I know yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer, but let’s put that aside for now. True, I struggle with plein air painting, but I’m very happy doing nature drawing, and gradually I’ll be moving toward taking my oil paints along with me on my outdoor excursions.
Mostly, I still feel like I need to learn a lot — about drawing, about oil painting, and about other aspects of art. And that’s exactly what I’m getting ready to do.
I often refer to myself as a perennial student. I’m always learning new things, always studying one textbook or another, always coming up with new interests as well as continuing to pursue old ones. I study languages. I study music and keep up with my classical piano repertoire. I love history. I’m fascinated by mythologies. And on and on it goes. There’s always something exciting to learn.
As a “perennial student” who always loved school, there’s no more exciting time for me than September. This is when our schools always opened when I was growing up. I couldn’t wait to get back to the classroom, to see what new books we would have, what new opportunities would present themselves.
Now, even though I’ve been out of school for a long, long time, I still feel that same excitement every year as September approaches. It’s just part of how my brain is wired. September means school; school means learning; learning means excitement.
My desire to learn and improve extends to art, of course, and I am already getting excited for the “classes” I’ll be doing in my own self-taught home-based art school. I plan to concentrate on three areas.
For me, drawing is the most critical skill involved in art. I’m aware that there are many artists who don’t focus on drawing or who do very little drawing, yet I consider drawing to be a necessary ability. I’ve learned basic drawing techniques, but I have so much more to learn! I’m comfortable doing simple illustrations, but I want to be able to be proficient with more challenging subjects. I want to know how to use various techniques such as proper shading, use of cross-contour lines, and a variety of sighting methods. I know about these techniques now, and I try to apply them at times. But I need a lot more practice. These are all areas — weaknesses — I hope to address through my studies in the coming year.
My first love is oil painting, primarily landscapes. I love our beautiful mother earth, and I want to show that love through my art. Over the years — I started oil painting in late 2016 — I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve reached a point where I’m getting comfortable. I’ve worked to develop my own process for painting. I’ve practiced a number of different techniques. I’ve studied mood, atmosphere, color choices, and the use of light and shadow. As with drawing, though, I don’t always use the knowledge I’ve gained, plus I still have much, much more to learn. I’m getting comfortable, and I want to become more confident. Yes, confident enough to pack up my oil paints and go out plein air painting.
I have fun playing with my gansai — a Japanese watercolor that’s almost like gouache. I use my gansai a lot. I love making quick ink sketches and then coloring them with gansai. I use gansai for my nature journaling. I use gansai when I’m doing “nature studies” with twigs and leaves. I use gansai when I go to art club meetings. Plain and simple, I use it as much as I can because I always have fun with it. But, having fun and creating art aren’t quite the same. I play with my gansai. I don’t try to make real art because I don’t know how to create art with watercolor. Oh, again, I know a few basics. I’m better now than I once was. But in the coming year, I want to spend a little more time learning — and practicing — correct techniques for watercolor. I want to explore the medium more while still having fun with it.
Over the next two weeks, I’ll be art-supply shopping. That’s my grown-up version of shopping for school supplies. I’ll treat myself to a new sketchbook, new drawing pencils, maybe a few new paints and brushes. I’ll go through the studio — thankfully the water/flooding issues have been addressed now — and I’ll get my “classroom” set up.
I’m excited. I can’t wait for September to get here! I’m more than ready to go “back to school” this year.