Direct painting demo

26 January, 2016. This may have been the best 30 minute investment of time I’ve made all year. I had a lot of fun today, painting in front of my students and intentionally making a couple of very subtle errors as I did. As I painted I would ask the group to tell me if there was anything wrong with the chin or the nose or part of a shadow shape. It was great! Students would come up and point out some very detailed observation. Using their finger, they would trace a line in the air to show me how and where to correct the sketch. Honestly, this felt like a really teachable moment – perhaps  I need to do this type of thing more often because they were thinking and looking more deeply than I have seen them do in months. And how cool is it to get to critique the teacher?

I think the direct painting approach also blew a couple of people’s minds… “You mean you can start a painting without doing any drawing whatsoever?”

One student just purchased a small kit of oil paint over the weekend. He and I sat down beforehand to discuss what he wanted to accomplish. After sharing the Zorn Palette concept with him, he decided to go that route. (And after all, four tubes of paint are reassuringly more economical for a thrifty art student’s budget than eight or ten.) 

Our AP Studio Art class is comprised of design, photography, drawing/painting, and sculpture students, so it’s not often that I’m able to do a demonstration that is of interest or relevance to everyone. But today worked out well because we used the first few minutes to discuss form in the round, composition, along with the concept of chiaroscuro and lighting/modeling. Even my sculpture students hung around to watch as the paint was “sculpted,” the edges carved, and a likeness appeared. (Gamblin Oils on tinted hardboard.)
I’ve also been stressing the sketchbook the past couple of classes. Too few of my students are using the pages of their sketchbooks to resolve visual problems, to journal, to make notes or comment upon the world around them. I shared this recent scribble just to make the point that it’s ok to do exactly that now and again: to scribble. Getting hung up on the “preciousness” of a sketch is paralyzing at best.

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