Teaching is not an easy thing and not every teacher is the right one for every student. Let me tell you why Sharon is the right one for me.
She's teaching me:
- how to think. I've mentioned this before. Having never had the luxury of a teacher's 100% attention before, I was able to avoid the difficult task of thinking about what I was doing. Drawing came easily, I intuitively understood value or light and dark as well as everything in between, living in a family that joyously visited museums, gave me an intuitive sense of what made a good composition based on what I had seen, and I gloried in color. So I never thought about any of those things; I just used what I "knew" in my gut. But when something went wrong (and most of the time, I knew when it had), I usually couldn't
- tell what went wrong
- or if I knew "wrongness" had intruded, I didn't know how to fix it
- how to evaluate my work myself. Now I can critique (well, I'm getting better at it!) my work and hit on at least some of the things that need attention. I can explain what I wanted to do and whether I think I've achieved it or not. I can also talk about what I like and why.
- how to share my work without wincing and how to ask for and accept critiques from others without getting too defensive
- how to weigh the critiques against what I want the finished piece to be and decide whether to use suggestions after due consideration
There's more, of course, but that should help as I go through some of the above steps with my before and after today's class photos of Raking the Hay 2. First the before:
Rats. Turns out I didn't take a photo of yesterday's work after all. I was not a happy painter at that time so I guess I just turned my back on it. Oh well, this will do. While I like where the farmer is "going", I wasn't happy with the painting as a whole. All the colors are the same - same colors, same intensity, no drama or intensity. The distant hill doesn't seem far enough away as it shares the same colors and values as the trees in the farmer's field. Because the lake has hardly received any attention, it looks like a void. The painting could be cut in half and nothing would be lost. I like the pale suggestiveness of the farmer's field but it does need more punch and heat. Where's the sun? Why is the sky so limp? I had done more work as I said, but that had merely made matters worse.
So I took it in and plonked it on the easel. Sharon said okay, "What do you think?" and I told her. I included the fact that my attempts to fix it hadn't changed it for the better. She agreed with my assessments almost completely including the fact that cutting it in half wouldn't affect it much at all. So what did she suggest?
Lighten the farthest hills. They did not appear far enough away. My darks weren't dark enough so my lights didn't sing. Also, the colors in the distance were too warm (without thinking of the consequences, I had used red to darken my greens which made them too warm).
E mentioned that the lake could use some reflected color from the sky - hard to do if your sky has little to no color!
I painted the sky. I sponged off color from the back hills. I made the darks in the tree line darker and am working on defining that area a bit more. There's a lot more detail in and around the farmer; the field is nearing completion - still needs more heat.
And the lake. Ah yes, the lake hasn't changed - yet.