Painting has been an art form since man first spread red clay on the dark walls of hidden caves. Throughout cultures and time it has not lost the potency to communicate the human experience. Despite trends and fashions the painted image continues to persist because there is magic present when colored pigments coalesce into recognizable form. We delight in that mysterious process that reveals the simultaneous apprehension of paint and image.
Learning to paint is a life long task as good painters are continuously challenging their materials and ways of seeing. It is essential to have a good foundation of understanding of the optical properties of oil paint, the mixing of color and the physical structure of the layers of a painting. We learn this not only to make lasting archival works of art but also to maximize the potential of the material.
In our light filled studios students begin the journey. We teach the process from stretching the canvas to final touch; color theory, brush handling, glazing and scumbling, and palette selection are covered. We teach a classical method which allows for maximum flexibility for continued exploration. We are now using a historic method of refining linseed oil which has allowed us to make our studios solvent free. Our students go on to paint in many different directions and as they understand the behavior of paint they can stretch in new ways.
The semester course challenges students to try out many ways of using paint. We use oils because they retain their color when dry, they give the maximum expression to color in layers and the beauty of the surface is unsurpassed. Many students who had worked only in acrylics become converts once they see the rich luxury of oils. Traditional methods endure because they offer splendid possibilities to each generation of artists. New materials are exciting for experimental discoveries and we do not eschew the delights they suggest but the methodologies worked out over centuries are rich with nuance and depth, they offer us the chance to enter a conversation that has been going on for centuries.
Every generation since the early 1400's has accumulated knowledge of the world as seen through the lens of painted canvas. To be a part of that conversation humbles us and adds depth and subtlety to our world.
The creative process is learnable. Ideas and process spring from art itself. Doing is active learning.