Connections

Connections

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sidetracked by Van Gogh in the middle of abstracts

Ok I know I am doing abstracts right now but I went to a used book store recently and found a book I needed and discovered a huge selection of art books for a very reasonable price. The book was on Impressionism. There were several plates of Van Gogh's work and I thought hmmmm wouldn't it be fun to copy one of these. I was really struck by his self portrait. I wondered if I could manage the little strokes on such a small surface. I wondered if it would make a difference if I painted with acrylic paint and not oil.

When I was in my last year of high school my mother found out about a man that taught oil painting to adults. The wife of a one of my dad's coworker's went to his sessions every Saturday. They were all day long. I had to go and be interviewed by the teacher to get into the class. He agreed I had the right reasons and skills to be in the class even at seventeen. I would get a ride to my dad's coworker's house and I would drive an hour with her to the class. I had to bring my lunch and I would be in the class all day. I was the youngest in the class. Everyone was working at various levels of painting and all of them were copying works of the masters. No one was painting an original painting. I didn't expect that and I for some reason found this shocking, it went against my grain and I was seventeen. I knew and had already formed opinions about what I thought good art was. I did know that the purpose was to learn how to mix color in oil so as not to muddy the canvas. The teacher felt that copying was a way to learn. I felt that I was committing a mortal sin by copying. I was a small, opinionated lonely fish in a big sea of happy women and men happily copying famous paintings in oil. I was grateful for the lunch breaks and the afternoons seemed to stretch out for what seemed twice the hours they were and I was always glad to leave. When I would paint I always felt like I had to wait for the teacher to come around to tell me what to do. He would work on my painting to show me how to mix and how to add highlights. I was copying still life's. Eventually I got the hang of it. I already knew how to shade and add highlights. Oils were always challenging because you were always painting with wet paint on top of wet paint. I stayed with the classes long enough to finish about one or two paintings. The ones that I have from that class are fabulous paintings. Sadly, I quit because I just didn't see the merit in it. I have no idea why I felt this way. I often find myself wishing I could go back to those classes. Thank goodness experience has a way of changing our minds. I have to say I was excited by the idea of copying Van Gogh's self portrait. As I added the strokes in swirls of color I couldn't help but think about what he may have been experiencing. I wanted to know what he was thinking to have him create these beautiful blue green swirls of light around his portrait. I imagined him dressing and sitting in front of a mirror to paint. I enjoyed thoroughly the whole painting. I enjoyed the challenge of recreating the strokes. I enjoyed mixing my own colors to match his colors. My version has a little more contrast. His had lighter colors to create the outlines of his face. Overall I am very very pleased with  this painting. It's really very small which makes me love it even more. I'm glad I loved doing it. I learned a LOT. I worked on this two day's. I'm going to keep this one. I am going to go back to the abstracts every day. I don't seem to be able to do once in a few days. I am all in or sidetracked by life .. makes me laugh.

Hope you enjoyed the painting though either way. Thanks for stopping over and have a fabulously joyfilled day. Ciao.

6 comments:

  1. wow, what a way to learn! he looks great, green that he's been redone ;)

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    1. THanks Arlee, his portrait was green.. maybe it looks more green. Either way it was fun!!!

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  2. Fabulous! As usual it shows your versatility and it's fascinating to hear about your past and your process.

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    1. Thanks Judy.. always trying to improve.

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  3. This is wonderful, Tammy! I remember taking an oil painting class at an artist's home when I was a young teen. Both my mother and sister did as well. We worked on landscapes from our own minds for the most part. I think landscapes would be far easier than portraiture to create, especially in oils. I did enjoy working with the oils but I did not like the cleanup and the smell of the turpentine. I developed a huge appreciation for those who work in oils because, as you say, the paints stay wet as you use them so it's tricky.

    I am happy with my acrylics and watercolours. I don't have the patience for oils and think it would smell up our house too much and my kids would complain. I probably would too!

    It's amazing what you have accomplished working in the acrylics - this is amazing!!! I love your story and how truthful you are about how you didn't see why anyone would copy work - and waiting for the teacher to come over to tell you what to do. I have learned to have patience but as a young girl I had very little and this would have driven my crazy!! haha! Amazing how time changes things and the experiences we have when we are younger grow with us, stay with us, and we learn from them still. xx

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    1. I like the idea of painting landscapes from your minds. Yes I took another oil painting class when I was about 12 and I even painted a lot at home. One morning after painting a long evening, I woke up with swollen eyes and stuffed up head. I never painted oils again until this class I mentioned here. I think you can have similar results with acrylic. There are so many purists though. And I didn't sign up to go back. I never really enjoyed the class I only enjoyed mixing the colors. That part I could enjoy more today. Thanks for stopping over ..

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