Are you there by yourself?I'm out there with a class, so there's about 15 of us scattered throughout the area. Sometimes I'm near someone, but usually they're a little ways away. My teacher always makes the rounds so that he gets to each student at least once during the day. Sometimes it's nice to have someone to complain with or get feedback on how your painting's reading, but sometimes it can be distracting! I get pretty focused when I paint. We all walk around to see what we're up to, so it's nice to have another student pop by and get me to step back periodically.
Are you really out there for 6 hours? Do you stand all day?The class is officially 8:30am to 1pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I always stay late, especially Thursdays, which is the last day that we'll be at that location (a different location each week). It's crazy how much more you see when you're at the place than from a picture. You don't realize it till you try to paint from a photo of the place you've been! So, yes, I often am there for 6 hours, and usually standing the whole time. I take a break and walk around to see what other people are doing, but usually there's not much sitting involved. Once I sit, I don't usually want to get up again! I always crash when I get home from a painting day. And I am not good at painting sitting down - it's a lot easier to be able to move around and take a step back and see how things are looking. It's really easy to get caught up in one little detail when it's not even going to translate from a few steps away.
Thursdays we all gather at the end of class and our teacher does a quick critique of everyone's paintings. It's really cool to see everyone's different styles all lined up next to each other. Of course, mine are never finished by then, but I'm not the only one who has that problem! You can learn a lot from looking at what other people pulled out of the same area you were working on. And there are all different levels of artists (and ages) in the class, and most people are really happy to talk to you about how they work.
One of the ladies in the class has been in 3 art classes with me so far. She considers herself a photographer first, then a painter, then drawing. She's a perfectionist about her paintings - like me. So we get along well. I think her work is amazing. She has a style that I admire so much, but will never be able to pull off the way she does. She loves to layer on the paint and work with dryer paints (certain brands have more oil than others - it's a matter of experimenting, really) - scrumbling. She's got arthritis in her fingers, so it's hard for her to bend them, but part of the result of that is she has this amazing style. I'd love to have one of her paintings in my collection.
She's also been extremely encouraging of my art, and very open with how she works. Just today we were sitting, chatting after the critique (before we both went back to work on our pieces further). I had a really hard time with the location this week; for some reason finding the colors and trying to work outside my normal style just weren't clicking. I was complaining about how frustrated I was, and what I planned on re-working, which included the hulls of the boats. I said the water reflections just weren't working, and she said to me, so straightforward, "Of course they are." Nothing else needed. And I sat there for a minute and had to relook at my painting. I trust her opinion, and it helped me realize, maybe this was why I've been struggling recently, trying too hard and overworking things. Because I don't trust what I put down. I don't think she realized how much that helped me.
I also had one of my classmates, a cute Hungarian girl painting next to me today. We've chatted throughout the class, and she's hilarious, and doesn't really hold back much. This morning she looked at my painting and said, "What happened? That's not you! That's not your style!" Which I so much appreciated, because it's exactly how I'd been feeling, but everyone else was trying to encourage me with what I had. I knew it was wrong for me, but was trying to push through it. And hey, how cool is it to think I actually have a style? Plus, she kept me totally amused through the day, which is a feat considering how frustrated I was. She's been teaching me random Hungarian words throughout the class, and asks me English words (even though her English is really amazing, she thinks it's not, and constantly asks about pronounciations and contexts). Don't ask me what we talked about today - let's just say that certain Hungarian words that are harmless and endearing don't translate the same way in English! She did teach me foka, for seal or sea lion. Have you ever tried to explain what a seal looks like? Not as easy as it sounds!
I think I've digressed. And I still haven't answered the history of me getting out of art and back into it. But I will leave that for another day. Any more questions? I know there's a ton I haven't covered! Overall, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm still learning. And if I'm making progress and improving, then I've been successful. More than anything, the more I paint, the more comfortable I become with it, and eventually hope to not have to think about it so much. My painting has become much looser than my first class, and that in and of itself is progress. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, I've discovered that it's never to late to learn and to tackle something that intimidates the hell out of you. The reward from that is worth so much.