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53. DEVELOPING MY TEACHING CHOPS (WATERCOLOR, PART 1)

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FIRST: THE BASICS Watercolor is often viewed as an intimidating medium, and it can be intimidating if you are not prepared.  Much of that concern is caused because watercolor is transparent and very fluid, consequently it's easy to create ill-defined shapes and muddy colors...both of which can quickly lead to dull paintings and lack-luster compositions which lack 'punch.'  Because of its fluidity and transparency, unlike opaque and viscous mediums like oils and acrylics, watercolor can be 'unforgiving'...hard to overpaint and correct. For these reasons, I developed an approach and exercises that started from the ground up. I saw learning and mastering painting, and watercolor in particular, as similar to learning to play a musical instrument.  As learning scales and developing dexterity by practicing finger exercises are essential in playing music, so learning the principles of color and mastering a variety of techniques are, for most students, essential to learning

52. DEVELOPING MY TEACHING CHOPS (BASIC DRAWING, PART 6)

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BASIC VALUE/TEXTURE EXERCISES After the class was comfortable with dealing with 2-value and 4-value exercises, I introduced assignments in which the students experimented with various ways to modulate and blend a more subtle range of values... The students used different media and materials to create a variety of value scales...graphite pencil, charcoal, charcoal pencil, conte crayon, pen & ink, etc.  They came up with imaginative ways to configure them... ABSTRACT MODULATED VALUE COMPOSITIONS I brought in the concept that line quality, type of materials, texture, and composition could, in themselves, convey expression and meaning.   Creating space, volume, and movement through the modulation of value as well as using the entire picture area to create a dynamic composition as well as spatial ambiguity... The students found a variety of ways to present the modulation of values... THE ILLUMINATED SPHERE After the class had become familiar with modulating value in different ways, I in

51. DEVELOPING MY TEACHING CHOPS (BASIC DRAWING, PART 5)

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2-VALUE COMPOSITIONS FROM PHOTOS The second stage in working from photos was to go from line to value, experimenting with cropping and compositional possibilities, simplifying the subtle values of a photo image into just 2-values... I wanted the students to see the basic light-dark patterns and decide what shapes would best reveal the essence of the image.  I did a variety of demonstrations...some with ink and brush, some with charcoal or conte crayon, and some where areas of charcoal or conte were erased to create the light... Some I created with pen & ink line drawings over which torn black paper shapes were pasted.  This collage process was helpful in that shapes became paramount...the shapes could be seen as puzzle pieces rather than particular things, and they could be shifted around in the compositions... The students used various materials and techniques to achieve different textures and drama...always considering the basic 2-values of black and white, light and dark. SIMPLI

50. DEVELOPING MY TEACHING CHOPS (BASIC DRAWING, PART 4)

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  WORDS AND CONCEPTS CAN BLIND US VISUALLY As I've said, we're conditioned from infancy to look at 'things', not shapes.  Our parents point to various things and tell us what they are: 'that's an apple,' 'that's a tree,' 'that's a face,' 'that's a hand,' etc.  This is great as far as enabling us to learn language, but it's a disaster for creating a visual artist. Through the use of language, we see things conceptually rather than visually, and we separate each 'thing' from the whole.  Krishnamurti used to say that once a child learns the name of something...of a bird or a flower...the child never really sees it again.   I noticed in teaching drawing and painting, one of the most powerful obstacles for the students in learning to see was that they were paralyzed by words.  They would say 'I can't draw faces', or, 'I can draw trees but I can't draw noses.'  And so on. As visual artists, we