Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vincent Van Gogh and Monet at Latrobe High School

To my good fortune, I am once again doing a 5 day residency at Latrobe High School. The class size is large this year at 28 students and time is always too short. Our first day was a basic day on the principles of color mixing with primary colors including warm versus cool colors with using acrylic paints. The goal in this brief time is a quick introduction to color schemes, success in mixing color, attention to composition and brush strokes.

I feel that the Impressionists do such a fantastic job of showing how to look at light and to have the viewer's eye focus the painting. Use of brush strokes evokes emotion and movement while the focus on the object itself becomes almost immaterial. Most of the students enjoy the challenges I present as I ask for an initial sketch as an underpainting using either Phythalo blue or Ultramarine blue. From there, I occassionally suggest turning the painting upside down to get a real look at the brush strokes as well as the use of positive and negative spaces.

The challenge in this class is that I am not asking for a duplicate of the works. Rather I ask that the student chooses to enlarge an area and focus more on the value of composition carrying through a painting to make it complete. I feel that any painting in any area of that painting should be equally strong in its compositional value.

I head back this coming Tuesday and Thursday and will continue to guide and help students solve painting issues to finish a painting that they can learn from and have a certain amount of pride in their accomplishments. On a political note, for those who do not see the value of the arts in education, Latrobe High School still strives hard to keep the arts alive!

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