hear their inner voices saying, "I did that? I DID that! Yaaay!"
This is why I believe in teaching the basics first; brush handling, brush strokes, color and value, shading and shadow. Rarely do I come across a student who is bored with practicing these basic exercises, even if they've been painting for years. I think they know how valuable it is.
When I ask students what their art instruction consisted of in the past, most say they have had little in the way of "basic training." In fact, many, many art "workshops" consist of painting a still life or a landscape by following exactly what the instructor is doing. There is nothing wrong with this; however, to me, it's akin to putting the cart before the horse.
One of the first workshops I ever attended was lots of fun--we painted an overturned farm basket with MacIntosh apples spilling out of it. Very dark background, very red apples--you get the picture. There was no talk of hard and soft edges or highlights and light direction.
What did I learn from this? How to paint a basket of apples in a very flat, amateurish way.
Very often my students ask to learn how to paint ocean waves. I don't blame them; waves are so dynamic and beautiful! Here I will admit that though I have put in hours of practice on wave painting, I certainly don't consider myself expert at it. But I do have a formula that works pretty well in constructing waves and I love to teach it. Using this formula, students can go home and practice hard if they want to--who knows? They could become a virtuoso of wave painting!
My point is this: Have patience with your work. Don't think you can take two lessons and become a professional artist whose work collectors want to buy. Give yourself at least a year or two of dedicated practice as well as various modes of instruction and before you know it, you'll be hitting the art fairs with a body of your original work.
For more about and by Janet Glatz, visit www.janetglatz.com