When I was growing up, I had a great-aunt with whom I shared a special bond. Irene Wolfe, or Aunt Neenie as I called her, was a great artist and a frequent volunteer in the arts world in Greensburg. I’m not sure how it came to be, but somehow I ended up taking oil painting lessons from her, which would allow me to spend hours at a time with her. We laughed, talked, ate and occasionally painted! Oil paintings take several hours or days to complete because of the drying time involved, so we had lots of time for the eating, talking and laughing part!
Because I remembered how long it took for each oil painting to be completed, I was a little skeptical when I learned that I could join a class for $25* (to pay for all the necessary supplies) and complete a painting in one night if I signed up for Art on the Square’s “Gallery Night Out.” Since I don't know where else I can get a painting for so little money, I thought I'd check it out.
Earlier this month, I joined a class of 4 other women to paint a covered bridge scene. I walked in at 6:30 pm when the class started and was shown this painting, with the promise that I would walk out at the end of the night with one similar to it.
As I said, I was skeptical, until I realized that we weren't painting with oils, but with acrylics! I will admit that I have done a little watercolor painting since my days with Aunt Neenie, but acrylics were a new experience for me. We started with this simple kit of tools: a canvas, a water bowl, a 2 inch paint brush and a paper covered table.
By the end of the night we had added a few colors of paint, a couple more brushes, paper towel, a natural sponge, a white paint marker and a pen and a tooth brush to our arsenal. It all added up to a painting! Here are the steps we took:
First, we wet the canvas with the big brush, and then used the same brush to make big sweeping motions with brown in the sky. Then we used a paper towel to daub away parts of the color. Interesting beginning to the sky!
We used a fan brush with different painting strokes to make trees, grass and bushes. Our teacher Billy drew in a simple bridge to help us visualize our finished project.
We used the fan brush and a yellow color to add in details to the trees and grasses. Then we daubed a natural sponge throughout the trees to give it depth. It’s a good thing that the table was covered with paper- it was well used by the end of the night for checking colors and techniques!
Then we added blue in much of the same way we added the brown to start the sky. It starts to make sense now, doesn't it! A little blue in the water and some on the snowy areas to reflect the sky and we are almost there…
Woah, did my 4 year old paint a bridge? Billy promised us that it would get better…
The red bridge had to dry before we could add another layer to make it more opaque. The hair dryer- an artist’s secret weapon!
A little darker red on the bridge and some brown stripes and we are suddenly getting somewhere!
Icicles on the bridge, courtesy of an acrylic paint pen. Who knew they made such a thing!?!
And then Billy hands us a tooth brush…. What??? It’s for the….
SNOW! Load the toothbrush up with white paint, and then flick it with your thumb. It’s messy, but the end result is so pretty!
Making snow is messy business!
We signed our work of art as our final step, and we were finished!
Here’s my finished project.
One gal in the class just couldn't step back from her painting enough to see that she was doing a fantastic job, so Billy put her painting in the frame when she was in the bathroom. The look of shock on her face when she realized that was HER painting in the frame was priceless! He then let us all put our paintings in a frame to see what they looked like. Here is mine in the frame, next to the one that we were shown at the beginning
As Billy pointed out, no two paintings will ever be the same. This is definitely evident by the picture of our class with our pictures. Same teacher, same painting to look at, this result:
Art on the Square has several types of art classes, including adult, kid and family classes for various mediums. Billy Dilkes, my instructor for the night, does a “Gallery Night Out” at least once a month, typically the 1st Monday of the month. Billy also teaches “Family Night Out”, “Saturday Strokes” and exhibits his own original artwork in the Gallery. He was a fantastic teacher, calm and reassuring to the ones who had never painted before as he was to those of us with experience. All in all, he was great!
If you have ever had the desire to be creative, give “GalleryNight Out” or one of the other classes a try! I promise you that you can paint with Billy’s help, and you will be amazed at what you have accomplished when you are finished. I’ll be back in April for another “GalleryNight Out”- the office bathroom needs something, and I think the dragonfly masterpiece I will create (with Billy’s help, of course!) will be just the thing!
*The Author's class fee was paid for by the Decatur County Tourism Board- www.visitgreensburg.com