We (myself and Cindy Griffith) taught beginning pastel painting this past Saturday at the Wood Art Gallery in Montpelier. This is perhaps the fourth or fifth time we have taught this class. It was our smallest class yet (some last-minute student illness), but the beauty of a small class is the amount of attention we can give each student.
I love teaching this class! I admire the courage that it takes to sign up for a beginner’s class: by definition, these are people without a lot of practice or, possibly, confidence. Pastels are an amazing medium, though, and are perfect for beginners, so I enjoy introducing folks to them.
The students did two paintings. The first was a quick painting of an apple, just as a way to get used to the materials. It’s always fun to see the differences in the paintings, given that it is all the same subject. Personal style is an interesting thing, and seems to be innate, with people’s inclinations – bold or careful, realistic or impressionistic – showing up right away. Here are the students with their apple paintings. (You can also get a sense of the gallery’s classroom space, which is wonderfully light-filled.)
After lunch, we move on to their “real” paintings, the ones they have chosen to do. Most students bring a few photos to choose from, and I usually have the same advice about choosing for everyone: when you look at the photos now, what do you respond to most? It takes an emotional connection to the image to make a really great painting, I think. Again, I love seeing the differences in subject matter, as well as the variety of styles. Everyone gets stuck as they go along (of course, that happens to me when I’m painting as well!), but the beauty of two instructors is that no one has to stay frustrated for long. Here is the class with their finished or almost finished paintings.
If they look proud of themselves, they should! Each worked hard, and struggled through the variety of artistic choices that are part of every painting: composition, color, technique, feeling. And each painting is lovely and, I think, expressive. Congratulations to all of them!