Saturday, April 20, 2013

Professional Development Class : Week 1

Getting Started
First Week of class, and I'm already feeling overwhelmed!
There are more than a dozen artists who are ready to get professional in the Develop Your Style Class at Milan Fine Art Studio. I have take 2 classes there, and really like how Elli teaches. She's got the right balance of practical advice, encouragement, and helpful critique. And I am ready for a big challenge!
The point of this class is to push us to develop a body of work that is sellable, and to develop both a personal style and a process for painting.

We were each supposed to bring examples of what we've done, and visual examples of what we want to do. My theme is going to be "Family" - mother and infant, couples, parents and kids, siblings, etc. I want to paint people that aren't specific individuals, in a loose, painterly style. Renoir and Mary Cassat are artists whose style I'm liking.

Each artist shared with the group, and Elli gave frank feedback. Some things she said were along the lines of: 'that won't sell' - which in my case is pretty much all the paintings of people I have done so far. (I will show you those in a bit if you promise not to laugh.)
Reason: in a portrait, the person in the painting is looking out at the viewer. They are entering the viewer's space. Paintings where the person is NOT looking outward, but at something or someone within the painting, those create a little world of their own. And so the viewer can enter the painted space as an observer.

Using some of the examples of paintings by Renoir and Picasso that I had brought, she showed how this works. And she told me that none of the potential source photos would work, because the people were looking at the camera. Or they were 'ethnic.' Which irks me, because I want to paint humans in all their diverse flavors and colors. But this is a guideline I will stay in, for now, and just paint white people. Like this mother and child. (But I might make them purple.)

I will post the last painting I did- which isn't finished yet, and may never be. I have made some really awful paintings lately, trying to get loose, painterly, use more color than just fleshtones, and just play around.

And what the heck, here's a gallery of most of my portraits so far:

So, while these don't suck, obviously I have a lot to learn!
I am looking forward to this class. I know I will have to deal with lots of resistance, and frustration, and general grumpiness and procrastination.
I should probably be painting right now, instead of blogging! But I can procrastinate in SUCH creative ways!

Posted by Adriene Buffington


  1. hey adriene... i think your portraits are great. keep doing what you're doing, and don't fall into the trap of making art you "think" will sell. so many artists never really understand the true nature of painting, the mystery of process unfolding right in front of them, because they are too fixated on the end product. we end up skipping a lot of steps if our goal is commercial success.

  2. Kristen!
    Thanks for the encouragement.
    I know there is a great temptation to make crap just so it will sell. And genius artists who paint without regard for what anyone else thinks (like Van Gogh, who never sold a painting). I'm going to try for both- to paint work that I love and that is a true expression of me. And ALSO work within some parameters that increase the chances of selling my paintings.
    Parameters can be irritating- but they're also helpful to get me going. It's a class I want to take. So when Elli says, 'no portraits, no people looking at the viewer', I automatically want to resist those limits. But I know I can work within those parameters and paint how I want, and what I want. Then after I follow the rules, I can choose to ignore them.
    The key is to just PAINT!