How I Learned to Paint

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People often ask me how I learned to paint. Some assume I went to art school and got a BFA– which I didn’t. I wasn’t born with a paint brush in my hand. In fact, I didn’t start painting until I was 44. So what was my strategy?

First, decide to learn from others. I enrolled at the local art school called Loudoun Academy of the Arts (now defunct). Sure, I could paint on my own and perhaps discover the principles of painting, but how much faster could I progress if the principles were explained to me? In addition to taking weekly classes, I read tons of instructional art books. My favorite was, and still is, called Oil Painting: The Workshop Experience by Ted Goerschner.

Second, resolve to paint every day. Whenever I asked an accomplished artist how long they had been painting, they would typically respond, “20 years.” Twenty years — oh my! Who has that kind of time? But then I wondered, how often did they paint during those 20 years? Maybe the first 12 years they were just taking a weekly class? How quickly could one accumulate the same experience as painting 3 hours once a week for 12 years? If one paints 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, it yields an equivalent amount of time behind a brush in just over 62 weeks or 1.25 years.

Third, be fearless. Take risks with your paintings. You will maximize learning. For example, there were times when I had a “good” painting, but it wasn’t “awesome.” The dilemma was, should I keep painting on it and run the risk of ruining it, just for the chance of improving it?  I decided to keep going. I asked myself, “What kind of painter do I want to be, good or awesome?”

Get out of your comfort zone. After a while, you will become proficient at a certain type of painting. The temptation will be to stick with that. While a successful painting is gratifying, remember to stretch yourself. If you’re proficient at still life, try a portrait. If you can knock out a landscape, try a city scene. If you specialize in sunny days, try a nocturne. Learning is what makes painting fun and is why you can do it for a lifetime.

Good Luck in Your Painting Journey!

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Cool Light

3Roses-3-G16I’m experimenting with transparent vs opaque paint. (The transparent goes on first. Then the opaque. Resist the temptation to totally cover it. :^) ) Some of my favorite artists paint this way. (Check out Tibor Nagy’s work.)

I also changed up the temperature of the light. Tipically my paintings have warm light. Here the light is cool. It’s particularly noticeable where the light hits the leaves and the color shifts blue-green.

Art Show in Beaufort, NC

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Sometimes you just click with a place. One of those places for me has been Beaufort, NC. This historic, coastal town is populated with the friendliest people. I was introduced to Beaufort in 2001 when I was the “Beaufort Wine & Food” featured artist and have been back every year since!

Things to do in Beaufort:

  • Tour the town in an open-air, double-decker British bus
  • View artifacts from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s revenge, at the Maritime Museum
  • Sail on a catamaran to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse
  • Visit nearby Fort Macon and learn about its Civil War engagement
  • Come to my art reception, Friday, July 15th at Craving Art Studio where you’ll see the above painting, Blue Pail, and others. The show will be up through July 29th.

Have a great summer!
~ Trisha

Hydrangeas and Copper Pitcher

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I taught a one-week workshop in Herndon, VA last week and this is one of the two demonstration paintings. The other was a landscape which I failed to photograph. This painting helped me talk about connecting the light and shadow shapes, choosing a focal point (the hydrangea on the left), how to make a focal point, how you use elements of the composition to direct the viewer to the focal point and, oh yeah, the color of the light. :^)