Over the last few months I've been trying to teach myself to paint. I've been working through the book, Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner, doing the exercises on consistency, the color wheel, complimentary colors and mixing neutrals. The book is fantastic, it's got all the basics.
For all the art I've done in college, all the painting I did when I was in high school, I didn't learn the basics. I didn't know that you could create watercolor-like effects if you mixed acrylics with enough water. I realised I was stuck on using flat brushes when rounds give you a little more control and flexibility. I didn't know that if I used the eight most basic colors, plus black and white, I could mix every single color that I would ever need. I've learned a lot.
After completing all the foundation exercises above, I made it to the part in the book where you paint your first real painting. They show an example of a coffee mug. Personally, I wasn't so keen on painting that or the next example, an apple. It just didn't excite me. So I started digging through my stacks of photos, from the days that I shot film on a simple Olympus point and shoot.
I found a photo that looked relatively simple in terms of colors and shapes. It was a shot of a motel in Alberta.
I loved the idea of painting letters, it appeals to the designer in me, so I set up my enlarger and with a pencil I traced the basic shape of the building and the letters onto the canvas and then I sat down to paint.
Looking at the photo I realized it was perhaps more challenging than I initially thought, besides the green and red, all the colors were just subtle variations of grey, but I dove in and began mixing away. Two days and maybe four hours later, I was surprised at the result. I think I did a decent job, but what do you think?
I wasn't really trying to copy every single detail, but I did want it to resemble the photograph in it's basic shapes and colors. I think I was fairly successful, I'm happy with the shadows on the roof of the building but I can see that I could have put more yellow in the white wall of the building and lightened up the sky a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this and I am looking forward to the next one. I have a bunch of my old photos, in a similar vein as this one, that I think would make interesting paintings.
In the interest of learning, I value your feedback and would love to hear what you think. Constructive criticism welcome!