Shades of Grey

I’m now four classes in to my oil painting class at OCAD. For starters, my teacher is amazing. I’m more than a little star struck. Not only is his work stellar, but he’s also a really great instructor. His name is Bogdan Luca. His work reminds me of waking from a really intense dream and not being sure of whether I am awake or asleep.

This year, in my own artistic journey, I’ve endeavoured to learn more about color. I feel as if I’ve finally made some real headway in that direction. Learning about colour feels like seeing the world as I’ve never seen it before – in higher resolution. At my painting class we’ve often been challenged to create grey tones that are in a sense colourless. The word grey is really a catch-all for the myriad of tones that cannot be described by any other colour reference. The world of grey can simultaneously be tinted to be brownish or reddish or bluish or yellowish – all depending on how you get to that colour mix. I finally understand why my art teacher forbade the use of black to mix colour all those years ago – because when you learn how to arrive at certain tones without black, there is a depth of colour that becomes discernable. It seems as if your eye can somehow detect the many tones within the single pigment. This world of grey constitutes a great deal of what we actually see.

The mind autofills so much of our interpretation of what we see. A wooden table appears at first to be brown – but when you pay attention to what your eyes actually see, without letting your mind interpret it for you, the truth is that the reflection of light off that table is what describes its form. Therefore what one paints is the reflection of light, married with its shadows. This is the world of grey.

Shades of Grey - no black used

Shades of Grey – no black used

Im not sure as yet how this relates to abstract painting. All of our classes have focused on still life painting.

In terms of oil painting, I’m really enjoying the medium. Unique to oils is a depth of colour rendition that is quite lovely.

I have two more classes in this course. It’s been thoroughly worth the investment of time, money and travel. Working in a studio environment this way is so satisfying. At the end of each class I feel thoroughly spent in an altogether pleasant way.

Oil Painting 101

This weekend was my first oil painting class at OCAD in Toronto. I’ll be attending classes once a week for the next few weeks. The class was extremely satisfying in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Sometimes, it’s as if my conscious mind is the last to know what my creative mind wants. I can recognize now that I’ve been craving instruction like this for a while. Over the past couple of years, as a means of broadening my artistic palette, I’ve tried focusing on different types of expression. For example, for a while I focused on drawing and painting animals. I tried a range of animals from pictures and then worked on horses from life drawing. For a period after that, I spent time focusing on versatility of colour use.

I’ve found that learning new things, and sometimes re-learning old things, is really intrinsic to creative development. I’m happy for this time, where I can focus on developing my technical painting skills afresh. Sometimes I forget how valuable it is to work on those skills – often times favouring composition or imagination, over technical ability. I suppose that’s the downside of being self taught.

Through looking at students work in the art school and listening to my professor I understood for the first time the real value of technical ability in painting. At any given moment, a person is the sum of their embodied genetics and experiences. For an artist, one’s work is no more or less than a reflection of that moment of self. The work that you make is the manifestation of that momentary distillation of self. The acuity of that expression is only possible through a marriage of perspective and skill.

On the studio side of things, at the moment, I enjoy the process of working with oils. I don’t know what it will be like, working with them on reflective pieces, since I’ve only just begun to experiment. I imagine that the longer drying time would lend itself to a different sort of process than I’m used to with acrylics. With the little I have done so far though, I really enjoy how the colours spread and blend.

More than anything, it feels amazing to be taking a class in a real art school. I know my class is not an undergrad or masters course, but to have instruction in that kind of facility, from a real professor, feels amazing.