Then I took a painting class

Picking up where my ‘first painting’ post left off, last summer I took a painting class at the Indianapolis Art Center.  Certain things about working with acrylic paints, and working with paint in general, had gotten frustrating enough to spur me into action.  I got a few books from the library — always the first thing I try — but did not find what I needed that way.  So, a class was in order.

Going in, my questions were ‘how do I mix paints at all and not come out with something that looks like you’d clean it up after it came out of a pet or child?’ and more generally ‘why is it so hard to get paint to do what I want it to?’  My teacher was Hector Del Campo and I really learned a lot.  This surprised me, not because I did not think I had a lot to learn, but 100% completely because I was not accustomed to his teaching style.  There was never any ‘lecture’ portion of the class; not even a few words before getting started, along the lines of ‘hey everyone, try this today…’.  Nothing like that.  Everyone in the class would just come in, get settled and start painting.  Hector would simply walk around the studio, over and over, looking at everyone’s work and making suggestions.  Just making suggestions.  Rarely, when a student just was not getting what he was saying — myself included — after the third attempt he’d ask if he could jump in and show us what he meant, and that would clear up the confusion like a blinding flash.  This is all he did; this was his entire teaching style — coaching.  But I really learned a lot, even if I did not realize it right away.  I was still realizing what I had learned in that class for months after it had ended.

I did learn much better how to mix paint, though this can still be challenging.  The ‘secret’ to making acrylic paint workable is so simple that nothing I ever read even mentioned it — mix it with water.  Just a little water on the brush helps a lot.  It’s something you need to experiment with, but we’re talking about a drop, or less, depending on brush size and how fluid you want the paint to be.  But it’s really that simple.

Anyway, enough talk!  Lets see the paintings!

Still Life #1 from my painting class, acrylic on 14" x 18" canvas

Still Life #1 from my painting class, acrylic on 14" x 18" canvas

The shadows are imagined, or poorly remembered, and aren’t quite right.  One thing I learned is that I paint slowly.  The still life had been disassembled before I got to painting in the shadows…  Looking at it now, I can tell the green vase is where I started.  The curves on the side aren’t quite right either.  The gravy boat was a bitch, but the colors came out nice, though they’re a little washed out in this photo.  The blue glass vase was fun!  The table and background were not those colors.  I decided to dress it up a little from ‘beat-up folding table’.

Still Life #2 from my painting class, acrylic on 14" x 18" canvas

Still Life #2 from my painting class, acrylic on 14" x 18" canvas

This one we started with the background already there so we could learn to paint over paint.  Starting with ultramarine on the left and cerulean blue on the right, I swirled and blended them together with a 1″ house painting trim brush.  Made a really cool effect that again, is hard to see in the photo.  The green marks in the table echo the background pattern.  The purple and maroon vases were really fun to paint, though I had a lot of trouble with the maroon.  I learned a lot about how to work with the paint that day.  The yellow planter in the middle was actually dark green.

I finished the last painting I started in class, after the class had ended — Horizons.


Horizons, acrylic on 14" x 18" canvas

Dedicated readers of this blog (thank you!) have now seen all nine paintings I’ve completed to date.  At some point now I may put together a gallery page.


Filed under Paintings

13 responses to “Then I took a painting class

  1. Jim

    Did Hector ever call you grasshopper? 🙂

  2. i like “horizons” the most, “still life #2” also very cool.

  3. Rob Slaven

    Yeah, this makes me think I should go take a class of my own. *sigh* So many “shoulds” 🙂

    • It would probably fill in a lot of gaps left by being self-taught… I always find that taking a class after being self-taught does that. This is the most effective way to learn, imo. When you get to the class, you’re already far from clueless and also very interested…

  4. What a great post, Zorgor. Boy, that does make me want to take a class or two.And of course, my eye just lit up seeing your abstract. 🙂 Really like that one. Lines, shapes and textures, what can I say? 🙂

  5. Nice paintings indeed, well done! 🙂

  6. Pingback: The first time I put brush to canvas | zorgor

  7. I really like the background on the second one. It’s very rhythmic.

    • I took a 1 inch house painting trim brush, put ultramarine on one corner of the canvas and cerulean blue in the opposite corner and swirled them together. The pattern on the table echos that texture.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and interpretations! Your comments and likes are what keep the paintings and posts coming. :)

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