First Painting Class Ever at the Barnsdall Art Center

Liz, Ray and I went to our art classes tonight at the Barnsdall Art Center in Hollywood. Ray is back in ceramics class and Liz and I are taking acrylic painting. This is quite a stretch for me since I have never painted anything in my life beyond elementary school art class where I don’t recall excelling.

Tonight our teacher did a demonstration of drawing a still life with charcoal and then filling in the drawing with paint. We learned how to look for contracts between light and shadows and not to try to be too perfect. “Hold your paintbrush like you’re eating a chicken wing, not like your writing with a pencil,” our teacher said. He also told us to relax, appreciate mistakes as adding sometime unique to the painting, and to understand that art is not about the finished project but rather about enjoying the process. Besides the chicken wing comment, I could have been talking to my writing students.

I enjoyed being completely absorbed in this process since I can tell you I had only the vaguest idea of what I was doing. Our teacher covered so much that I started to feel slightly overwhelmed with information, but then he said, “Don’t worry. We’ll be going back over this for the next several weeks. You’ll get it over time.”

Liz and I only had black, white and a brick color paint tonight so she did a painting with those colors and I did a black, white and gray painting of the still life we were looking at. We both burst out laughing several times looking at our own and each other’s painting, but our teacher didn’t seem to think ours were so bad they were worthy of scorn. Instead he was supportive and pointed out what looked right in each. A very generous man.

I was very tired when I arrived so I was happy to have the demonstration. Then when attempting to apply the information about light and shadow and color contrast to my own painting, I had no time or inclination to think of another thing. What a treat that was!

We will be going weekly for 8 more weeks. Next week we will have color to work with. I am looking forward to that.

Here is a photo of Liz and my first efforts in this class. This was a still life of an orange and several lemons on two plates. Of course, you knew that from looking at the paintings…


I hope you’ve had a good evening tonight with at least one good laugh.

I’ll look forward to checking back in with you tomorrow.

Here’s to trying brand new things and applying zero pressure to oneself related to the outcome.

That might actually be called the definition of fun.

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