One of my goals for this year is to take a class, and I believe I’m going to start with an acrylic painting class. A million (27) years ago, I studied fine arts in college and have always had an interest in the arts and art history. So I’m looking forward to resurrecting that creative part of me and spreading my artistic wings this year.
Classes and Resources
There’s a great cultural arts organization in my town which offers art classes, but they’re between sessions right now and I didn’t want to wait to get started. So I searched the web and came across a really great online painting resource, Will Kept Art School. Will is a UK-based artist who does beautiful drawings and paintings, and he offers a great deal of both free and paid art instruction on his web site. I will be signing up for one of his paid acrylic painting classes soon! But in the meantime, I watched several of his free tutorials both on his web site and on YouTube. Will’s videos are a great primer to help you get past the fear of a blank canvas.
After looking through my own photography, here’s the picture I chose to paint.
I snapped this picture at the Butterfly House on Put-In-Bay Island several years ago. The species appears to be an Orange Lacewing butterfly (Cethosia penthesilea paksha), which is native to northern Australia and Southeast Asia. (According to Google, this species is unique in that it appears very different with wings open than with wings closed. Nature is unthinkably clever, isn’t it?)
Anyway, first I cropped the photo to a square. Then I underpainted the canvas using a mid-tone magenta color, and sketched out the major shapes on the canvas in pencil. After that, following Will’s instructions, I used a big filbert brush and blocked out the blacks, white, and midtones in big, messy patches of color.
Following this, I walked away from the canvas thinking I surely could not paint and should perhaps go back to knitting. It’s hard to imagine that the above could turn into a painting.
The next night I re-watched one of Will’s tutorials and realized that I was on the right track, but that the greens I had mixed myself were too blueish. I picked up a tube of Liquitex Basics Hooker’s Green as well as Liquitex Basics Raw Umber and a smaller, size 4 filbert brush. Now I had the tools to go back to the canvas and try to refine the colorful blobs.
Keeping At It
After 2-1/2 more hours in front of the easel, here’s the current state of the painting.
Obviously there is still plenty of work to be done here. Some of the leaves still need to be shaped out, and the background needs refining. Plus the butterfly itself needs to be a bit more crisp in certain areas. But so far, I’m enjoying the relaxation that painting brings and thrilled with how things are coming along. Now I can’t wait to sign up for an actual class! If you are interested in painting, I would love to hear from you and check out what you are working on. And if you’ve been a bit intimidated by how to get started, I definitely recommend checking out Will Kemp Art School online!
Once this painting is done, I’ll be sure to share a picture. Please, share yours with me, too!