Mike wanted to learn how to paint having never picked up a brush in his life. He brought a book on magical realism with him and he selected one of the pictures inside - Rokin Street, Amsterdam by Carl Grossberg - and began copying it using oil paint. Not everyone wants tuition or guidance, but Mike did. The painting remains unfinished because of the interruption caused by lockdowns but Mike is eager to come back and, he says, sort out those cartoon windows on the bright yellow building in the middle of the painting.
Janet chose to copy a painting by Robert Dukes, itself based on an earlier painting by Balthus. As with Mike, Janet had never painted before. This exercise of copying from the works of others is good practice and enables immediate results. It connects students with accomplished painters, giving them a predetermined framework to build on. Janet used oil paint and it's possible to see the grid drawn in pencil underneath the paint which helped to structure her composition.
Sallie copied a portrait by Alice Neel using acrylics after having not done any painting for a 'very long time'. All the painters are made very aware of colour while painting and to try and mix accurate colours based on what they can see. Once you can see colour, then the next question is: What is the colour's tone? Tones are key to producing successful paintings because they give nuance to colour, making colours hot or cool, zesty or mild.
Georgia's next step was to paint an actual bowl of fruit but first she set about copying a bowl of fruit painted by Robert Dukes. She was encouraged to create an underpainting and carefully plotted the composition. She decided there were about five tonal shifts in Dukes' painting - dark through to light - and mixed five tones using only burnt umber which helped her get a handle on the painting. This is the second painting in oil Georgia had ever attempted.
Life drawing is fun and good exercise for artists. In a two hour session there are a number of poses lasting anything from 45 minutes to 5 minutes. Even minute-long poses can happen and those are usually a good laugh but also a really useful exercise in getting better at editing drawings - what to include and what to leave out. Some artists like to achieve a good technical likeness, others prefer a more expressive approach. Some achieve both. Everybody agrees, though, that life drawing is a great way to forget the world - or at least everything unrelated to the task at hand. When you're in the zone, it's a workout for the brain, for the eyes, for the hands. Life drawing encourages you to join up your senses and to feel absolutely present, rooted and focussed.
Print making is a recent addition to classes at North Yorks Art School. Only a linocut class is currently on offer but etching and lithography will return in the very near future. There are no plans at present to introduce screen printing.