"Painting is a process. It's not a one, two step and you're done." Michael Gadlin
This Autumn season i took the Nature of Abstraction with Michael Gadlin. I've shared with you his art and his art journals. Being an Artist doesn't necessarily mean you can teach. Teaching is more than being able to do whatever subject it is. It's about the ability to break things down into components to make them understandable and bringing them back together for those "ah ha" moments. Michael is one of those gifted people who are good at both. You could tell he put a lot of thought into each sesson and the overall goal of the class. He took his time with each student and explained things on their level. His teaching style is quite impressive and i admit being an educator (BS in Education), i'm a touch critic.
i was so nervous the first day of class. i am always like that so it's nothing new. i like that bit of nervousness as it keeps me pushing forward. i'm usually reserved, kind of shy, my first time in any situation. i quietly observe and get a feel for things before opening up. i wasn not going to say anything about my background or my job but just hang back and do my thing.
Michael broke Abstract down for us and we talked a lot of about design elements and principles. He told us he would contradict himself on purpose and would challenge us to see things differently. i learned to see things from an abstract perspective and it opened me up in whole new ways.
"Color is like the icing on the cake." Michael Gadlin
We did not pick up a paint brush the first class but used compressed charcoal. We did an exercise to see shapes, both positive and negative along with values. He pushed me out of my comfort zone (now i know how my students feel) like covering up my whole drawing and daring me to bring it back. It was frustrating and exhilarating at the same time.
One class and i could tell this was exactly what i needed. He stopped me after class and began questioning me (friendly interrogation) and wanted to know what my background was. So much for keeping quiet. i ended up telling him about my love of art, classes i took, my desire to be an art major but not enough courage to see it through, teaching degree, and now working full time in the craft industry including my stencil line, teaching, book etc. All in about 5 minutes or less...it's more like i threw it at him than talking with him. i was so nervous but he was so generous.
The next class we got to break out the paints but only black & white. We first did some value studies building on our previous class of positive and negative shapes. He leads by example and makes it look so natural, that the paintbrush is just a mere extention of his hand.
i have done value studies before but this was just a touch different with the shapes. Once again i was frustrated and giddy at the same time. i kept pushing myself to not give up and go to the next level. Painting in a classroom full of other people is definitely out of my comfort zone. i am an introvert so it's hard for me but my classmates were absolutely wonderful. it was such a great creative atmosphere with very giving people.
Next we jumped into seeing the shapes by carving in. We use the negative area to create the positive images. While doing this he wanted us to be loose with the brush strokes and make it our own.
This wasn't easy as our first instinct is to paint the shape, not let them emerge. We had to fight against it. It was a great exercise and once again opened me up. i kept repeating it over and over until i felt i had a grasp on the not only the concept but being able to recreate it.
"It's not about painting a line. it's about being one with the paint brush dancing across the page. You become the line." Michael Gadlin.
Michael assigned us homework each week starting with the second session. I left the classes feeling ready to go and wanting to create. i so looked forward to each class. In just two weeks, i started seeing growth in my own work without losing my voice.
In the third session we dipped into color. We only worked in primaries. i was using Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), and Hansa Yellow. He talked about palette etiquette, how to pull paint, and more. We had to paint using complements, working to create contrast as well as the tertiary browns. It was all about controlling the mixing.
We all had to then work those colors into a piece using contrasting colors, including warm versus cool. Michael wanted to push us into using more than just the colors out of the tube. He dared us to see the depths of colors and challenged us to let go. In fact many times he would paint over our pieces and told us to bring them back. it was shocking and motivating. i hardly ever back down from a challenge and it really brought out the painter in me. He knows the right buttons to push in each student to have them experience real growth. He also saw the positives in our work and was quick to point them out when we couldn't see it. It wasn't fluff either, he would explain when it worked or had us figure out why it didn't. I won't say it was an easy class but you left feeling like you could be more.
i have more to share but this post is long enough. It shall keep until tomorrow.