FAQ--Frequently Asked Questions
answered by Virgia
- How long did it take you to learn to paint?
- I’m still learning.
How long does it take you to paint a painting?
- Some paintings paint themselves. Others, I struggle with for no discernable reason. It is hard to answer that question.
Where did you go to school?
- I did not attend a formal school of art. I did study with E. John Robinson, Richard McKinley, Jean Shahan, and Lea Myles. Many other guest instructors, who went through my studio in California also became my teachers. As did the teachers I had working for me in my studio.
If you teach me, won’t my painting look like yours?
- No. Painting is emotional. We are trying to put our emotional response to our subject matter down on canvas. Your emotional response is not the same as mine – so they aren’t going to look at all alike.
I want to paint just like you – can you teach me that?
- I can share the knowledge I have with you, but you will paint like you – not like me. You will be a great artist in your own right.
I’ve always wanted to learn to paint, but how do I know you’re the right teacher?
- It’s recommended that you learn from as many different instructors as you can. That way you’ll take what you can use from each one and incorporate it into that “thing” that becomes “your style.”
You advertise you teach oil painting – what if I want to learn water-colors?
- If your heart is set on water-colors, there are many good water-color instructors around. If you wish to learn as many different mediums as you can, then try oil painting and see if you’ll like it.
If I miss a class, does that hurt my chances of learning?
- I can’t make it every week – what do I do?
- I can’t come for three hours every week – is that ok?
- I might be late sometimes, or have to leave early – is that ok?
- I Instruction is based on a one-on-one basis in a classroom setting. You proceed in direct proportion to the time you invest in it.
Come when you can. The fees are “pay as you go.”
I want to take a class from you, but the day you teach doesn’t work for me – do you offer other classes?
- I I want to take a class from you, but daytimes don’t work for me – do you teach evening classes?
- I I will be willing to start new classes – but must have a minimum of two people ready to sign up. Evenings are available also.
I will not be offering week-end classes per my husband’s request.
I don’t want to paint in front of anybody – do you give private lessons?
- I will, but they will cost considerably more.
Will I need to spend the rest of my life taking classes, or will I paint on my own someday?
- The timing is different for each person, but all students will eventually paint on their own.
Do I need an art background to get started in your class?
- What if I have already gone to school to be an artist? How can you help me?
- My friend is quite advanced in art and painting and I’m just a beginner – can we both learn in the same class?
- The classes are set-up in such a way that beginners and advanced students learn together. You each work on your own painting and the instructor helps you on a one-on-one basis within the class structure, at your level of experience.
I used to paint a long time ago and stopped because of kids and family and have been looking for a way to get back into it – will I have to start all over?
- We are made in such a way, that we soon get over the “rusty” stage and proceed as if we had never stopped painting. It’s wonderful.
I’ve heard it’s expensive to buy the stuff I’ll need - how much does this cost?
- The initial outlay for supplies is usually the most costly. Once you have the basic supplies, the upkeep is minimal. The on-going supplies you will need are canvases, Liquin, brushes, paint thinner and pallet paper. If you buy everything at once, it will probably cost about $250. Your instructor is willing to work with you concerning cost because the idea is to learn to paint, not go broke.
- Talk to your instructor about renting supplies weekly until you decide this is what you want to do. The charge is $5.00 per use plus your regular hourly cost for the class.
- Consider sharing supplies with a friend. That way you both can learn to paint which is what it’s all about.
I have supplies that my friend gave me – do I need to buy all those you want me to have now?
- I’ve picked up painting supplies over the years at garage sales and flea markets – will they work?
- My supplies have been stored in the attic/basement – are they any good?
- You and your instructor should make time to go through your supplies. Oil paints hold up well over a long period of time. Your instructor is always willing to work with what you have in the beginning, with a few additions. Brushes however, tend to deteriorate if they haven’t been properly taken care of. Check them out carefully
I don’t have much money but I’ve always wanted to paint – can you help me?
- What if I don’t want to spend a lot of money just to find out I’m not into this?
- Talk to your instructor about renting supplies for each class at $5.00 each time plus your hourly charges. Or consider going together with a friend and sharing – that way you both can learn to paint.
What stores can I shop at?
- I always prefer to shop locally wherever possible. I understand Hobby Lobby and Quality Art in Boise have a large stock of supplies. I have heard that Mulberry Place in Mountain Home is good also. There is also Aaron Brothers Art for canvas and frame sales especially. Michael’s and JoAnn’s have supplies. Of those two Michael’s has by far the better selections. Especially brushes. Brushes are so varied anymore I work with whatever is out there. I work very little with bristle brushes. When a student is new, they tend to pick cheap. After they have been with me for awhile, they start to have preferences. Education about supplies comes during classes so discerning choices will be made in the future.
- I I prefer Dick Blick if you are going to buy from Catalog’s. The other Catalog Companies out there are all right but are not as customer oriented as Dick Blick. Prices vary widely.
- T There are many good brands available in all supplies. I work with what the student has and can afford. Good products and good equipment is important. Care of your supplies is essential. Talk to your instructor.
I can’t draw so how can I paint?
- Painting teaches drawing with a brush. We teach you how to be creative.
I can draw really well, will that help me?
- It will help in applying the drawing to your canvas. There are many ways to do this, and not all require drawing techniques.
I don’t know what to paint – can you help me?
- If you don’t have any photographs your instructor has a full library of things to choose from and loves to share them with students. Just ask.
I can’t even draw stick figures - can I learn to paint?
- I’m glad you can’t draw stick figures, as I’ve never found any in nature. A viewer’s eye will go straight to a straight line, so only man-made objects would be compatible with stick figures. It’s best to leave them out altogether.
Do I have to take my stuff home after each class?
- Yes, please. I don’t have the room for storage.
If I take my work in progress home every week, how do I transport it safely without messing up my car or the painting?
- Speak to your instructor about this. Generally speaking, a scrapbook tote on wheels with a handle or a suitcase with wheels and handle work best.
I’m allergic to a lot of things – can you help me?
- There are water soluble oils on the market that are mainly acrylic in nature. They are mixable with oils at a 30% ratio. A different set of mediums would need to be purchased. They act similarly to acrylics. Acrylic painting and oil painting are two different things. Your store clerk is your best educator concerning these paints.
- My experience has been that paint thinner, turpentine, mineral spirits and anything with a strong odor is usually the allergy culprit. I am allergic to a lot of odors myself, so I insist on odorless paint thinner. Oil paints have very low odor properties, but will become strong if left to sit in paint thinner without a lid for long periods of time. Silicoil jars come with a lid that lessens the odors. Liquin has a strong smell sometimes, but hasn’t been known to cause an allergy attack. Check with your instructor for further information about these substances.
How long will it take me to learn?
- Everyone learns at a different pace. There is no set answer to this. Your instructor recommends that after each class you work on another painting at home, applying what you have learned in each class. Essentially, you will have two paintings in progress at all times. You’ll learn twice as fast that way. Roughly, a painting is divided into learning- sessions.
- Session 1 is getting ready to paint. Using photographs and learning about composition, placement, perspective, proportion, anatomy of objects and shapes, your photograph is transferred to the canvas. There are many different ways to do this which your instructor will explain. Start another painting at home and bring it to the same state of completion as the class painting.
- Session 2 will be all about mass tones, value, tone, intensity and hue, complements and grays. Learning about the tools of an artist, and where to start leads to applying paint to the canvas. The second painting at home is to be continued.
- Session 3 is developing the painting with color. Cast shadows, reflections, body shadows and tones, highlights, light source. When to get rid of your photo and start “creating” can happen at this point. The second painting at home is to be continued.
- Session 4 is the refining, stage, perfecting the preceding steps. The second painting at home is usually brought to the same level of completion as the class painting. Self-critiquing is being learned also. Variations on these steps will occur through-out the artist’s life.
You paint realism – what if I don’t like realism and want to do impressionistic art?
- All art is based on creativity. There are certain rules that need to be applied as we go from inspiration to a finished painting that will elicit an emotional response in our viewer. After the rules are learned, an artist may take them anywhere they wish to go.
You go by some kind of rules – I’m a free spirit and don’t want to follow any rules – do I have to do it your way?
- “My way” teaches the basic ground-rules of art. It is probably best to learn what the rules are before you start breaking them – in a free-spirited way of course.
Why do I have to do the under painting like you teach?
- There are as many different methods of painting as there are teachers who are willing to teach them. Under painting is the tonal composition I prefer to use. It is a foundation for glazing which I also use in my teaching. It is a way of teaching and using complementary color theory. It is a slower procedure than alla prima (all in one sitting) painting but it is a foundation for the finished painting.
What is Liquin and why do I need it?
- Liquin is a medium used for many purposes. It is as close to the old masters formulas for mediums as modern science and technology can produce. It consists of turpentine, linseed oil, and a cobalt quick dryer. It facilitates drying so painting can continue in a short period of time, it makes dry paint look wet and therefore easier to match, it makes the surface tacky and therefore like painting onto a wet surface. Your instructor can explain the many other uses of Liquin, but it’s biggest function is in the glazing method.
Do you paint from your head?
- I paint from what I can see. Thinking is an important part of painting, just as visualizing and feeling are integral parts of painting. However, thought messages – logic – come from the left brain to the right brain and can be creative if used properly. If it gets stuck in the left brain and analyzed to death, you get bogged down in the “how-to’s” and structure and lose all looseness and creativity. Then it becomes symbolism.
- Never be afraid to experiment or change. All that’s lost is a little time, a little paint maybe a canvas. Who knows – this century’s masterpiece may be the outcome.
Oh, you use photographs – why don’t you paint from your head?
- A lot of the reasons are stated above. I know that nature isn’t always right, but neither are photographs. I don’t have the time during the daylight hours to go out and paint, and the bugs and the weather force me to stay indoors to pursue my art. Photographs are a great way for me to have the best of both worlds. At some point in my painting, I put the photograph away and paint the way the painting “tells” me to paint.
I’ve heard that you’re really not an artist until you can paint from your head or imagination – is that true?
- No it’s not true. Painting or drawing from your head or imagination, with no pictorial reference, can be good because it can lead to many different art forms such as symbolism, cartoons, anime, manga, animation etc. The list goes on.
- Realism, which is what I do, needs subject matter to view whether it’s the great outdoors, a good photograph, or maybe even a person. Your imagination is your creative being, and every time you create, you’re using your imagination.
Do you ever go outside and paint?
- I have and it is unique. I found out bugs like yellow paint, and I don’t like bugs, dirt or wind. The light also has a habit of shifting.
I’ve seen that guy on TV who gets a painting done in half an hour – can you do that?
- I’ve seen that guy on TV who gets a painting done in half an hour – will I be able to do that?
- I’ve seen that guy on TV who gets a painting done in half an hour – do you think he’s any good?
- I have taught it for so many years, I don’t care to do it anymore so you will have to find someone other than me to teach you as I don’t wish to teach it any more. My opinion is not what counts. Bob Ross, and Bill Alexander before him and Lea Myles before the two of them have done a lot to get art out to the general public via PBS TV. Art has become accessible to anyone thanks to these pioneers.
Is there some kind of formula I can use to paint with, like paint by number stuff?
- Never reduce your painting to a formula or a set of structured rules. Loosen up and enjoy it. There are as many ways to paint as there are artists to teach them. If you like your finished painting, then you did it “right.”
What age do you have to be to do this?
- Any age, although children – over the age of seven or eight – need to have a strong desire to create art and a better than average attention span. I don’t recommend starting children in painting until their teen years.
Can I bring my children?
- Your attention needs to be focused on your painting for two or three hours. We recommend you not bring small children.
Do you teach kids?
- I do teach children, but in their own setting, and usually I teach them drawing, cartooning and anime art. They are interested in expressing themselves as their friends do and these things seem manageable to them.
Can I bring my friends?
- Yes, friends can come as observers or as potential students. Let them know the duration of the class and if they can’t stay the whole time, they will need to have their own transportation.
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