Tag Archives: Painting

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The Big Ta Da

“The difference between art and science is that science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else.” -Donald Knuth, American computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University.

This student is in the 7th grade. His compositions are always unusual and well thought out and his brushstrokes create a sense of movement throughout the composition.

This student is in the 7th grade. His compositions are always unusual and well thought out and his brushstrokes create a sense of movement throughout the composition.

Parents love the performance, the big game, the recital; it’s a chance to have their child in the spotlight and have bragging rights, too! I love theater, dance, and music and I enjoy seeing children on stage, and all are important components of a well-rounded education. But what about the visual arts? There is rarely applause, but painting, drawing, and sculpture are just as important to the education of a child and to our society as the performing arts. The joy a young child feels when they create an artwork is magnified by the fact that their creation can be shared with their classmates and family. The knowledge that your art can bring joy to others is empowering. It’s an opportunity for a child to have a positive effect on their world.

Why should children participate in art class? Creating a painting is personal; the artist can communicate feelings they may have no words to express. Gaining an understanding of their emotions can help a child develop compassion and caring for others and for themselves.

Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, Art Programs, Art Classes, Riverside CA, pamelaatkinsonart.com, pamelaatkinson.net, creativekidshavefun.com

Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, Art Programs, Art Classes, Riverside CA, pamelaatkinsonart.com, pamelaatkinson.net, creativekidshavefun.com

Pamela Atkinson, Pam Atkinson, Art Programs, Art Classes, Riverside CA, pamelaatkinsonart.com, pamelaatkinson.net, creativekidshavefun.com

These second grade students were given the same instruction and viewed the same examples, but the three paintings are all unique. No two children are alike and their artwork shouldn’t be either.

The abilities of their classmates have a strong effect on a child’s sense of worth. Excelling in a subject and being proud of your work is crucial to self-esteem. By focusing only on Science and Math we leave a large percentage of children vulnerable to making false assumptions about their ability to succeed in the world. Developing self-discipline and the courage to keep going is something that the visual arts can develop in a child. Creating more and more artwork, the student’s skills and understanding of the process of making art develops, as does their ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas.

Arts education is crucial if we are to have a society that is literate, able to solve problems, and think creatively. These skills are needed in the rapidly changing 21st century. The procedures used in making an artwork are a mixture of knowledge; some of it technical, acquired experience, and on-the-spot intuition.

It’s my belief that everyone can learn to draw, paint, or make a sculpture, but most children are never given the intellectual tools or the opportunity. Creating artwork takes an accumulation of experiments to reach the place where all the elements and principles come together for success. This process should start early and continue through elementary school at the very least. Years of exploring and experimenting will help a child develop an understanding of what it means to be a creative thinker. Practice is important; not everything that’s created will become a finished artwork, but each attempt will be a step in the development of skills and expand the artist’s knowledge. Art can set students on a path that leads to a life of creative thinking, problem solving, and the joy of making and appreciating art.

This student is in the 5th grade and she has a well-developed sense of style. All the artwork in this post was created by students from All Saints Carden Academy.

This student is in the 5th grade and she has a well-developed sense of style. All the artwork in this post was created by students from All Saints Carden Academy.

Pamela Atkinson

But I Don’t Need Any Paint!

I’m a paint snob! I only like quality brands and Golden is the only acrylic paint I use. Their fluid acrylics are the best and I can’t do without the Acrylic Glazing Liquid. Depending on the look I want: I paint it on the canvas before I add color, I mix it into the pigment to make it more transparent or to create a glaze, and I use it on top of the paint to blend it. These paints are easy to use and create consistent results and I recommend them to my adult students.

Going to the art supply store is one of the fun things we do on the weekend. It’s a toy store for artists but because my favorite store is 50 miles away, I make sure that my inventory of both acrylic paint and watercolor doesn’t get low. I don’t need paint but Golden has a new line of watercolors called QOR, and I couldn’t resist!  I purchased the High Chroma Set of 6 colors which contained Green Gold, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Cobalt Teal, Dioxazine Purple and Quinacridone Magenta, in 5 ml tubes. The advertising copy says they are “amazingly brilliant” and its true! I’ve used most of the major brands of watercolors and these react in a different way and the colors glow!

For my basic palette, my favorite brand is DaVinci, the paint is high quality and the tubes are large, 37mL, and like Golden, they have always been helpful when I’ve had questions about a product.  Lately, I’ve been using Daniel Smith Watercolors because of all their unusual colors. I’m an artist who prefers to use 5 tubes of paint or less in a painting, so it’s fun to add in colors like Indanthrone Blue and Perylene Maroon.

Most quality brands of paint handle in a similar way, but QOR moves differently on the paper. Gum Arabic is the binder for watercolors but QOR uses a unique product.  There is a nice introductory video on the QOR site that explains the difference.   I needed to make a couple of adjustments to my technique to get the colors to flow one into another without hard edges. With the QOR colors it took more effort to accomplish the fluid look I want, but once I got used to the way it applied I didn’t have a problem. Watercolors come in transparent, opaque, and granulating which look uneven on the surface of the paper, these qualities give a painting its  character. I didn’t use any granulating pigments in the painting below, but the Cobalt Teal (included in the set) is  granulating and Semi-Opaque.  All the pigments I used were transparent, except Dioxazine Purple, which is semitransparent.  The colors are bright and clear and mix well with each other and they all have a similar intensity which gives the painting a contemporary look.

All the Stars int the Universe, Watercolor, 9" x 12", © 2014

Pamela Atkinson, “All the Stars int the Universe”, Watercolor, 9″ x 12″, © 2015,  Print available in Pamela’s Etsy shop.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the other QOR colors. I like the clean, bright quality of the paint. But I need to remember, that I don’t need any more paint!  

What’s your favorite paint?  Have you tried QOR?  What do you think?

What Gets Your Creativity Flowing?

Moon Moss Season Set

Pamela Atkinson, Set of “Moon Moss” prints, digital prints of original watercolors, each image measures 7″ x 9″. Original watercolors and prints available in Pamela’s Etsy shop.

What gets your creativity flowing? For me, it might be the weather. I’m a California girl by choice, not birth. Originally from Illinois, I came here after hearing talk of not one more snowy winter! My parents had had it! Since I was a child, I had no say in the matter and off we went to sunnier climes. But I’ve always felt the loss of the seasons; flowers blooming, leaves falling, and even the snow (or the romantic idea of snow).  A feeling that the passage of time means something more than people changing the strings of holiday lights around their houses from pumpkins to icicles. Now, in the ever sunny and hot environment in which we live, I long for a change that doesn’t come.  Yes, it gets cooler but not cool enough. And so, every year, I strain to feel the crispness of autumn in the air and watch for the pattern of the light to change. It signifies for me a chance to dig deeper into myself and create.

What sparks or inhibits your creative output? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Tribute

It is with great sadness that I write this post, one of my painting students passed away last week.

About twelve years ago, I received a call from a woman who wanted to come to my watercolor/acrylic painting class and paint with oils. I said no. I explained that I hadn’t used oil paints since high school and wouldn’t be able to help her. She came anyway! And boy am I glad she did! If she’d listened to me I would have missed meeting a generous, thoughtful, sensitive woman, who spoke her mind without apology.

Classes come and go, and I was no longer teaching adults when I got another call. Could I come and work with a small group in her home studio? Of course I said yes, and three years ago I began what her son called “Tuesdays with Laurie.” Laurie referred to the group as the “Golden Girls,” three unforgettable women, all with different painting styles, and all dedicated to supporting each others efforts.

Laurie painted places she had visited and cared about; pictures with meaning and memories. She appeared to have no angst or fear about starting a new painting and worked to make each canvas the best it could be, even reworking paintings she had done in the past to get them just right. She was always on the look out for inspiration and loved the look of laundry hanging on a line.

When you work with people over a period of time you get to know them; where they grew up, the places they’ve lived, the people they love, and how they feel about life. I’m lucky to have gotten to know Laurie. She was irrepressible. I will always remember her joy, laughter, and curiosity.  Laurie Chamberlain, you will be missed and I will remember all you taught me!

Vibrant Color

Lush, vibrant, bold pigments; a tube of paint is magic!

Color Wheel

Color Wheel

But, when I’m teaching, I like my students to use a limited palette of six colors, (see the color wheel to the right). If they’re using acrylics, they also need white and if they’re really, really insistent, black. I don’t use black in my work because I like the challenge of mixing rich, deep colors. To deepen the value of a hue I use its complement (the opposite color on the color wheel; yellow and violet, red and Green, and orange and blue).  The more complex the color the better!

Tulips in Shadow, 22″ x 30″, Watercolor, ©2014

Pamela Atkinson, “Tulips in Shadow”, 22″ x 30″, Watercolor, ©2015

When I created most of my early watercolors (see painting on the left), I used only four tubes of paint; Cadmium Yellow Medium, Permanent Rose, Ultramarine Blue, and Sap Green. The work I made with this color scheme had unity and a distinctive look and sometimes I still use them.

 

 

Reflections Triad

Reflections Triad

But I don’t like rules in art and new colors delights me, so lately, I’ve been having fun using the watercolor triad sets sold by Daniel Smith. The Reflections Triad* came today. I’ll mix and match these paints with colors I already own. I’ll keep the selection to 4 or 5 pigments per painting and make sure I have a clear bright hue in the mix. I can’t wait to try the Blue Apatite Genuine and I’ll be sure to post the results. Do you have a favorite paint color? I’d love to hear your comments.

*Update, Daniel Smith now sells only the primary and secondary triad set. Still a great deal, you can check them out at Daniel Smith sets.

Curious Viewers

Pamela Atkinson, "Tulip Moon #2," Watercolor, 9" x 12", ©2015

Pamela Atkinson, “Tulip Moon #2,” Watercolor, 9″ x 12″, ©2015

On occasion, I run into someone who is genuinely curious about what I make and why I make it. I am grateful for these generous individuals, they give me a chance to discuss my work and get a fresh take on something I have created.

Painting is a solitary occupation. It’s me, the paint, and the surface on which I’m working. My mind is busy making decisions, spotting discoveries, and solving problems. When I paint I’m expressing my thoughts and feelings; my philosophy of life. The energy and care that I pour into creating are the reward but coming across a curious viewer is a gift. My work is mysterious and amusing and it’s nice when someone gets that.

Please leave a reply, I welcome your thoughts and your stories.

My First Post

Color Studies

Two of my watercolors, “Moon Moss #2” and “Moon Moss #4,” and color charts, Pamela Atkinson, ©2015.

The decision to write a blog was not an easy one for me. My internal critic knows many reasons why this is a bad idea and will articulate them ad nauseam. And yet, I’ve decided to ignore the doubts and excuses; what will I say each week? Who will want to read it? You’re not a writer, you’re a painter, etc. etc. I could go on and on, but I love art and sharing my enthusiasm for color and paint has won out.  So, here I am writing my first post. Starting at the beginning seems like a good idea.

One of my preschool students painting a wonderful animal picture.

One of my preschool students painting a wonderful animal picture.

I have been a painter since my parents gave me my first set of Prang watercolors. They came in a metal box and I thought they were magic! Just add water and a brush and amazing things happen. With the stroke of your hand, you can create a line and turn it into a dog by adding a circle and four small lines. One color blends into another. The shape that starts out yellow turns into a big brown puddle when purple is added.  The paintings take forever to dry and all you want to do is show them off to anyone who will look! Almost as exciting is cleaning your brush;  plunging it into clean water and watching rings of color form and dissipate into a murky pool is all part of the fun. Because I work with small children, as well as teens and adults, I have shared these magical first attempts at painting again and again. Putting down on paper the elusive images in your head is both joyous and frustrating.

Please share your first memories of making art in the comments section.

I hope you enjoy my blog!