Today, my good friend Marj came to the studio to watch me do a demo and then work on a painting of her own. She’s wanted to try oils for a while, but didn’t know quite how to start. I remember the feeling well. It’s hard for me to believe it now, but there was once upon a time when I was afraid of oil paints. An experienced artist friend took the fear away by coaching me, painting a demo, and explaining the process, and I felt honored to be able to in turn be able to do that for someone else on this day.
We had a great afternoon together, and I was amazed at how much doing the demo and explaining the steps to my friend helped me in my own process. Marj wanted to know about working with color and shapes, so we focused on the series of still lifes I’ve been doing for the 30 Day Painting Challenge. I wanted to show her how to limit her palette to three colors plus white, because it can be so fun and eye opening as well as help a beginning artist get a good grip on color without being overwhelmed. So, I chose Winsor & Newton quinacridone magenta, Michael Harding’s bright green lake, and Gamblin cobalt blue.
I laid down solid blocks of color in a thin wash with a brush to start, then switched to a palette knife and adjusted shapes, values, and colors as I went. At one point, I said, “I think we have peonies here,” and so “Still Life with Peonies” came to be. Marj got to see how it’s good to start with broad strokes and not worry about detail until later in the process. It was great fun for both of us to watch the painting come to life.
She has a good eye, and her own painting turned out great. I hope we’ll do it together again soon.