Oil Painting Workshop Day 2

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 in Lessons, Oil Paintings | No Comments

On Day 2 of the oil painting workshop, we didn’t spend too much time mixing colors. Everyone took her palette home, covered in plastic wrap, and stored it in the freezer until the 2nd class. We dove right into painting, beginning with recoating the green, but this time we added details to resemble grasses and foliage. 

Ahem. Is that the Royal “We”? Well, I did help. . . that’s why they pay me the Big Bucks.

At lunch time, no one wanted to stop. I took a photo of each painting in progress. Some had progressed to the poppy, recoating the oranges and tightening and adding detail. This first one looks finished to me, but the edges need paint and the painting needs a signature.

At the end of our session, no one was completely finished, but I only teach 2 sessions, not 3. (I’m supposed to be “off” in December, so there.) Anyone can work at home on her own; will they or won’t they? 

All these lovely California poppies in oil paint by four of my advanced students from drawing lessons – YEA, drawing painting students!!

Oil Painting Workshop

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 in Lessons, Oil Paintings | No Comments

In the 24 years I’ve been teaching drawing lessons, I’ve never given lessons in December. But, some of my advanced students beg, plead and cajole until I cave in and give oil painting workshops during my “time off”. 

We start off with a little lesson in color, using the double primary palette. This means 2 yellows, 2 reds, 2 blues and white. The color at the far end is a mixture of the bluish red and the reddish blue, which becomes the color used for darkening. I used colored pencils to demonstrate this (I love to draw, you know!)Then it was time for everyone to squeeze out the paints. We spent about 1-1/2 hour just discussing and mixing colors. My method is to mix 3 levels of orange and green, dark, medium and light. Orange and green were needed because the subject matter was a California poppy.

First, I had them draw the general shape of the poppy on the canvas. Second, they painted the background. I didn’t take photos until the orange started going on.

A weird thing happened: I handed each participant 3 different photos, and each person chose the very same one, all without talking to each other or seeing the others’ choices! At the end of our session, this is where everyone was on their painting. 

On day #2 we will do the second layer and the detailing.

8 Things I Learned in September

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Lessons, Personal, Thoughts | 2 Comments

Still biting us after a year, although he is much larger now, Samson the Bengal wanna-be.

These are life things I learned mostly in September, although a few may have spilled over from late August.

  1. An Americano is espresso with hot water added. I can’t tell the difference between that and a cup of black coffee. My nephew is employed by Starbucks and informs me that Americanos suck. Not sure why this is his assessment.
  2. A dog will eventually eat food it doesn’t like rather than starve; a cat will become anorectic. Samson actually ate some dry food for the first time in the past couple of months, so maybe his tastes are changing; he is a year old now.
  3. Some people never do figure out where they fit in personality profile tests; I may be one of them. Just finished reading Anne Bogel’s Reading People, which is an overview of different personality typing tests; it was helpful, even if my main conclusion is that I don’t know who I am. I’ll keep learning. . .
  4. No matter how much I use InDesign and Photoshop Elements, they just keep confounding me. Adobe and Apple have been compared to a couple after a bad divorce; I come down on the side of Apple every time.
  5. If bread doesn’t rise very well, it will take longer to bake; conversely, if it rises very well, it will get done much sooner than expected.
  6. A battery powered drill can also be called an “impact wrench”–say what? Must be man talk.
  7. Crystal Pepsi is a thing. It tastes good. I almost never drink soda of any kind, and a friend gave me one of these to try. I have no idea if it tastes like real Pepsi or not. Because I don’t drink soda, the sugar and caffeine really packed a wallop!
  8. Drawing lesson for me: when shading by layering with pencils, with a heavy hand, you’ll get your darkest blacks by beginning with the blackest pencils; with a lighter hand, you’ll get your darkest blacks by ending with the blackest pencils. Maybe. Haven’t cemented this yet, even after years and years of drawing and teaching drawing.

Second Beginning Drawing Workshop

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 in drawing, Events, Lessons | No Comments

Arts Visalia hired me to teach 2 beginning drawing workshops this summer. In June, there were 5 students. The time flew and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. In August, there were 5 new students, and once again, we all had a very good time of learning.

They learned about the basics of drawing, and a little about me. I learned a little about them, and that taking photos with the iPad isn’t a plan if I want to show you the photos on the blog.

After much techie wrangling, I found a way to show you the photos. Tech explained is boring; tech wrangled with is alternately frustrating and exhilarating. I’d rather be drawing, teaching drawing, or blogging.

If it appears that everyone is drawing the same thing, that is because everyone is drawing the same thing. It is much easier to demonstrate once for everyone than have 5 different things happening at the same time.

Drawing Lessons, Tracing

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | 2 Comments

Is it cheating to trace?

Nope. Tracing is a tool, and if you can’t draw, tracing won’t solve the problem.

Yesterday, I said that we often trace the main shapes first, and then draw by looking at the tracing. If you look at the photo, there are many distracting details. If you get the skeleton of the picture on the page first, then you know the details will fit inside.

Rosemary took photos of this giraffe, and then we cropped it down to the essentials. She is now ready to copy the shapes on the tracing.

A tracing is no guarantee of accuracy. I can see that the head-knob (what are those things??) on our right isn’t just like the photo.

The tracing is a starting point. Many corrections happen throughout the entire process. Rosemary will look at this tracing in every direction, evaluating the shapes around the giraffe rather than just the giraffe itself. (In Artspeak, that is called “negative space”, in case you were wondering if I know the real term.)

You can be fast or you can be good. Rosemary is good. This giraffe will be wonderful, because that is how she draws!

More Drawing Lessons Fun

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | 2 Comments

In drawing lessons, each student works at her own pace on the drawing of her choice. (Men are allowed too, but this class happens to be completely feminine.)Below:

Jane, on the left,  sat outside a house and did a very nice sketch of it. She decided she’d like to do it in the highly accurate and detailed manner that I teach. So, she is working out all the dimensions, learning about perspective, and getting the “bones” of the drawing in place before she gets to the shading stage.

Elainea, on the right, has a very endearing photo of her grandson reaching for a Christmas ornament. We cropped it, and then she did a tracing of the main shapes. Next, she drew the shapes on her good paper, looking only at the tracing instead of the photo with its overwhelming details. After all the shapes were in place accurately, she began shading the child’s face. 

In very difficult or demanding subjects, I usually instruct my students to begin with the main part. My theory is that if the main part doesn’t look good, then you don’t have to spend time on the rest of the picture. Also, if you do all the other stuff, then sometimes the fear of wrecking the drawing will cause paralysis.

In other words, “Life’s short – eat dessert first”.

Drawing Lessons Are Fun

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | 4 Comments

Drawing lessons are one of the best parts of my art business. See? Happy people having fun!

Once a week, I spend an afternoon helping people draw at the Courthouse Gallery in Exeter. Some folks just need a regular place and time to draw, some need help with difficult projects, and some need instruction every step of the way. It is a pleasure and privilege to help every one of my students in whatever way they need.

This happens 4 people at a time, 1 hour per week. Each person works on his or her own piece, at his or her own pace. They pay by the month, a month in advance. Sixth grade is the minimum age. You don’t have to have “talent” or experience, just the desire to learn to draw.

My classes are full, but there are four alternatives.

  1. Private lessons at my studio in Three Rivers, scheduled when and however it suits both of us.
  2. A beginning drawing workshop at Arts Visalia, scheduled for Saturday, August 26th, 9-3.
  3. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THE WORKSHOP OR HAD LESSONS WITH ME, continuing lessons in a group format at Arts Visalia, the 3rd Tuesday of the month, beginning in September.
  4. Get on my waiting list for the Tuesday afternoon lessons in Exeter.

Drawing lessons are fun for everyone who participates. The only ones who don’t learn how to draw are those who quit too soon.

Claire drew the barn and we were quite pleased with the results. Her Mom requested leaves on the oak trees. It was very hard, but we figured out a way. The drawing looks faded because I photographed it under a cellophane sleeve while my camera battery was dying, Claire’s dad was waiting for her, and I was in a big hurry. My fault, not Claire’s!

One Day Drawing Workshop

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | No Comments

Happy Birthday, Lauren!!

At Arts Visalia, a non-profit gallery in (duh) Visalia, I gave a drawing workshop on Saturday.

There were 6 participants, all attending for different reasons – used to draw, always wanted to draw, tried it before but wasn’t successful, a painter who wants better shapes, draws a little but wants a boost. . . 

We started with the basics. I explained that drawing is a skill, not a talent, and the only people who don’t learn are the ones who quit too soon (or don’t listen). We went through the tools and the steps, and then did a very simple copy-the-shapes exercise. Next was a shading exercise.

Then, we applied what we had practiced to working from 2 photos of oranges.

The workshop was 6 hours long, and this is how the drawings looked at the end:

The drawings are all unfinished, but these were eager learners, and I think each one will finish and keep practicing on her own. Very pleasant group of truly nice and interesting people. I feel blessed to have met you and am proud of you all!


Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in drawing, Lessons, Personal | 9 Comments

Jennifer Logan was a friend of mine for about 30 years. We met in Lemon Cove at the Womans Club (yes, that is the correct spelling); I was taken with her English accent and for some reason, she liked me. She called me “Janner” and referred to herself as “Jennifa”, which tickled my fancy. 

When my studio first was public, I shared space in a very fine gift shop called “Shirley’s Home” in Exeter, before Exeter had murals. Shirley hired someone each year to help us during Christmas, and for a handful of years we had the pleasure of working with Jennifer. It was during one of those times that Jennifer suggested to me that I publish a book of my art, which became The Cabins of Mineral King.

Left to right: me, Jennifer, Shirley – 1994? 1995? 1996?

I followed Jennifer to Foothill Fruit in Lemon Cove; the next year after working a temporary job at the Lindcove Field Station, they offered me a full time job, so I recommended Jennifer, who lived around the corner. A few years later, after I finished a temporary job at the Citrus Research Board, Jennifer went full time there.

There were also two years when I needed crutches several times, and Jennifer was always there with a pair for me to borrow. We laughed about it, and sympathized with one another while being thankful it was always for temporary conditions. She didn’t mind when I confessed using them to get into the neighbor’s swimming pool (only as deep as the top step.) 

About five years ago, Jennifer asked me if she could take drawing lessons. I was astonished and delighted. She had done photo retouching and also set-painting in her life, but had a desire to try my style of drawing. It was a pleasure to meet with her each week, to have that regular time together. She began with this peony, which she later came to dislike (we call that “growth”!) (Jennifer, I’m sorry for showing this, but not sorry enough to not show how you increased in skill.)

We joked quite a bit about how she chose difficult subjects, working from photos that were too small to see the detail or just plain challenging in other ways. She was always cheerful and sometimes cynical at the same time, which would make us laugh.

She loved gardening, reading, horses, her dogs and cats, and her grandchildren. This is Anna, and although I haven’t met her, Jennifer said she caught the likeness.

Jennifer joined some of the secret oil painting workshops (given just for my drawing students, not open to the general public). She definitely marched to her own drumbeat – when everyone else painted pomegranates, she painted a buoy. When the class painted redwood trees, she painted a cat.

Her drawing classmates bugged her to try a redwood tree in pencil, so that was the project she was currently working on. She referred to it as “wood with leaves” and when I would correct her with, “Needles”, she would say, “Whatever”. Then we’d look at each other and snicker, and I’d call her a closet tree hugger.

Jennifer was the only person who called Trail Guy “Mikey”, and he liked her so much that he just accepted it. My dad used to tease her about her accent and call it “a speech impediment”, and she was always gracious with his offbeat sense of humor.

A few months ago, Jennifer surprised me by inviting “Mikey” and me to her upcoming birthday party. For the first time in almost 30 years, she actually told me her age, which was also a surprise. I said, “Jennifer, you could be my mother, and it wouldn’t even be a scandal! I had no idea.”

On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Jennifer surprised us all by moving to Heaven. She went quickly with no fuss, no 911 calls, no tubes, no hospital indignities, and no warning. 

Jennifer Logan, you were a dear friend and I choose to be grateful for the time we had. “See you, Sweets”, as you used to say to me.

One Day Drawing Workshop

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in drawing, Events, Lessons | No Comments

Are you interested in a one day drawing workshop?

Here is your opportunity!

Place: Arts Visalia, Visual Art Center

214 East Oak Avenue
Visalia, CA 93279
Phone: (559)739-0905
Date: June 10
What: Pencil Drawing Workshop
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Instructor: Jana Botkin
Details: This workshop teaches realistic detailed pencil drawing from photos. Advancing your skill set or new to drawing? All levels welcome, 6th grade minimum age.
SUPPLIES OR MATERIALS: The materials will be provided for the class. The student would only need to provide their own lunch, as the class extends through the lunch period.