Nick's Poppies - 9" x 12" - oil on canvas board - Bobbi Heath
I love teaching painting, especially to beginners. Giving someone the pleasure of learning something new and becoming proficient at it is so rewarding.
It was when I was a teaching assistant in graduate school that I realized how much I was learning while teaching. As a TA we were limited to supervising lab work and grading lab reports. But I knew then that I wasn’t really learning until I had to teach what I knew to someone else.
One point perspective from Ernest R. Norling's book, Perspective Made Easy
I’ve been teaching painting for 10 years, and in doing that I’ve learned this lesson at a whole new level. Developing a curriculum and lesson plans to introduce people to a new subject means you have to think about which concepts to cover, the order to explain the concepts in, and how to explain the concepts to people who learn in different ways.
My approach is to introduce one or two concepts in each lesson and reinforce them by walking the students through completing a painting that uses those concepts. In a recent class we learned how to make a field of flowers look like it is receding into the distance. First, I explained the concept of one point perspective as described in Norling's book, above.
Reference Photo by Nick Fewings from unsplash.com
Next we looked at the poppy field photo by Nick Fewings, see above, which I downloaded from unsplash.com, and we observed the pattern of the flowers. Then we looked at a simplified version I made to illustrate how the flowers clump together the farther away they are until they combine into a swath of red in the distance. See below.
A simplified version of the flowers receding into the distance to illustrate one point perspective
Then we started painting. I demonstrated each step and the students painted at each step. I was very impressed with the their results. Several have allowed me to show their work, see below.
Three paintings created by students in my class. Aren't they great?
And a final comment on unsplash.com. There you can find lots of beautiful photos, made available to download for free, as long as you are willing to acknowledge the photographer on any derivative work that you create, such as our paintings above. Using the site provides an example of the use of copyrights.