Learning to be an artist. Making progress and works in progress

On the way to class the other day, I passed a much younger fellow student on the opposite side of the street. He called out, “Hey Diane, how’s it going? On your way to painting class?” He mentioned seeing my fractured self-portrait on Facebook and how much he liked it and I said I also liked the work he’d been doing lately. 

Self portrait

Fractured self-portrait
Acrylic

That 30-second encounter made my day. It sums up why I love being a college student again.

  • I’m several decades older than most of the other students in the art department, yet I always feel welcome and included.
  • My fractured self-portrait is an example of something I would never have tried painting if I weren’t in school. I love that I’m constantly being pushed outside my comfort zone and encouraged to explore new techniques.
  • I appreciate the support that I’m able to give to and receive from other students facing the same creative challenges I am.

Speaking of challenges, this semester I decided to take two classes. Granted, it’s not a full load, but I also write another blog called Catching Health and I have some freelance writing clients. Painting, drawing and writing are not things you can do quickly. At least, I can’t. One could do worse that spend every moment doing things you love, but a few times there haven’t been enough moments in the day for me to easily meet all the deadlines! Here are some of the assignments we’ve had to complete this semester. (Still more to go!)

Charcoal drawing

“Stephanie” 
Charcoal

We had to draw a body part with graphite or charcoal. I decided to try doing an entire head — this is my daughter Stephanie as a little girl.

painting of sneakers“Hi-tops”
Ink, charcoal, and acrylics

For this assignment, we had to draw something the related to the body part and introduce some color. I chose aqua hi-tops because that’s what Stephanie used to wear.

Acrylic painting

“Tree in the Cemetary”
Acrylic

Can you guess what this assignment was? Go wild with our color scheme!

Still life

Still life using variations of brown 
Acrylic

The red in some parts of the ribbon came straight from the tube, but all other colors were made by mixing a brown with another color or making a brown by mixing complementary colors. I love mixing colors. For the intense, somewhat distracting background I mixed all the colors left after each time I worked on the painting and applied it with a palette knife. 

Acrylic painting

Broken color still life. 
Acrylic

This one is a work in progress, not due until the end of the semester. We have to paint this jam-packed still life using broken color. It’s a challenge, because I’m more used to blending and glazing, but I’m enjoying it immensely.

Sketch of cat

“Charlotte”
Graphite sketch

This is also a work in progress. It’s a quick sketch of my cat Charlotte stretched out on my desk (while I was trying to write!) We have to do a portrait of an animal and add one our attributes or have the animal doing something we do. Charlotte likes to help me when I’m writing blog posts, so I’m adding a pair of glasses. She’s an orange tabby. It will be fun to mix up those colors.

I think I’ve made a lot of progress this semester (I can’t believe it’s almost over.) Jim, the professor, encouraged me to take some risks, especially with color and texture. I’m trying! That’s why I’m here in the first place.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.