Artwork by Naomi Segal Deitz
I was one of those kids who could draw — you know, the type who doodled all over her papers, who created her own little illustrated stories, who even drew nudes from my Barbie dolls. (That’s its own story…) I won a Jon Gnagy Learn-to-Draw kit in a TV contest. But I never thought about studying art in college, or trying to be an artist as an adult.
Until…my kids were in school. Someone who had seen me doodle asked me to create a little comic strip for a fundraiser, and when it had run its course after several weeks, I realized I didn’t want to stop drawing. I wandered into an art store for some pencils and an instruction book. That was nearly 20 years ago.
I ran a life drawing group for many years, but refused to try oil painting. In fact, I was sure I never would. It seemed so complicated — mediums! Supports and priming! Drying times! Pigments — some of them toxic! Fat over lean! Glazing vs. alla prima! Solvents! It made my head spin.
But I wanted to try to introduce some color. So I tried pastels, colored pencils, water colors, even acrylics – nothing felt like home. Finally, I bought a few tubes of oil paint and a canvas, and took them to a life session. The minute I put brush to canvas, I knew this was the medium for me.
However, it has been a stop-and-start voyage so far. Despite several years of painting, a shelf of resources, a few workshops, and some success, I still feel with each painting as if I am starting the entire learning process over. Perspective confuses me. Colors go muddy. My glazed layers don’t have the subtlety I’m seeking. My drawings work pretty well, but they get lost under the paint layers and I wonder how to proceed. I’m afraid to paint anything but faces, where I do my best work.
I want to approach the canvas with more confidence and discipline, a better sense of how to plan, and real understanding of how to use painting techniques to accomplish my goals. I have learned that some of these techniques, which are taught in the Old Masters course, help me do better work – underdrawing, underpainting with value, then slowly adding color and correcting what’s underneath. But my work is inconsistent – sometimes I can make it “speak”, while at other times I just want to throw it away.
I have done lots of reading about painting, but there is nothing like visual learning to see how something is done. The Old Masters approach seems to suit my natural style of painting, and I’d love to have this resource to help me understand and internalize the process and techniques that lead to better, more consistent results.
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