Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Announcement
Registration Closing May 1 for Watercolor Sketching Cruise
September 14-21 2018



Art Teachers
I've been blessed with some really tough art teachers. Everyone has experienced them. They have their standards and you must reach them. I've never had a teacher whose expectation outreached my ability. But nonetheless, I've had my moments and I am here to say, I learned from every one of them (good or bad), making me the artist and teacher I am today.

Let's begin with one instructor that gave me absolutely no instruction at all. It was in a figure drawing class. As they did in the old classic days, the teacher puts a plaster figure in front of us at the head of the class (we were all in rows by the way) and tells us to take out our charcoal to begin drawing the subject. He didn't time us as is done in other classes--no 30-second drawings or two-minute drawings.  We were given an hour. That sounds good, although I've now learned that those short early starts in class are perfect for warming up.


A tall, gangly man of only 30 years or so, the instructor would return to class and begin to show me (and others of course) what I'd done wrong--using his own charcoal to show me where. Egads, I had worked on this project for an hour and BAM! this guy comes along and marks it up so much, I couldn't even see the original. Talk about frustration. After weeks of this with little to no instruction, I finally gave up and dropped the class.


I've been told that this was a teaching philosophy in the 60s and 70s. It left me so torn up that I decided to change my major to English. There are definite rules you can follow with words--although we can all spring off the board occasionally to make a point. Besides, although teachers expected me to do well in my writing, they continued to help me to stay within the parameters.

I guess what frustrated me most was that everyone gave glowing reviews to artists that simply put a big red dot on a canvas and called it art. But when I tried to express myself, it was wrong.

Now let me tell you about another teacher I had. She too didn't give any instruction like I do in my classes and workshops. She'd put a still life in front of us, and here's the difference, she'd stay in class to help us along, offering advice and encouragement on an individual basis. But of all my teachers, she was my toughest. She had high standards for me--well, at least I thought so, since she wouldn't let me slide.

For instance, I liked drawing with a grid back then. As many of you know I hand them out in all my classes. I use them to help students see things proportionally. I can either hold up the grid to see the subject before me or place it directly on my photo.  
It's easier to put all the pieces together when there's a grid involved. Besides, if I wish, I can focus in on one square at a time.

No, no, my art teacher didn't allow grids. In fact, if she caught me making little tick marks on my paper, she'd make me erase them. She also taught me to look for structure when creating an abstract. I didn't understand what she meant until I tried to just throw stuff on the canvas without some sort of order or composition. It surely became a mess.

For instance, let’s consider Pablo Picasso's (1881-1973) Guernica (1937). Before learning about structure, I always disliked this work. It made no sense. Now, of course, learning the backstory was helpful. (Hitler was using Spanish countryside to practice air bombings, be damn the citizens.) Nonetheless, you can see the anguish and devastation in the work, and it really does all come together. To this day, I appreciate her lessons. While she didn't lecture, she taught all of us very well through personalized example.


So after saying all this, how should you judge what teacher is right for you? Here are some ideas.
  1. Be flexible. Give the teacher a chance to prove herself or himself. In time, you will know without a doubt if you are learning something or not.
  2. Be leery of a teacher who doesn’t help you or give you specific instruction. For example, I found a lot of teachers don’t cover perspective because it’s hard. Not every teacher has to teach it, but every one of them should have a good general knowledge of how it's done.
  3. Ask around. That seems a bit hard if you’re not in an art community, but you’d be surprised how many of your friends have dabbled in art. They usually know who is good and who is not.
  4. If you can, before buying all your supplies, contact the teacher. Ask questions regarding teaching style and why some things are done and some things are not. Be honest if you're a beginner. This will help both of you
 And most importantly, believe in yourself. I didn’t understand or comprehend color when I returned to fine arts. Sure, I knew how to put stuff together for a pleasing advertisement or brochure, but when it came to painting, that was another story. I was at a loss. It frustrated me and also my teacher at the time. So much so, she wondered out loud if I had a color deficiency.

No I didn’t. I just needed better instruction on color theory, which I eventually sought. Anyone who has taken my color course of late would never worry if I were suffering from color ineptitude because I can create hundreds of colors from the three primaries* (plus black and white). The moral here is if it doesn’t sound right, then it probably isn’t. Go with your instinct. Learning color takes a long, long time—just like everything else!

Hopefully, you are all taking classes or workshops from fabulous instructors. However, if you're feeling frustrated, maybe it's time to share your frustration with your teacher or to look around for someone new. But be warned though, the teacher that demand the most out of you are probably the best.

*Magenta, cyan and lemon yellow
 


What's coming up?

Classes and Workshops

Glastonbury Studios Classes
Five-Week Session 
Begins Week of April 22 - Ends Week of May 20
Seats available in most classes

Pencil to BrushDrawing and painting
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80
Prerequisite: Studio Acrylic Workshop*

The Morning DrawEvery Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 Full

The Drawing Studio 
(Watercolor Sketching)
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$80
To register email: jjgoodell@gmail.com

*Must have taken previous Acrylics Workshop/Class conducted by Jill Goodell

*******************************
2018 Studio Workshops
All studio workshops are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Includes most supplies and lunch. Class size is limited to ten students. Pre-registration is required. Only payment reserves your seat. Cost is $85. For detailed information on each workshop, go to workshop offerings.

Saturday, May 5
Flowers in watercolor/pen and ink

Saturday, July 14
Keeping a nature journal

Friday, September 7
Watercolor painting with Brusho®

Saturday, November 10
Beginning acrylic painting

Registration closing May 1
Watercolor Sketching Cruise
September 14-21 2018
Autumn in Watercolors
(watercolors, pen and ink)
For more information go to this link.

Monday, February 26, 2018

March Newsletter: Interpretation vs. Imitation

What you see is what you get. Not necessarily.

One of the hardest art concepts I teach is interpretation instead of imitation. All of us want to draw or paint something recognizable. It would be awful if you drew a seagull and someone thought it was a rooster. Having said that though, you don’t have to be a slave to your subject (be it still life, plein air or a photograph).

In the beginning, most of us experience drawing something and stumping the viewer. Mine was when I drew a spool of thread. My dear husband and my then middle-school son were so sweet. They really didn’t know what I had drawn, but they struggled to be kind. Of course, I was crushed, even irritated. “Can’t they see it’s a spool of thread?” I was that bad. Fortunately, I was in the early stage of my art career, so I just crawled onward. (I had the good fortune to have a husband and son who encouraged me through thick and thin.) I obviously had a lot to learn.

A few years later I took a painting class where everyone traced from a photograph. The finished products were astounding. I couldn’t believe what I saw—a complete replica of the photo, down to the smallest of objects. With my natural tendency to feel frustrated back then, I thought, "I’ll never paint or draw like that." At the same time, I also didn’t want to be limited to a photograph to create my art.  Aargh.

I don’t know when or how it happened, but one day I had an epiphany. I don’t have to be exact, perfect in my drawing or painting. I can interrupt what I am seeing instead of creating a photographic resemblance. Wow. What freedom, what a breakthrough. From that point forward I tried to express myself. Now I understood the Impressionists, the Expressionists. I even started to look with a new eye at Picasso’s crazy work (at the time I did think it was crazy). 

When I painted a pear or a flower, it was MY flower. Don’t get me wrong. I still have the structural parameters of making sure the object looked like a pear or a flower, but I wasn’t restricted to making an exact copy. I could use my camera for that.

As an example, let’s consider Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). Like me, he was a very slow painter. So much so, his fruit would often rot before he finished his painting. Some say he was the father of modern art because he broke the rules.  

Cézanne was born and worked mostly in Aix-en-Provence, France. He was friends with the Impressionists but didn’t really like their messiness—just way too loose and chaotic for him. Stil, he didn’t want to be a perfect draughtsman (technical illustrator) either, which was required in days gone by.



His basic philosophy was that there are three shapes: the cone, the cube and the sphere. I actually adopted this idea to create my own method of three lines, three shapes. He also broke the rules of perspective—a fun thing to do when you’re expressing what you see in front of you.  I have read that he would look at a still life, walk around it and paint from different points of view. That’s why his fruit paintings look a bit different than others. By the way, Cézanne did agree with bright, vivid colors, but outlined a lot of his work. 

If you look at a picture of Mount Victoria and compare it to his paintings, you see that he was interpreting what he saw, not imitate it.


From fr.wikipedia en: Image: Ste Victory Cross.jpg 
Photo taken in: Aix-en-Provence , Bouches-du-Rhône 
© Jérôme ALEXANDRE
Not from the exact location. But notice the colors, the form.

I personally love Cezanne’s people, especially the Card Players (1894-95). What a cool interpretation. 




There are many other artists I could cover who influenced me in my journey to create the way I want. What is more important is that now, I paint for myself.  We should all be painting the way we feel most comfortable. The way to get us into the "zone." So if that means we feel most comfortable tracing a photo and then coloring it in, then that’s okay. If we want to go our own way and try our hand at drawing the subject, while interrupting what we’re seeing, that’s fine too. Moreover, if we feel more abstract and want to push the envelope to create our art, that is perfectly acceptable in my book.

Now having said all this, I have to admit that drawing realistically haunted me for years. So I had to try to draw exactly what I saw (no tracing). But I have to admit, even though, I got really close, I never mastered the exactness you can achieve with tracing. I still interpreted. Perhaps it was one line off, one angle different, a shadow not quite exact. The difference today than in years past, is that I don’t care. I draw and paint for me, no one else. That’s the way it should be.


What's coming up?

Classes and Workshops
Glastonbury Studios Classes
Four-Week Session 
Begins Week of March 5 - Ends Week of March 26
Seats available in most classes

Pencil to BrushDrawing and painting
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm$65 per four-week termPrerequisite: Studio Acrylic Workshop*

The Morning DrawEvery Wednesday morning10 am to 12:30 pm$65 per four-week term

Watercolor JournalingEvery Wednesday afternoon1:00 pm to 3:30 pm
$65 per four-week term

The Drawing Studio
(Watercolor Sketching)
Every Thursday evening


6:30 pm to 9:00 pm$65 per four-week term
To register email: jjgoodell@gmail.com

*Must have taken previous Acrylics Workshop/Class conducted by Jill Goodell

*******************************
2018 Studio Workshops
All studio workshops are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Includes most supplies and lunch. Class size is limited to ten students. Pre-registration is required. Only payment reserves your seat. Cost is $85. For detailed information on each workshop, go to workshop offerings.

Saturday, March 24 (seats available)
Drawing Cats

Saturday, May 5
Flowers in watercolor/pen and ink

Saturday, July 14
Keeping a nature journal

Friday, September 7
Watercolor painting with Brusho®


Saturday, November 10
Beginning acrylic painting


Only two spots left
Watercolor Sketching Cruise

September 14-21 2018
Autumn in Watercolors
(watercolors, pen and ink)

Page from my journal, Boston

Mural in Old Town Quebec

New England and CanadaSeven Days only $839*


*For cruise: PP, DO; rates subject to change

Monday, January 29, 2018

Warm Ups for Drawing!

If you google warming-up online, you'll find all sorts of lists to encourage you to do so, but it's all for exercise. I don't find the same for art. Perhaps that's because we seldom do any kind of warm-ups before we draw. The closest I've ever heard of is creating a thumbnail of the subject before you start your work. But I'd like to submit that doing simple warm-ups before you start will help you get loose and help you flex your tactile skills.

Let me suggest the following six warm-ups, along with some drawing examples of how these exercises can help--some can be used interchangeably. By the way, I am placing all my lessons and drawings in journals now. So here's a peak from my warming up page.

Circles and Spiral Lines




For Wassily Kandinsky the circle was supreme: "the circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the eccentric in a single form, and in balance."

Circles in a Circle,  Kandinsky1923

Ovals





Part of Pablo Picasso's (1881-1973) War and Peace series, this preparatory drawing was one of many in the 1950s. Notice his use of the oval and other shapes. 
Head of a Woman

Straight Lines




I love to pour over the drawings of both Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1660) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Their lines are so crisp and precise but at the same time freeing.  


Bearded Man Looking Down, Rembrandt
Edmond Duranty, 1879  Degas

Curved Lines





Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) used the curved line a lot! Look at most of his paintings and you will see a perfect example of curve line use.
Starry Night, 1889, Van Gogh
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) used the curved line exquisitely. Notice how he uses the curved line for the braids along with delicate lines for the wispy hair.

Study for the head of Leda 1503-7, da Vinici

Angled lines



Again, another example of angle lines and others that Rembrandt's uses in this drawing. It's one of my favorites.


The Card Player, 1641, Rembrandt


Anything you want!


  Like this!





What's coming up?

Only two spots left
Watercolor Sketching Cruise
September 14-21 2018
Autumn in Watercolors (watercolors, pen and ink)
New England and Canada
Seven Days only $839*

For more information
*For cruise: PP, DO; rates subject to change
__________________________________________________________

Classes and Workshops
Glastonbury Studios Classes
Four-Week Session
Begins Week of February 4 - Ends Week of February 25

Pencil to Brush
Drawing and painting
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$66 per four-week term
Prerequisite: Studio Acrylic Workshop*

The Morning Draw
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$65 per four-week term

New! Watercolor Sketching
Every Wednesday afternoon
1:00 pm to 3;30 pm
$65 per four-week term

The Drawing Studio
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$65 per four-week term

To register email: jjgoodell@gmail.com
*Must have taken previous Acrylics Workshop/Class conducted by Jill Goodell

*******************************
Workshops
All studio workshops are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Includes most supplies and lunch. The cost is $98. Class size is limited to ten students. Pre-registration is required. Only payment reserves your seat. For full description of all workshops click on graphic to the right or go to 2018 Workshop Catalog (Revision 1)

Saturday, February 17
Visual Journaling

Saturday, March 10
Watercolor Travel Sketching

Saturday, March 24
Drawing Cats

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Fear of Drawing

What’s good about bad art?
I just ordered new business cards. On them, there’s a spot for a company slogan. I have no real slogan, except maybe learning art the easy way. I wanted something more meaningful. So I decided to use a thought I developed years ago: Don’t be afraid to create bad art; be more afraid of making none at all.

I think the biggest inhibitor to creative development is fear. With our handy-dandy nasty critic sitting on his throne in the back of our minds, we are afraid to express ourselves because it will look like rubbish. I’ve had students tell me that their three-year-olds draw better than they. Now that’s what I call real rubbish. The secret between the two is the child doesn’t have any inhibitions, whereas the adult is riddled with doubt and fear.

Notice below that children’s artwork is basically the same. The house is a box with a triangle on top, maybe a rectangle for the chimney. There are rectangles for windows and a pathway of some sort headed for the rectangular front door. The people are made of lines and circular objects. Coloring is either in or out of the lines. It really doesn’t matter.
     
As children develop their fine motor skills and are more aware of their world, their artworks improve accordingly. In fact, children love to draw and play with their crayons. I don’t remember ever knowing a young grammar school kid who didn’t like to paint or draw. It was fun, even if one were just scribbling.

How did I get this way?
Then around 10 or 11, things change. Our worlds become more concrete. We are aware of our selves more and compare our work to others. As I’ve often said in class, we all experienced that little girl who drew the best ever horses (or at least we thought) and that boy who could construct an awesome skyscraper with just the tip of a pencil. Then we look at our work and say, “It’s all crap. Why bother?” Most of us never look back, thinking all along that we can’t draw, not even a decent stick figure.


Over the years, I have witnessed so many brave people walk into my basic drawing class with fear or should I say, uncertainty in their eyes. It has always astounded me because it tells me that these students really want to learn, have a desire that probably stems back from childhood, and they are courageous enough to take the first step. They are in class to see if they can really do what they thought they couldn’t. That is, draw!

It’s a skill
I cannot repeat this enough that drawing is a skill, not just a talent. Let me repeat this again, drawing is a skill just like playing the piano, swimming in a lake and even writing by hand. 

All of these tasks take practice and usually someone to guide you in order for you to learn the skill. If someone were to ask me to play the cello, I’d have no idea where to start. Of course, I could pick at a few strings and get some type of noise, but that’s not playing.
The same holds true for drawing. Once you’ve learned the basic skills necessary, either through an instructor like me, a YouTube workshop or DVD, it’s all up to you to get better through practice.

So I hear you ask, “But what about those prodigies.” Interestingly these brilliant children have something in common. Once they’ve identified their passion and have parents to support them, the “talent” comes through. As in the article, What Makes a Prodigy?, written by David Z. Hambrick in Scientific American, these exceptional children may have a genic ability or just a result of massive interest in the subject:
“Often one cannot tear these children away from activities in their area of giftedness, whether they involve an instrument, a computer, a sketch pad, or a math book. These children have a powerful interest in the domain in which they have high ability, and they can focus so intently on work in this domain that they lose sense of the outside world. 
“…Results of a recent study of more than 10,000 twins by Miriam Mosing, Fredrik Ullén, and their colleagues at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute revealed that a common set of genes influence both music aptitude and the propensity to practice—an example of a phenomenon known as genetic pleiotropy, which occurs when one gene (or set of genes) influences multiple traits.”
The child prodigy is not your issue
Here’s my answer to the child prodigy issue. Yes, there may be people who seem to be born with an extraordinary ability to perform certain tasks, but I also agree with hypothesis made above. If we read about these wonder children, we find that there’s usually a parent in the background encouraging the child AND a child who is obsessed working on the subject. They really show what happens when you practice.

Believe me, most of the greats did not come out of the birth canal with pencil in hand, creatubg great masterpieces. Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci were all taught under masters and then became masters themselves.


I like the idea behind the saying that FEAR is:
  • F false
  • E evidence
  • A appearing
  • R real
We simply misinform ourselves. So it truly is better to fail and pick yourself up again and again until you reach your goal. I’ve done it by drawing every night. You can do the same!



So What's Coming Up!

Workshop: First for the year 2018
Saturday, January 13
Drawing the Still Life for Beginners  One-Day Workshop
The skeleton for all art begins with drawing. In this one-day course, I will take you step-by-step in learning the fundamentals of drawing and still life. We will cover: line, shape, form/values, texture, perspective and measurement. Bring a sketchbook*; all other supplies are provided, including lunch. $98

Saturday, February 3
Drawing Birds One-Day Workshop
Here’s an introductory course to sketching birds from skeleton to feather. We’ll cover many different birds, using pencil, ink and watercolor wash. Bring a sketchbook* with you to class. All other supplies, including lunch, provided. $98

Saturday, February 17
Visual Journaling One-day Workshop
Journaling is a great way to relieve stress and express yourself. Discover your inner self through words, painting, drawing as well as other art materials and found pieces. Bring a heavy-duty sketchbook, like Strathmore® Visual Journal.  All other materials supplied, including lunch.

Workshop: Boston to Quebec September 14-21
Come join us in September on a watercolor sketching cruise of New England and Canada. We will explore the sights and sounds of the big city of Boston, the quaintness of Portland, Maine, our city's namesake, as well as enjoy a fabulous journey through several Canadian towns and villages along the St. Lawrence, ending in historic Quebec City. For more information go to this link. Please note, this cruise ship fills up fast and prices keep going up. So I'd suggest making deposits as soon as you can (but no pressure!)

Studio Classes begin the first week of January

Pencil to Brush
Impressionists/Post-Impressionists
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks 
(pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project.
Every Tuesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 per five-week term
Prerequisite: Studio Acrylic Workshop*

The Morning Draw
Wild Animals II
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$80 per five-week term

New! Watercolor Sketching
How to keep a journal using words and 
watercolor sketching.
Every Wednesday afternoon
1 pm to 3 pm
$80 per-week term

The Drawing Studio
Multimedia, variety of subjects
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$80 per five-week term

Go to website for a descriptive listing of classes.
To register email: jjgoodell@gmail.com


*Acrylics workshop conducted by JJ Goodell either at PCC or Glastonbury Studios