In March/April 2002 I have participated in some arts classes given at Las Positas College. Since I haven't done any drawing or painting for more than ten years I thought this was a good way to get motivated again to do something in this field. I took the following three courses.
Below some images of my in-class exercises are shown. These were not meant to be real projects, which could not be finished within the time frame of the classes. These are rather quick-and-dirty exercises which illustrate the approach the different lecturers have taken to make us beginners produce something that looks like artwork.
Exercises 1: Pencil drawings with the objective to learn observational and contour drawing skills.
Exercises 2: Charcoal drawings with the objective to learn about color values and shading
A. - hand of a sculpture (model was on the table)
B. - flower pots (models were on the table)
Exercise 1: We were asked to subdivide the paper area with any combination of lines or curves. Then we were asked to fill the created areas with any combination of watercolor washes. This was very easy and fun, since it required no skill whatsoever.
Exercise 2 : We were asked to select a motive from among the many photographs the teacher brought and paint it. Voila my first watercolor "painting".
Exercise 3: We were asked to bring a photo or motive of our own choice for the second Saturday. Then we completed the pencil drawing first and then started painting using lots of washes if possible (very wet paper to make the paint flow). I chose a photo that I had taken in Ronda / (Andalucia) Spain in 1991. This painting is not finished yet ... I still have to make time to complete it.
Our teacher used a very refreshing approach. We all had to put our paper on a white board along the walls of the room and draw in standing without the use of any models or photos.
We were asked to draw any shape (I did a blue blue pentagon) then we were to draw another shape in a different color (I did a red polygon) and then the same a third time (I did a green oval). So far so good. Where was that supposed to lead? Well, the teacher then asked us to turn what we have into some kind of painting that makes sense. Looking at it the only thing I saw was a red snail with a pentagonal house on a green grass patch. So I added an eye and two antennae and I was done. I was quite surprised that one can create something by putting together arbitrary shapes without any intention behind it.
We were asked to draw something with an "outdoor feel" to it. I find it very hard to draw anything without looking at it (preferably a photo). Here is the only thing I could come up with in a hurry. I personally don't like it, but it made something obvious, namely the difficulty to blend colors when using pastel crayons.
For the remainder of the first Saturday's class we were to draw a vase with some flowers in it. This again is not so easy without a model. Here are the flowers I made up.
In our last class our teacher put some objects on the table so that we all could try to paint a still life. I only had the basic pastel box with 15 colors. For real projects one would need more colors, since blending colors is a problem with pastels.
These classes were a lot of fun. I think I will choose watercolor as medium for further projects. Working with water color is not as messy as pastels and charcoal. In addition water color paints can be much cheaper than pastels. My water color box was about 5 US$ and the 15 Color pastel box about 23 US$.
See also my old paintings ( Page 1, Page 2 ).