Lessons I – Planning and Mistakes

I give drawing lessons at a senior center, but in reality the lessons are often for me. Take this painting.  I often emphasize planning as an essential in drawing.  Where are you going to start, where’s your center of interest, horizontally or vertical? Our lesson for the day was to draw big.  I’d brought newsprint to draw on, challenging my students to use their entire arm to help loosen their lines.  Their subject matter was small –  birds, challenging their minds to think differently.  As usual, I drew along with them.  Stopping to check their progress, help where necessary, encouraging and assessing their progress.  But, I was reallly liking my drawing, fascinated by it.  By the time I gave them their homework assignments, I could barely wait to get home to my studio.

A full sheet of watercolor paper (22″ x 30″) is normally not my size.  Too expensive to frame.  But the drawing was big – that was the beauty of it.  I quickly transferred the drawing and off I went with my favorite big brush.  This large “little” bird was a fall off the brush painting.  Effortless, luscious, fat and fluffy, I was transfixed.  He was singing to me.  Ah, I love being an artist.

Then I tackled the background and the lack of planning for this section quickly became evident.  I struggled, drug my brush, tried to cajole the paint, and finally gave up, lamenting the gorgeous chickadee on this God-awful background.  Relegated to the “reject” section of my makeshift gallery,  I decided to use it to demonstrate “lack of planning” in my next class,

Bringing it back into the studio, the freedom struck me.  I had three choices.  Trash it.  Paint it again, though the bird would never come out the same.  Turn it into something else.  So I pulled out my pastels (a medum I’m not very comfortable with) and just attacked the background. The painting already ruined, I couldn’t make it any worse. (Been here before – see my blog on my painting Dan’s Swan).  And now my little (actually rather large) Chickadee hangs over my fireplace.  Another lesson.


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