I recently was given the opportunity to teach at the Joslyn Art Museum here in Omaha. It sounded very exciting when they told me that the class was to be held at the same time as the Diego Rivera exhibit and they were hoping to use that as the back drop or theme to the class.
"Great idea!" I said,
"We assumed you can teach pastels." they said.
"Pastels???? No problem" I said .... I dusted off my pastel sets as soon as I hung up the phone.
So, for the past 5 Sundays I have been giving a class covering landscape, still life, and figure painting using pastels.
We actually had a great time. The Diego Rivera tie-in was really pretty thin but we did get to see some wonderful work.
And one benefit, we had a wonderful model sit for us. A very distinguished gentleman in a traditional Mexican outfit.
Here's the main theme of what I taught. How to bring out what attracts you to a subject. We worked in 3 stages. thumbnail sketches, value studies and final approach.
On the last day I joined in the fun and worked along with the others. I wanted them to use the sketch not so much as a drawing exercise but as an exercise in expression. The goal was to translate onto paper what you like about your subject and to understand what attracts your attention. The sketch helps you get familiar with the subject. Don't just copy what you see...translate what you are going after, explain it. Say it out loud in words...I really like the shape of the hat... or I love how deep and warm the shadow is across his face. Then try to paint what you just said. That expression helps keep you focused.
Here' s my first 20 minute sketch. I loved the dignified pose he achieved even though he was sitting on a chair made for a child's art class.
Here's my second attempt at him. Another 20-25 minute sketch. He had a very Rembrandt-ish look to him and great expression in those eyes.
The class was a lot of fun. I hope they let me do it again sometime...only next time using oils.