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Monday, May 18, 2015

Peonies: Painting Class

There is something to be said for creating something colorful, soothing and beautiful where only hours before there was a blank canvas and some tubes of paint. Painting from life teaches me so much more than a photo ever can. I love the entire process, from choosing the flowers at the market to setting them up in my studio with just the right light. When I am painting, I am lost in moments of color, texture and movement.

This fresh new painting project was in preparation for my beginners painting class at Woodmen Valley. I realized that painting peonies might seem like a daunting task for the beginner painter, but what a fun way to jump into painting; color, simple shapes and value brushed onto canvas in just three short hours. Our goal was not to create a masterpiece for each student but to learn the power of paint, touch on the academics of composition and to have fun applying paint to canvas. I think we can all learn something about ourselves if we dare to step out of our comfort zones and try something new.
Peonies
20 x 16", Acrylic on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Stage 1: Setting up the still life composition. It was a rather dark, rainy day but I was determined to paint from the natural southern light coming from my studio window. I arranged the three flowers following some simple composition guidelines that I could later explain to my painting class.

Stage 2: Painting in the lines of my composition. Using a thinned mixture of alizarin crimson and white, I broke the painting down into thirds.
Stage 3: Painting the flowers. Thinking in terms of thirds, even in the values of the flowers, I painted them with a light, medium and dark pink. With a single natural light source from the window, seeing the three values was much easier.
Stage 4: Completing the painting. Once the flowers were done, I focused on the leaves, the foreground and background all at once. With acrylic, working wet on wet, I had to work fast so that my background and foreground edges worked in well with the flowers, the leaves and stems before the paint dried.  Each leaf was 3 to 4 strokes. I put the main color of green down and then added the lights and darks of reds and yellows.  I had fun adding the colors from the flowers and integrating them into the background and foreground.

With the painting complete, I was ready to teach the class.
First, I started the class with 8 x 10" canvas boards to create a color study. This starts the thinking process regarding color and composition. It also helps get the jitters out.

After spending a half hour or so on the color studies, we pulled out the 20 x 16" canvases and got to work creating the actual painting.

 By the end of the second hour, colorful, fun peonies filled the class!
 I walked around the class and started taking photos of all the great paintings that were being created right before my eyes. Enjoy scrolling down and seeing the variety of beautiful results.








Standing back and looking at all the multiple paintings of the peonies took my breath away. Each art student's style and personality emerged. We are all unique, like our paintings.












Here are some favorite quotes I jotted down while I was at the Art of the Portrait conference in Atlanta, Georgia a couple of weeks ago.

"I like to paint order out of chaos...It doesn't matter how large or how small (your painting is) its gotta be beautiful and intentional." Quang Ho

"I look for passion, imagination and the means to communicate...Use all of your experiences, emotions, your life situation and put that in your paintings." Everette Raymond Kinstler