I’ve Been Painting!

Hello! And welcome to September! So, it has been a bit quiet around this blog lately. There is a good reason for that, actually. I have taken what time I have as free time and dedicated it to learning to paint. Unfortunately, I haven’t left enough free time to drop in updates to the blog and so it has suffered. However, if you would like to learn more of my experience so far, just keep reading…

How are you learning to paint?”

I am glad that you asked! After a few conversations with my amazing wife, we agreed on a time when I could sign up for the Evolve Artist program. I was able to enroll on Saturday, July 24th of this year and the ball started rolling. This program is designed around the concept that art works are composed of three moving parts, Value, Edge, and Color. Controlling these three aspects of any scene will allow you to realistically recreate the scene of a subject on canvas. This course includes most of the materials needed and by the following Friday (6 days later) I received my first supply box!

The Evolve Artist box has arrived!

I did not record an unboxing video but if you would like to see what is in the box, here is a video by Mithrilda of just that! She has a whole series on her experience with the Evolve Artist program and it has been a real joy to follow along with her. Go check it out!

Diving Right In

The very next morning, I completed my first assignment! This course is broken in to video clip instruction and demonstrations, followed by you completing a homework and submitting for review. Upon review, the instructors will provide feed back of things you need to keep in mind and work harder on with your upcoming assignments. The homework tool is also useful to ask questions and tell them about any hurdles you faced while working on the assignment. During the week days (M-F) they strive to respond to any homework submissions within 24 hours, while on the weekends that time frame can double up to about 48 hours. I do know they are working to hire more weekend instructors to bring this closer to the 24 hour time frame as well though. So, here it is!

Exercise #1 – Value Squares

Doesn’t look like much, does it? Well, they understand some of their students, including yours truly, have very little experience with an artist paint brush so the first exercise is quite simple. You are mixing your paint to the correct consistency, practicing sharp edges, and getting a feel for the values of the paint you are using. There is actually quite a lot of learning going on even though the result appears simple. On to the next 2 exercises…

Exercise #2
Exercise #3

You can already start to see some improvement in the gradients between exercises 2 and 3. See, edges are generally two types as taught within the course. There are sharp edges and graded edges. Now, there are thousands of variations of those 2 in the quality/level of the sharpness or gradient and the general edge shape but from a technique standpoint, they can be grouped into those two techniques. So here we are, 3 exercises in and we’ve already been taught the two edge techniques. Now we will continue to improve our control of these techniques through out the rest of our painting career! There is something else going on in these last 2 exercises as well…value transition! When in grayscale (and likely in color, though I’m not there yet) most of the value transitions are 1 step or 2 steps when moving from shadows into lights as taught in this program. There are 3 sets of gradients here, a transition from extreme shadow to moderate light (2 value steps), moderate shadow to moderate light (1 value step), and moderate shadow to extreme light (2 value steps). As a general rule, you typically will not see a transition from extreme shadow to extreme light (3 value steps) along a single edge. I am sure there are exceptions but that is the rules we have to learn by at this point in our studies.

“Wait, Exercises?! I want to paint Pictures!”

You’re in luck! Starting with the 4th exercise, we start putting our learned techniques to work. Exercise #4 is all sharp edges and starting to get a grasp on what is in the light and what is in shadow.

Cubes – 4.5″ x 7.5″ oil on Canvas Sheet

Next up, first use of gradients!

Sphere – 4.5″ x 7.5″ oil on Canvas Sheet

As you can see, we are already starting to be able to paint realistic still lives and that was all within my first week! As we progress through the program, each still life begins to get more and more complicated in little steps. The next paintings are all now full 8″ x 10″ scenes shown here in the order of progression.

Cylinder, Ball on Cube – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet
Cylinder on Vase – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet
Two Cubes and Bottle – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet
Mushroom and Cone – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet
Bottle and Tape – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet

My favorite of that set is the 2 cubes with the bottle. At this point the course adds in two new elements to handle, reflections and highlights. Now we are given constraints for now of only using a 1/2 value step to represent these elements so we can build an understanding of the relationships relative to the items they are on so in many cases they are understated here but on a path to better understand how to achieve them down the road correctly.

Apple on Pot with Ball – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet
Pear on Cylinder with Pot – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet
Jug with Apple on Cylinder – 8″ x 10″ oil on Canvas Sheet

My favorite so far is the last one. This photo does it justice as in other lighting conditions there are a few blemishes in the painting I am not happy with, a couple of errant reflections in the shadows.

What’s Next?

So here I am, 5 and 1/2 weeks since signing up and I have already painted 2 – 4.5″ x 7.5″ paintings, and a total of 8 – 8″ x 10″ paintings. My skills are progressing nicely and I am confident that this program will help me achieve my goals. It is very well planned and the founder, Kevin Murphy, has really been very thoughtful on how to present this learning. He is articulate, careful, calculating, and practical! It has been a joy thus far and I look forward to where this program can take me. Thank you Evolve Artist!

Jim Sponseller – mindescapes.net – 2021

Published by Jim Sponseller

Family man, father, programmer, and artist. I work with digital art, photographs, author poems and fiction, and also work in artistic metal smithing. You can find poems, photos, and digital art samplings at https://mindescapes.net. Thank you for your support! If you like my offerings and would like to donate, please buy me a coffee:https://buymeacoffee.com/jimsponseller

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