I have to admit I’m not one who has strayed very far off of the course when it comes to art. I started by learning how to paint realism, and in the last 9 ½ years since I picked up a paint brush, my goal has been to try to master this technique. I’m still working on it and plan to for as long as I can. I know the trend these days is to loosen up, but I really like the detail and the end product that comes from painting tight. It’s more of a challenge than anything, to see if I can do it, to see how far I can go.
Lately, I have had the desire to learn more, to take classes and to see what else I can do. The thought of learning watercolour has always appealed to me, even before I discovered oil painting. I took a weekend workshop in Spokane back in November with watercolour artist Stan Miller. He is master at his craft and someone I have come admire. He is dedicated to his art and makes no bones about it, he says if you want to be successful you have to dedicate your time to painting, which is just what he has done with his life. He is an award winning portrait artist and his landscapes are fabulous. He paints quite differently than I thought he would and considers himself a “value” painter. Perhaps this is why I like his art so much, I also consider myself a value painter.
I loved the watercolour classes and came home quite inspired, but as I settled back into my routine the watercolours have pretty much stayed where I put them. This doesn’t mean I gave up on them, it’s just that I am trying to make a living as an oil painter, so back to the oil paints I went.
The desire to learn has not left me and I hope it never does, with that in my mind and my heart I decided to take some oil painting classes from St. Albert artist Bruce Allen. Bruce has been one of my favorite artists from the very first time I saw his work. He does mostly street and house scenes and landscapes. Bruce’s technique has been inspired by the Group of Seven and I love his loose strokes and the dark outlines that show up in his paintings. Fortunately for me, I know Bruce; he is one of the resident artists at VASA, a visual arts studio and gallery that I recently become a resident artist of.
Bruce’s lessons are once a week for a couple hours. He has a very easy way about him, a great sense of humour and a huge talent. I’ve painted with him now since January and have enjoy every moment. For someone who loves to paint tight I have found that painting loose and fast is really enjoyable; I like to describe the paintings we do as little bit "wonky", it's still realism, but in the Bruce Allen way. Our first painting was finished in 3 lessons. That is huge; 6 hours to complete a painting is unheard of for me.
I wasn’t a huge fan of painting architectural paintings, but as I learn more from Bruce, a retired architect, I am finding I want to paint more buildings in his style. It doesn’t mean I am going to give up my style, but it is fun to learn more than one style of painting. He has helped me gain more confidence in speed and he has opened my eyes to more possibilities and perhaps more techniques in the future.
For now I will enjoy my lessons with Bruce, I am hoping to pick up the water brush again soon, but mostly I will be painting in my own style in oil, as I work on commissions and my new series “St. Albert” (more about that soon).
Who knew that straying from the course could be so much fun!
Photo references used courtesy of Bruce Allen (copyright owner of reference photos)
Paintings not for sale - student work by Memory Roth