The projects we do in class are often inspired by the artwork of other famous artists from art history or who are enjoying some contemporary visibility. We do not copy the work of other artists. What we do is examine inspiring works for their beauty and technique. We ask ourselves, "Why does this composition work?" and "How might this artist have accomplished this effect? What technique did they apply to the paper and paint?" When we work with photos, they are either photographs I have taken (meaning I hold the copyright and I am sharing it with you) or they are copyright free images (CRF) gleaned from third party arrangements and CRF databases found online.
MODIFYING THE PROJECT
I always encourage my students "to make the project your own" by making a variation to it if one comes to mind. Even when students stay with a particular drawing and composition, there is a wide variety of final results which amaze everyone. That is the wonder of individual creativity and style.
COPYRIGHT OF MY WORK AND YOURS
I am amazed at what good artists my students are and become. Actually, a good number of my students have gone on to enter art shows and win awards which makes me very proud. Copyright is one of those difficult issues that any artist/teacher needs to cover. Most of the projects you do in class are under copyright with me because they are based on paintings I've created; this is one reason I encourage variation and change. Some of you are so good at replicating my work that your work and my work are quite close. It would not be fair to me to then take your work based on my work and my teaching and sell it. Doing so would undermine me as an artist. Perfectly understandable. The work you create in class should be viewed as a learning opportunity until the time you come to class with your own photos and drawing to paint from. It would also not be fair to me to take any of my projects and use them for teaching in a separate setting, again undermining my professional life. When you post work outside of our class setting, please remember to give credit to me as the place where you did the project. Thank you!
PREPARING FOR CLASSES
For the Tuesday and Thursday classes, we take on an ambitious project which is suitable for anyone--beginner to advanced. Prior to class, I send out in email 1) an inspiration piece which may or may not be how we will be completing the project, 2) usually a black and white image of the piece which serves as a "value study," 3) a line drawing for the purpose of tracing down on your paper before class begins to save time, and 4) other supplemental source material to help us fill in the details.
ABOUT COLORS AND PAINT
You will notice I offer two options for paint trays which include professional paints for sale if you are in need of supplies and would like to use the same supplies I use. The trays I offer are based on my basic paint tray of what I consider essential colors. Most professional artists use about twelve or so colors to complete their works. The colors I suggest I consider an excellent starting point. As you paint more you will want to experiment with other colors because it is fun to experiment and try new things, rather like trying new spices in the kitchen. My goal in offering these trays (and they exist in limited supply) is to lower a student's cost of entry for the class. The trays are sold at replacement cost given prices you can check at any online retailer. If you were to buy each individual tube of paint and a tray with a lid to put them in, your cost would be close to $300. These trays are a way for you to have the best experience possible without the heavy entry cost.
For years I’ve taught Watercolor classes in which we used a basic palette including 13 essential colors and an extra 8 for convenience. Let me explain. Some colors are “primaries”; these colors are not created by mixing other colors together. It used to be that only certain reds, yellows, and blues were “primaries” because those colors couldn’t be made by combining other colors. They existed in pure form in nature. Because of innovations in paint technology, there are now primary colors for almost the whole color wheel. So many new wonderful translucent colors right out of an expensive tube. Here’s the good news though. You don’t have to spend a fortune buying expensive tubes of paints. Almost all colors (except for the three original primaries) can be created by color mixing. Gorgeous oranges, blues and violets (secondary colors) are created by mixing the primaries. Same with everything in between.
It is a delight to have beautiful colors from a tube that could be hard to achieve consistently if you had to create them yourself each time you sat down to paint. So, having a “Gamboge” (a lovely yellow-orange) is “essential.” Ditto for “Maroon Perylene”. On the other hand, there are hundreds of greens you could buy in a tube, or you can learn to mix the most gorgeous variations using a few basic colors available here. One of the things students learn in my classes is how to understand color and mix lovely colors you can’t get from a tube.
If you are wondering if you can use you own colors from other manufacturers, and whether and if it is okay to mix manufacturers, the answer is yes. By all means, use whatever you have and always experiment with your supplies to see what happens. I believe one's goal should be to understand "what happens when" so you can begin to predict results--that way you can replicate them when you paint to get the result you want. Your result will be somewhat different than mine when you use different materials but that doesn't mean you won't like the results. If you've invested in another brand, use it.
TRACING AN IMAGE ONTO YOUR GOOD PAPER
There are several ways to deal with tracing. I start by printing the image to the size I want to paint it. Then, I usually take a sharpie and trace around the main shapes on the image to bring them out. Then I either use carbon paper underneath the image and press through the printed image over the sharpie lines, OR I put the image against a light table or bright window to shine through the image underneath my good paper where I capture the lines with a pencil. If it makes more sense to you to trace out a line drawing from the black and white image and work with that, then do that first.
Everyone is different. Some of us are realistic in our style and careful, thoughtful, slower in how we approach our subjects. These artists make us admire the discipline of study and patience as they develop their work. I marvel at the beauty of artwork that seeks to reflect the beauty of the subject as it is before us in nature, in life. This kind of approach would be described as almost journalistic and providing a record or document of the subject for historical reference. Then there is the opposite personality and approach which is less patience, perhaps more impressionistic, and looser overall. These artists (I am one of those) want their artwork to make an honest and accurate reference to the subject; we want our subject to be recognizable but the feeling of it may be a bigger priority than the smaller details.
We are who we are. In my years of teaching, I have found that my more realistic students come to class wanting to learn technique that helps them to "loosen up" and capture the fluidity of the medium. The students who come with a faster approach, like the realists, want to know how to control the medium to do what they want it to do when they want certain effects. I encourage people to be comfortable with who they are as artists and "own" your style. Keep learning and experimenting and integrate the new with the you. If you check in with me and express what your personal goals are for your art, I will do my best to help you get there.
HOW DO I JOIN ANGELA'S ZOOM CLASS?
Once your tuition has been received, your registration will be acknowledged and you will get preparatory notes via email about your upcoming class or workshop. I will also send out a Zoom Invitation Link to your email which you can click on to get you over to class. Log on to class at least ten minutes ahead of start time to work out any tech issues you might have or log on as much as 30 minutes early to settle in and visit. In this informal time, students socialize and ask questions that sometimes have to do with class and sometimes not! We've had a few highly philosophical conversations about art and life in that 30 minutes ahead of class. Also, if you have not drawn down your image because you had questions, this is a good time to get those questions answered and prepare your drawing ahead of the top of the hour.
WHERE IS OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP?
You can find a wonderful community that has built up around our class online at Facebook. Our private group name can be searched as "Angela's Art House." Request to be admitted and I will bring you on board. Sometimes is works faster and easier if you request to be my friend at Angela Wrahtz. Then I can add you without you doing anything more than accepting my invitation to join.
FINDING CLASS MATERIALS ON INSTAGRAM
This is new territory for many of us but once you get the hang of it, it will feel less strange. If you don't have an account on Instagram (owned by Facebook), set one up. This platform is for sharing images with a short note and hashtags. Hashtags are a way to identify your art as part of a database of art. So, if you upload a drawing or photo of, say, an apple, and mark it with #apple, the image will become part of a database that has probably millions of images that are similarly tagged. Now for the good part, when you are on Instagram, you can put a hashtag in the search bar (i.e., #apple) and all the images in the universe of Instagram that have been tagged this way will come up in their own collection. It is marvelous. There are general and specific tags for EVERYTHING and you can make up your own. Which brings me to our class...I have set up a hashtag for our class called #angelasarthouse. If you search that, images related to our class will come up and you can post your work there. It is our own little collection place for art and handouts and whatever we need to support our efforts.