Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Redwood City Boat Harbor

I started this plein air painting back on May 28th and finished most of it the following week. Boats are always a challenge, but I really got a kick out of the deck with the straw umbrella on top. I'm happy with the overall color harmonies (blue and orange), but there are definitely some design mistakes (the mast looks too centered on the umbrella) and the background doesn't recede enough. I think I did a good job making it look nicer than it really was, though. The boats were actually sitting in mud.

Teaching Mrs. Mitchell's 8th Grade Art Class

The end of the year got away from me, and here I am posting for the first time in over a month. I spent about 5 weeks teaching my son's 8th grade art class how to watercolor. What a fantastic class! 13 kids who really wanted to create art! The biggest challenge was the short classes (only 50minutes usually).

We started with some simple techniques: brush work and washes, then moved on to how to create form (spheres, cylinders, pears). They next worked on a simple landscape learning how to create depth through color temperature, intensity, and soft/hard edges. Finally, I wanted them to create their own work of art. We started by discussing composition and had them look at famous paintings to identify basic compositions: (Lshape, Tshape, vertical, horizontal, etc.) We also discussed the basic design elements of line, size, shape, color, value, and texture and how artists used them to move draw the eye through the painting.

In order for them to make their own creation, I brought in random objects and had them arrange them in some overlapping way and take photographs. Then, they did 5-8 small value sketches from the photograph, cropping and simplifying, and focusing on the interesting abstract shapes that the lights and darks made. Next, I had them choose 2-3 colors from my bag and do a value range for each color as well as a mixing chart of the colors. They drew a full scale drawing of their painting (1/4sheet size) in pencil and carbon transferred it to the watercolor paper. Finally they were ready to begin. As you can imagine, some kids worked at different paces than others and we were kind of rushed at the end, but I was really blown away at what the kids came up with. From both a design and technique standpoint, they did a great job! It was a lot of work, but I think they got a better appreciation for the process required to make a good painting.