Learning Cheaply

Nov. 5, 2012

I heard some politician say he wanted to abolish public television stations.  You know, those stations that feature Sesame Street, Operas from the Met, travelogues, etc.  I’m against ending all that.  These stations advance our learning opportunities in unique ways, even for people who can’t pay big fees.  A gallery I show in recently advertised an upcoming workshop with an out of town painter who is very good.  The fee for the two day workshop was about $200, I think.  On our local public television station we can watch skilled painters explain how they do it in half hour segments each week day and the individual viewer doesn’t have to pay for it.

I’ve been watching the current series titled The Best of the Joy of Painting.  Today an artist whose last names was Yarnell began a painting that he will be working on over several sessions.  He encourages people to paint along with him but I’m not doing that.  I’m not into copying, even though in the past many artists learned by copying the works of the great masters. But I am picking up some ideas that I hope will help me finish a painting I was thinking about giving up on.

Mr. Yarnell is painting a cloudy, rainy scene and so was I.  A problem I have found with some acrylic paints is that they are transparent.  Yarnell demonstrated using gesso to make the paint more opaque and I’m going to try that.  I was also interested in the colors he was using in the sky, purple, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, some of the same colors I use, but he also added Hooker’s green, a shade I haven’t used in a while.  Maybe I should try that.

Some of the techniques he demonstrated I already know.  I think it would be intimidating to a beginner to try to duplicate Yarnell’s work, especially the way he paints so fast.  I think painting fast is good but beginners probably aren’t going to be able to do that.  But for those artists who have been painting a while and want to continue learning this is a great way to do it without paying a lot of money.

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