Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to school ...

Art lessons as an adult:
Week One

I recently signed up for an adult art class at TaggArt Studio in Wakefield. Since I was an art major in high school and studied fine art all through college, I figured it would be a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours a week. A friend of mine from high school also signed up, so I imagined it would certainly be good for a few laughs! This still life set up on our first day back “in the studio
looked deceptively simple. After an informative discussion on what makes an ideal composition, we were ready to put pen to paper ...

We began by warming up with a few marker sketches. We were asked to look at the still life – but not the paper – while we drew the shapes in front of us. At one point our instructor asked us to draw with our non-dominant hand. Fun stuff! My brain was starting to hurt by this point! After struggling with “drawing on the right hand side of the brain
(it is an actual method!) we were then deemed ready to compose our first painting. The only catch was that we had to do it once again without looking at our paper, and without lifting our marker off the page. My friend and I both tried to follow the rules, but found ourselves cheating just a little bit so that we weren’t creating art that looked like our grade school renderings!

With our teacher’s approval, we were finally able to use some water colors to bring our images to life. I am pretty sure this would have come out slightly better if I wasn’t talking almost the entire time to my friend in class (just like we used to do in high school!) Later in the day when I showed this to my husband, he asked if one of the boys brought it home from school : (
I hung it on the refrigerator with magnets anyway : )
Personally, I love the colors and the shapes, plus I had a lot of fun (even though I left with some serious doubts about my artistic abilities ... )

Week Two:
Bright Floral Bouquet

Warm-up sketch

Quick sketches to decide upon final composition

A wet-on-wet technique (wash paper with water, add watercolor, let it do it’s thing without trying to fix it!)

This soft-focus photo actually looks surprisingly like the watercolor wash to me. At this point, I am beginning to think that it would be much easier if I just stuck with photography!

Weeks Three and Four:
Formal Still Life

Composition sketch

Acrylic paints that I last used in college (we didn’t have enough time to explore oils during this first session)

Some of my decades-old paint tubes had to be cracked open. Discovered that dried paint works, but not very well. Generous friend shared fresh paint with me.

Here is the section of the still life
that I decided to focus on.

We spent two sessions from beginning to end to create our “masterpieces.
Even though I wanted to finish mine off with pastels (much easier to work with) our instructor convinced me to push through my fears of finishing (always the hardest part for me to know when a painting is “done). I am actually happy with the end result (not perfect, but at least recognizable!)

In case you are wondering how I have free time to take art classes, I have actually been helping my friend, instructor Mary Taggart, with her marketing materials and the website design for her studio, so I figured that sitting in on one of her classes would be valid “research. I was able to learn firsthand about her warm and encouraging method of teaching, while reconnecting with my former fine art self.
It was time well spent!

To view additional student artwork (including my friend Cara’s beautifully rendered pears) visit the student gallery at To sign up for classes (there are sessions for adults and children, plus open studio hours) check the studio schedule (Spring session begins the week of March 8th).

I love this inspiration board at Mary’s studio. It says a lot
about what influences her artistic perspective.

A new favorite blogger of mine, Stacy Kunstel of Stacy Style, has been posting a series of inspiration boards that she has come across in her travels as a photo stylist for some of my favorite design magazines including New England Home, Traditional Home, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, etc.! Visit her new blog to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of some great interior photography. What a fabulous way to make a living as an artist : )


  1. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Yvonne! I really appreciate you taking the time to mention me! I also love seeing your paintings! Beautiful!

  2. How fun...and what a great idea to do this. So often busy women don't take time to do something enjoyable,


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