Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Learning Curve

Today I had my first official class with Vianna Szabo, one of my painting heros. I had been stalking her on the internet, meaning that every week or so I’d hit her website (www.viannaszabo.com) and stare at her work. It was only a matter of time before our paths crossed, and I was fortuitous enough to have a friend in common with me when it happened. The rest, as they say, is history!!

After our class this morning, I came home and tried to commit to paper everything she said in the almost 3 hours we spent together. First thing learned – next time, take notes!! (or bring a recorder!!)

So many tips and treasures she shared seemed obvious, yet I hadn’t yet stumbled upon them. The most revolutionary thing being to set up my palette like a color wheel, placing all my paint down at once (today we used quinacridone crimson, hansa yellow medium, and ultramarine blue), with the white in the middle. Then, as I mixed, I was assured color harmony, and neutralizing colors became mindless – just reach directly across the circle for the compliment.

We worked on a still life made up entirely of white objects, dramatically lit with a warm bulb. It forced me to focus on the temperature of the warm light, and study how that light bounced off the objects and into the shadows. Despite the lack of strong local color in the setup, my finished painting is full of pinks, blues, and lavenders. I even squeezed some green and yellow (my two favs) into it.

I can see that I need to really study my subject more carefully though – I tend to want to race into lying the color down, and I don’t take the time to properly LOOK AT the objects I’m painting, to assure that the color I lay down is indeed correct. I was told squinting would help – not just to see the proper values, but also to determine the strength of the lines.

So more patience is called for, along with restraint and discipline. And some squinting.

But it’s not that bad. I am looking at things entirely differently now. Instead of before, when all I was seeing just the yellow of the sunlight on my daughter’s face, this afternoon I was drawn into the blues and purples of the shadows under her chin and across her cheekbones. I realized it was the subtlety of the color changes and the juxtaposition of the opposites (violet and yellow) that allowed that yellow sunlight to sing. I’m going to master those subtleties, no doubt about it.

It’ll take practice. And patience, restraint, and discipline. And squinting.

But I’ll get there.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings


Rena Wright said...

I always wanted to learn how to paint. I hope you enjoy the journey of learning.

Kimberly Kelly Santini said...

Me too!!


So, are you learning (not meaning from me, but from other sources!)???