It is such a treat when you see an artist's work and you
like it. Then you talk with the artist and you like him or her. And then you
see them in action as an instructor and you fall for their teaching in a big
way because everything they say makes sense. That's what happened to me when I
first saw Quang Ho at a still life painting workshop a few months ago. I just
stood there like a lump on a log and absorbed everything he was saying--not just
to me, but to everyone--because it all made beautiful sense.
|Roses by Quang Ho, 16 x 16, oil painting.
His main still life art lesson revolved around a painting of
white hydrangeas, a silver pitcher, a few pink roses, and a couple of lemons.
Suffice it to say, the scene was lovely. The colors were in harmony, the
textures where interesting, and the compositional shapes were dynamic.
the students painting the still life got to those dratted hydrangeas the
workshop went on the skids. Those flowers are really hard to capture. So many
little petals, but you can't paint every single one of them, yet how else are
you to capture their shape and form without giving in to all that detail? It
was troubling--and it is a challenge that crops up when painting most types of flowers.
I saw more than one still life painting student in crisis
over those lovely flowers. Until Quang Ho stepped in and gave one bit of
advice: "Back away from the hydrangeas." We all laughed, and I could see
everyone loosening up over this
challenge. But he built on his joke with a great still life art lesson: put
down your brushstroke and then leave it.
Quang pointed out that the problems
with many of the still life art being created in the workshop started when the students went back in and started fussing with it. They would
lose their shapes and mess with the architecture of the stroke. So he told
everyone to assess the scene, load the brush, make the stroke, and then don't
touch it again.
||Giant Peonies by Quang Ho, 38 x 48, oil painting.
I've turned "back away from the hydrangeas" into an artistic
mantra because when it comes to still life painting, I have all the time in the
world but I think that I use that as an excuse to keep working and reworking. I
have to learn when to leave well enough alone, and so I think of hydrangeas! A
little weird, I know, but it works for me!
If you want to enhance and evolve your still life painting
abilities, you can definitely start with 500
Acrylic Mixes and 600 Watercolor
Mixes. These are both great resources to keep at your side in the studio
for those times when you hit a snag when it comes to finessing color in a
painting. I've just about worn out the spines on my copies because they are
great quick references to have when you are in the midst of painting. I hope
you enjoy yours like I have mine!