Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paintings from the People Working class

Below are some of the first results from our Painting People Working course here at ARThouse this fall.  In the first class we analyzed some of the photographs that students brought in of people working, looking for possible pitfalls and compositional problems.  Almost all of these photos had to be altered during the painting process in some way, such as:
  • cropping to focus on the person
  • eliminating extraneous detail and simplifying the composition
  • being aware of distracting linear elements that pull your eye right out of the composition
  • being aware that photographs do not record the values in shadows very well: the black shadows you will see in many photos are an artifact of the photography and the way the light meter reads the situation; the human eye would not see these shadows as totally black
The first assignment was to work in a "straight watercolor manner".  In other words, to use basic watercolor techniques, such as painting from light to dark, laying in background colors with large washes, and glazing to adjust values.  The student paintings below are not quite finished in some cases, but I captured a photograph of them so that we could share them with the class.  

 Near the Metropolitan   watercolor by Angela Lacy

 Clam Digger    watercolor by Barbara Scheihing (unfinished)

 Glass Blower     watercolor by Cecile Kirkpatrick

 Stone Cutter    watercolor by Deborah Cohan (unfinished)

 Life Guard     watercolor by Mimi Hegler

 The Swimmer     watercolor by Soohyun Kim (unfinished)

The Farrier    watercolor by Deanna Williford

 Washday    watercolor by Han-yin Shen

The Apprentice by Erika Jackson

Aren't these great?  People have gotten off to an excellent start!  This course is also available as an online course for only $50.  Visit the website here to register.  You can see a preview of my own demonstration painting for this first assignment on my website.  My own painting is going to be titled Teppanyaki Chef and this is how it looks so far:

For Class Two, we are working in what I call the "jigsaw style".  By this I mean that the watercolor is comprised of hundreds of small, irregular shapes that interlock together to create a unified whole.  Below is my almost-completed painting from the Class Two demonstration, titled Rainy Night Beijing.  The painting still needs to be tweaked a little to give it a stronger illusion of reality.  Up close it looks almost completely abstract, but when you step 10 feet back, everything almost falls into place!

Rainy Night Beijing by Susan Avis Murphy, AWS (unfinished)


  1. Hi Sue,
    Now THIS is a BLOG to outdo ALL other blogs...such excellence in art work to behold...Mary Whyte would be envious of this display by such talented art students! Isn't this just the most exciting presentation you have ever seen! All given credit to you and your expertise in teaching very interesting classes! Congrats!!!!!

    1. Haha--Thanks, Ruth!! I don't know about Mary Whyte being envious, but I think she would be glad to see that she has had such an influence on the art world.