a little discipline


Lobster Boy, by Dana Ellyn

Tonight I attended my second acrylic painting class with Dana Ellyn in her live/work studio space at Mather Studios in Penn Quarter. I am quite excited about taking the class simply because it is the perfect balance of creativity, social, learning and flexibility for me. I found her flyer two weeks ago when I stopped in the library near the end of my morning walk. I called her and attended my first class that night. Talk about instant gratification. I loved that. Plus she has a schedule of regular times she offers classes posted on her web site. So if something comes up one week, as it did for me, you can pick from another session or attend the following week.


The Boating Party, by Mary Cassatt

Tonight, I returned excited to see Dana’s paintings on display in the lobby. The one above is my favorite. Her work is comprised primarily of figures, which was appealing to me. I have no idea how to paint anything other than images that are completely abstract. For my first exercise, she suggested that I select one of my favorite paintings. Mary Cassatt’s The Boating Party popped into my mind. I often visit this painting at the National Gallery of Art. I love the huge swathes of vibrant colors that make up this masterpiece.

Although I must admit that I just wanted to play tonight. But I continued to add the blocks of color until time to start layering the figure. In between conversations about scary movies, Borat and South Park, she helped me figure out how to place the figures on the boat. So her tricks helped me overcome my anxiety and see that I might actually create something that is somewhat recognizable.

I am excited to say that I have been painting at home this week. I needed a Christmas tree for our downloadable MerriMail gift cards. So I opened up the Winsor and Newton Drawing Inks that I purchased in Oxford. Instead of using the various nibs for my calligraphy pen, I managed to find an eye shadow brush that seemed pretty clean. It worked perfectly other than holding a lot of ink. I just had to make sure that I cleaned it thoroughly between colors. We should have that posted sometime tomorrow.

Yesterday I bought a set of Cretacolor Aquastic oil pastels to use with the Horizons Club, as part of an afterschool program that I am teaching once a week. It was great to experiment with this new medium with the kids from the class. I think that they really enjoyed them as much as I did. At least several of them seemed like they were in a good mood.

So I have tried out three different painting mediums this week. A huge part of practicing discipline is showing up to practice. Opening the materials and sitting at the canvas. Often that is the hardest part.

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