Art Lessons!

I'm so fortunate to have a few good fine art studios in my area and I try to take advantage of every course I can manage to make time for.  This past week, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to learn from the amazing Dan Nelson.  He is not only an artist, he is also an entertainer.  He is an expert in all mediums form oils, to watercolors, to sketching, to calligraphy.  He paints and teaches with such joy and enthusiasm and of course my favorite thing about him was the way he encouraged us to let the happy accidents happen {and you all know how I feel about those . . SERENDIPITY!}


This class was at The Art Room in Windermere, Florida and we were given a canvas, and 4 tiny tubs of acrylic paint mixed with gel medium.  As you can see, that's a version of the primary colors, plus white (except we weren't allowed to touch the white!)

We were given one minute, 2 large, flat cheap paintbrushes and then told to slap on the color, while sort of watching for the values!  Holy Crap!  That was contrary to anything I had ever learned.  What? Lighter values first?????  That is my under painting in the foreground!  I laughed so hard while we were doing this - my less dominant left hand making ridiculous smears and crazy marks.

Next, we were permitted to use the white . . . FOR 30 SECONDS . . . to quickly add some light values wherever we saw them. Again, we were using LARGE flat bristle brushes (about 3 inches wide) and BOTH hands.  The inspiration photograph is at the bottom left of my canvas. 

That was it.  Pencils down.  The acrylic paints were whisked away and we were able to enjoy an amazing demonstration by Dan as he switched to smaller brushes and oil paints.  And that's when the magic began to happen.

His painting began to come to life and I wondered if I could even make sense out of what I had started with.  We switched to oil paints, (the same three colors) and smaller brushes - one for each hand. After a few minutes, my painting started to look like this . . .

Whoa!  It was working!  And I was using both hands!  I was starting to fall in love with these beautiful colors!  And oh my gosh, there was a little boat and a cabin emerging!  It was an incredible class, and in the end I really, really loved my painting - a bit overworked, but much looser than I typically work.   I wished then that I had a week to spend with Dan instead of only one day! 

If you have a few minutes, take the time to watch Dan's video below.  It is a promotional video, but shows a little taste of his beautiful work and insanely amazing technique.