Which type of art class is best for you

With Barry Whitehouse

Barry Whitehouse of The Artery in Parsons Street      

The Arty Bit

Which type of class is best for you?

September is here and many creative minded individuals decide that now is the time to enrol on an art course or join an art group. Many groups restart after the summer break and it is an ideal time to give a group a trial. Being an artist (or ‘dabbler’) can often be a solitary profession, especially with the rise of YouTube tutorials. By  joining a group, you immediately learn new ways of seeing and doing things and also feel that you are not alone as you meet like-minded people who also live in your area. It helps to be able to see and ask questions which cannot be so easily done online.

As well as learning new things, it is a chance for some ‘you’ time where you can be as creative as you wish and also a great way to socialise. I thoroughly recommend doing so, and we live in a very creative area where you are spoilt for choice! Think about what sort of group you want to go to (there are three sorts).

  1. Structured Classes A tutor attending the group that sets the theme of the lesson and provides a full demonstration at the start and is on hand to give advice throughout the lesson, or paints a long with you guiding you step-by-step. This type is ideal for beginners
  2. Less Structured Class There is a tutor or experienced artist on hand to give advice should you need it, but you set the pace and paint or draw whatever you wish.
  3. Self Structured Class This class is run by the group and is a tutor-less group of arty people who just meet up and paint. There is no instruction, just the help from each other.

Similarly there are classes whereby you can pay for a set course which may help you commit to learning and sticking at it, but is not ideal if you have an active and varied social life as committing yourself to a five to seven week course could mean you miss some of the lessons due to prior engagements. Other classes are more flexible and allow you to just book a single class without the huge financial commitment of a course. This means you can be free to ty different subjects and media.

Decide which sort of class is for you, or try them all out and then decide. Why not go to one close by and see what you think?


The Art Surgery

A Visual Experience Through Colour

Painting is all about colour, no matter whether it is figurative work or more abstract. Get the colours right and the work will sing, tell stories and speak to you. Understanding complimentary colour pairings and how colours work together is crucial for a painting to work. I mentioned in my article this time last year about the amount of research that was done on colour theory back in the mid 1800s by Michel-Eugene Chevraul which inspired the impressionists, abstract artists and cubists to experiment more and gain a deeper understanding of the materials they worked with.

For some artists the painting is purely about the visual experience through colour perceived by the viewer and not about the artist themselves. Artists such as John Martin and Nigel Waymouth believed all about giving such an experience in their work.

John Martin (1789 –1854) was an English Romantic painter, engraver and illustrator. He was celebrated for his typically vast and melodramatic paintings of religious subjects and fantastic compositions, populated with minute figures placed in imposing landscapes. His large paintings make a visual impact and encourages the viewer to further explore the scene.

Nigel Waymouth (born 1941) is a designer and artist, a co-partner in the boutique, Granny Takes a Trip, and one of the two-man team, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat (an influential British graphic design and avant-garde musical partnership in the late 1960s, consisting of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth. It produced popular psychedelic posters, and two albums of underground music), which designed psychedelic posters. He has since had a solo career, including portrait painting.

The ‘wow’ factor is what entices the viewer and draws them in from afar. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, or if there is anything else to see once the initial response has been made. It is that first glimpse that stops you dead in your tracks and widens your eyes. This is not only done by colour, but also great use of composition.

Complimentary colour pairings are a wonderful device to make paintings ‘sing’. Simply put, they are colours opposite each other on the colour wheel and when placed side by side help give intensity and strength to each other. Used by artists in every genre in some form – more noticeable in more abstract pieces and street art, but more subtly used in landscape paintings even by artists such as John Constable (1776-1837) who would make the greenery in his trees appear more vibrant by adding patches of red, which in turn added greater depth to his landscapes. This sort of thing had never previously been done before and is a technique missing from earlier classical landscapes.

Basic complimentary pairings are:

Red – Green

Yellow – Purple

Blue – Orange

Note that it is a primary and a secondary colour that produces these pairings. More in-depth complimentary colours are:

Yellow-Green – Red-Purple

Blue-Green – Red-Orange

Yellow-Orange – Blue-Purple

Banbury based artist Lyon Oliver has been painting for many years and his abstract paintings can be found in many high profile galleries. His current work is about creating this visual experience through colour. Juxtaposing certain hues, or layering them to create impact. Lyon works in oils and acrylics and has recently begun to give his paintings an extra dimension by using fluorescent paint which increases the visual experience. Lyon’s next step will be to enhance the experience with the use of large light boxes. His work will be on display at the Old Town Café Gallery, Parsons Street, Banbury for the whole of October.

Brush up on your colour knowledge and experiment with complimentary pairings to add  ‘wow’ factor to your own work and create a visual experience through colour.