Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Extra Credit

 I recently taught a Beginning Painting class at Chatfield College in St. Martin, Ohio. I had a great time working with the students, most of whom had no experience with drawing or painting. It was very much a beginner course. There were a few students that needed to do some extra credit to make up for a missed class. I would generally just have them come in during the week to work on their paintings to make up the day. One student asked if she could write an essay about the class. I said, "Sure if I can post it on my blog." 

I offered a few suggestions for the essay, but just asked that she write about the class and its affect on her life. I think she did a great job on the essay- especially all the nice things she said about me.

I am finally just getting around to posting the essay now. I did a bit of editing and correcting on the essay- corrections are in italics.
The big change I did was to correct to spelling of my name- a grand mistake that I thought should have kept her from getting her diploma, but I decided to be nice and allow it.
Plus, as I said, she wrote a lot of nice things about me in this essay.

Crystal's still life painting in process.

Beginning to Paint

by Crystal Komala

Signing up for beginning painting with Richard Luschek started out as just a class to mark off my degree transcript. Contemplating between that and Art History, I decided hands on experience would be better than any sort of ‘history lesson’. Besides, I thought, it’s not like this guy is actually going to expect me to “paint”.
A couple weeks into the class  Luschek expressed his passionate dislike toward using photographs as a means to painting.  Telling us that there is no way a flat photograph can look as real as a painting. ‘This guy has lost his marbles’ I thought to myself, ‘I have been to an Art museum and I’ve never seen a piece that could even begin to put a camera shot to shame.’  Luschek informed us that we would be painting a still life scene, and we would be working on it for, what happened to be about 10 weeks. I thought this was totally unnecessary, I am excellent at coloring, in fact I can even shade with crayons – I thought for sure I would be done with this assignment early to be left twiddling my thumbs.
To my astonishment I was only given a few colors, expected to ‘mix’ the other shades I needed. Still confident in my coloring abilities I headed toward my setup, and began to stare at the blank canvas. None of the colors I needed were on my pallet, not even close. And apparently sketching out the scene on the white canvas was a ‘no-no’ so I continued to stare at the whiteness of the canvas. “Don’t be afraid, just try something” said Luschek to the class, who in unison were staring at their canvas just like I was. The next instructions were “In a big squint, draw what you see.”
After a long time of squinting and certain I had encouraged the start of my crows feet, I began to understand what he was trying to get across. I needed to see the whole picture, not to concentrate on the text on the box I was painting, or the flowers on the vase. I thought I was beginning to really get somewhere when Luschek came over to my painting and painted through the vase, and the table (which were roughly the same shade, a beige color). Mid-panic, He insisted that I wasn’t drawing what I was seeing.  I knew for certain he was wrong, so I interjected “No, I’m drawing a vase, sitting on a table.” He chuckled and spoke louder, as if to inform the rest of the class of this common error. I learned not to draw what my brain thinks that I see, but what my eyes tell me I see. No shade difference in the vase and the table would mean that my eyes would not be able to differentiate between the two.  To say that I fully exercised this ‘technique’ would be false, but I began to paint differently,drawing shapes and not objects.
About this time, when I’m really feeling confident in my abilities  Luschek brings in a painting he ‘threw together’. Amazed I looked at the painting from all different angels. It looked so lifelike! The dimensions, the shadowing, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Forget the Picasso garbage I saw in the Cincinnati Art Museum; I couldn’t decide if that man was an un-learned child or a crazy adult. Paintings like Luschek's…this was art.
I developed a sense of respect for the many paintings I had seen throughout my life. Along with the one I was painting myself; class after class new things would appear to be wrong to me, demanding my undivided attention. Brushstroke by brushstroke I managed to mold the picture into a similar scene of my still life sitting on the table. Each class I would need a little something different from  Luschek- help with a shade,  painting an angle, creating a shape, etc. You would think all the talent bottled up inside one man would cause him to be arrogant and judgmental of students like myself who didn’t know a Monet from a Rembrandt. Although,  Luschek always offered a different way to view the problem you were trying to paint. Never offering false hope, or comments on a rough-looking painting just to build your spirits, he just encouraged that this was our first time painting and “you don’t make music the first day”.
Not only was I developing a new way of viewing the very life around me, but I caught myself glancing at a flower, a sunset or a building and thinking “that would be so great to paint” sometimes going as far as guessing what colors I would need to mix to make the magic happen.
Has the art class changed my life? Absolutely. I will never take another piece of art for granted, whether it be a still life painting, a self-portrait, or a depiction of nature it all requires talent, patience and perseverance.
Thank you Richard for taking the time to teach us what is just the beginning of this unexplored world of art. I wish you the best; you have an immense amount of talent.    

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.