The Quiet Teacher

David Marty is a local to our area artist that teaches two-day classes in Edmonds at The Cole Gallery and sometimes once a week for six weeks on Bainbridge Island at The Winslow Art Center.  I have taken four classes from his so far with two in Edmonds and two on Bainbridge.  It is always interesting to see the level of the painters at the two different environments.  In Edmonds, there are usually a couple artists that are quite accomplished blended with more with little or no experience. I always learn at least one tidbit that helps to improve my own paintings.  Bainbridge classes are often comprised of many of the same artists that I have taken other classes with, and most all have been painting for several years.

Dave’s work is not quite as loose as some other Plein Artists, but it is always beautifully done. Coming from an illustrators background, his drawing is always “right-on'”. I have improved my drawing skills taking his classes and doing Urban Sketching with a group on Bainbridge Island.

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In David’s classes the entire class paints from the same photograph.  It is so interesting to watch throughout as the artists turn the photographs into beautiful paintings.  If you were to look at the finished pieces you realize just how differently people see. I love watching the artistic process as many of the pieces transform as they are painted.

In the classes on Bainbridge, we were always given a homework assignment to work on at home and bring for critique the following week. Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first piece we worked on in class.  David would do a demo in the morning, then we all painted the rest of the afternoon and put up our work for a critique at the end of the session.  This class was to work on water receding in the distance.  I walked away content with this piece.

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The second was a scene of a lake and the challenge was to show the lilies on the surface without making it look speckled.  The one above is mine.

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We next worked on the reflections and lighting in this lake scene.

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This was painted from a photo with a row of flowers.  I did not love the photo, so I reversed it in Photoshop and added a little girl picking the flowers in the front.  Once finished I thought and think it looks a bit trite.

Then we started painting a couple of roads, which I thought was great fun. Painting Class 5.jpg

I can always tell when I enjoy the topic we are painting, as I most likely will be happy with the result.

 

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How to make a wall of trees look interesting was a challenge and it was a homework assignment.  I did feel this was successful as it has variety and keeps your interest.   David never says anything negative about your work, but makes quiet thoughtful suggestions on what might improve it.

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Making rocks look like rocks is always a challenge and how to get the right color, so they look real but beautiful at the same time.  This was hard to capture, but I think it reads as rocks.

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Another road with the task of making the road appear beautiful and interesting while receding believably into the background.

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Painting the Night Scene of a city was fairly new to me.  I went with a little whimsy and fun and more abstract than real.  David liked how I did the lights in the background and thought he might change his to a little more like mine.  Boy, did that make me smile.

 

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We all painted “The Red Barn”.  Growing up on a farm, I have always been attracted to barns and have painted several over my life as an artist.  This is a small 8 x 10 inch with a bad glare in the photo, but it was fun doing.

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Homework assignment to paint clouds.  The tidbit I learned from this exercise is that clouds are always parallel to the earth at the bottom, so they are flat at the bottom.  Not my favorite painting, but it was a very simplistic photo.

 

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The homework assignment was to capture the clouds in a painting from a photo of the clouds.  Mine was a good as anyone else in the class, but nothing I would try to sell.

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Everyone in the class liked this, but I sanded it down and repainted the canvas.  The wave looked more like a ledge than waves to me.

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Beach walkers One.

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Beach walkers Two.  I did not like the first rendition, so I painted it a second time.  Not sure that I like either of them.

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From the sea, we moved to snow scenes.  I painted the one on the left in class, but it left me feeling unsuccessful, so I painted the one on the right.  It is a fun exercise to paint the same photo more than once and in slightly different styles.

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With the next homework assignment of snow, I painted the first horizontally and the same scene vertically.  Working on composition helps you see the same thing in a different manner.

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I brought in a photo I found online of Port Gamble, so we all had a take on this.  Port Gamble.jpg

In this case, I have the photo and thought it might be fun for you to see my translation of the photo.  I left out the tree in the foreground.  I do love the mist of the photo and feel at least I captured the essence of the mist.

 

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We were to paint this stream for homework.  Often when I look at a photo, I wonder what would be the best way to try to make this come to life.  When David showed his homework, it was mostly in browns, and I must admit that his rendition was more appealing than my greener version.

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One of the students brought in a photo of Madronas on her property, and while they are lovely, it was a test of sorts to make an interesting painting.

 

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Here is the photo. 2.jpg

First version

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Finished version adding more darks.  I often do not go dark enough, so this was a great lesson in contrast.

The next class I took from David was at Cole Gallery and the class was about learning to paint moving water and how to draw your eye to the water.

 

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I was pleased with the first painting but got my reflections off on the second.

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This was the final painting in that particular class.  I do see water and color in a different way than before, and everyone in the class liked this painting.  I am not so sure that painting just water is my favorite.

Every time I do take a class with Dave, I learn at least one thing.  I enjoy watching how he holds his paintbrush to achieve the look he desires.  Every stroke is thought out and it important.  There is not scrubbing!

The Quiet Teacher

Old in Art School

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When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it. This is the year I turn seventy. At sixty-two I completed my Ph. D. in Business Marketing, not in art, although I did finish my BA in Art in 1971 and my MA in Art (although with an emphasis in interior design) in 1985. I understand going back to school when a little older is all about attitude. I laughed at the beginning of the book, as the author described the other students, the attire, the classrooms and the fear of failure, but as I listened on to the audio-book I liked it less and less.  One of the reviews of the book described how I innately felt perfectly:

“I was excited to dive into this book, hopeful for little nuggets of wisdom for my similar journey and perhaps a laugh or two in self-reflection. Instead, the reader encounters a self-indulgent, needy author who repetitively presents an inventory of her resume ad nauseam. She used this book to disparage other students all while trying to impress the reader by spewing supercilious comments and including very little about the process or art school. This book had so much potential but was so disappointing.” 

It is interesting to think that no matter how successful you were in what you did before, no one in your art classes knows that or cares about that. I had a little of that this weekend when I took a tonal painting class of street scenes.  I love the work of the man that taught the class and I learned quite a bit in the class. Mostly I learned I don’t like doing a tonal painting.  I love painting with color! Color kept creeping into my paintings in the class and I kept getting in “trouble” for adding too much color.    Sometimes in life, it is just as important to know what we don’t like, as much as what we love.

When I sat down to write my blog, I thought I would look at the artwork of the author of the book before I wrote a lot about it. Viewing her artwork, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she wrote this book, not about her real art school experience, but to promote herself and her art. Her background is in writing and history, so she knows how to write about history, but in this book, she makes being older a roadblock, not an advantage. She has gotten quite a bit of attention over the book, and thus her art. What is totally missing in this book, are all the other wonderful artists that started their art life later in life. She is certainly not alone!

Maybe I should write about starting and stopping art in your life. You start as a child and my case went on to study it in college. Then you start a career, get married, have children (oops no time for art), and in my case was widowed at a young age and raised my sons on my own and don’t have much time for art till your children are grown and have lives of their own.

When she started talking about how you have to dress to be a successful artist, I started losing interest.  Moving forward to discuss the philosophical side of the history or artists (in her opinion) I began wondering if I wanted to bother to listen to the rest of the book.

The book made me think about my own tonal experience. You can enjoy viewing art that you do not enjoy attempting. You can be award-winning in other fields and not art, and still enjoy painting. I have had many art shows, but never entered a contest with my art.

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The class was a learning experience. We worked on these small the first afternoon after watching a demo in the morning. The one on the top right was the first one with the second below and the third in ochre tones.

We moved forward painting in a slightly larger format the second day after another morning demo. My green trees are too green for tonal painting, but as I said I like “color”.

Street scene from Terry Miura Class.jpg The last and/or third day we had options of what we could paint.  I chose to paint a facade of a building, as I used to do a lot of rendering in interior design school, and as an interior design college professor.  I am still working on the facade and realized when I stood back and looked at it, I had added a shadow to the awning, and now I had shadows coming from two directions.  I will try to make the correction and add it to the post. The building and the cafe next door need names too!

I heard once, and again in this class: “If the painting is not selling, add a dog.” I think this painting may need a dog-walker with several dogs. I think it is better to laugh at oneself, that try to be pompous about what you cannot do.

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As always, I walked away having learned something new, met new people that love art and enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with new and old friends.

I will continue to listen to the rest of the book and hope it gets better, but reading several reviews I don’t think that will be the case. It makes me want to write a funnier book on a similar topic. One of the other reviewers wrote: “More of a self-congratulate memoir of past achievements than a book of more recent achievements. Disappointing … could have been much more.” 

It could have been written in a much more positive manner and encourage those of us over twenty to try different things.

Old in Art School