Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Art Journal, Tuesday Tips & Art Tips | 7 comments

Working from life is SO important! When I say this, I’m talking to myself as much as to you. I am just starting to grasp the beautiful value of working from life! Recently, I attended the Lamplighter Guild in Letchworth State Park and studied under Lisa Mistuik. It was fantastic to learn from her and also a great chance to do some plein air painting in a completely different place.
On the third day of painting we visited a majestic gorge and falls. I think the funny part is the fact that even though I had the opportunity to paint something so beautiful as a waterfall–I chose a tree trunk with leaves in front of it and a gorge behind. Wow, right? The picture above shows the waterfall that was on my right.
It’s neat how something can strike someone so differently than it strikes someone else. After getting there, I saw this place with a purple like mist behind it and sun shining on the leaves making them lime green and just loved the effect. So after some thinking and receiving some encouragement, I decided to paint it. To decide something is sometimes easier than to do. :-)
Let’s just suffice it to say that I’m glad my art teacher was there to help me out! I had a couple pathetically horrendous thumbnail studies that helped me to realize that I didn’t “have it” right out. I love what I learned during that painting. It’s now a symbol of a neat memory of a battle with the oils and coming away with new insights. This picture shows the painting mid-process.
And I think that’s a lot of what working from life can give us. We’re forced to see everything three-dimensonally and have to make our calculations from what we see, rather than using a photograph that looses certain colors when taken and provides a 2D surface instead of 3D.
And this is something that I’m only starting to grasp and truly see the reason WHY it’s so important.
Studying from life during this week in New York and afterwards, I found that my knowledge began to deepen and my skill in the imaginative realm became a little better because I had been studying from life. In other words, I could take what I had learned and apply it to what I wanted to make up.
And I think this is a key that all of us who desire to strengthen our art skills need to grasp.

Study from life as often as possible and as much as possible to get the best possible results.

So all that said, we’re going to be launching into a little series of “studying from life” posts in the coming weeks, and I hope you’ll join me on this adventure! There will be tips, ideas and inspiration coming your way!