View Full Version : Taking my first class!

08-21-2013, 11:22 AM
I am so excited. Our local Cultural Center has a wonderful group of artists teaching six weeks classes in everything from watercolor, pastel to abstract art...I am taking my first pastel class with Lynn Asselta here in Florida. It's a beginner's pastel class and I cannot wait. I have been puttering for a while now and I think it's time to actually learn how to use what I have...up till know I have just been making it up as I go along, but Lynn is a wonderful artist and I will just love learning from her, I am sure.

08-21-2013, 10:32 PM
Sounds very fun and educational!

Let us know how it goes and what things you learned.

08-22-2013, 04:55 PM
Have a great time Debbie! I hope you learn a lot....doubtless you will learn that pastel is the best medium ever!

08-23-2013, 03:18 PM
Ruthie, I am already convinced that pastel is the best medium. I don't seem to want to work in any other medium. Lynn is such an amazing artist. It is uncharacteristic of me to spend extra money or time on myself or something so completely non-practical, but I know there is so much I can learn. Who knows, my work may improve!

08-24-2013, 11:48 PM
Sounds great. I attend a weekly pastel class and have really learned a lot. We went to school to learn math, etc. so taking classes are important. Have fun. Pam:wave:

08-25-2013, 06:23 PM
Debbie, I am so happy for you! Pastel is infinitely rewarding and wickedly seductive. I learn more every time I paint and love it more with every piece. That instant gratification of finishing so quickly and seeing the colors leap off the paper and sparkle, of being able to capture the light is irresistible.

You'll have a load of fun and it's not impractical at all. Pastel works paid for almost all the other mediums I ever tried or got into, because they came out fast and bold and recognizable to subject. The level where other people will buy your paintings comes quickly and from there the side money more than covers any supplies you want. This totally aside from the possibility of making a career of it - even a leisure painter reaches break-even point a lot faster than just about anything else.

Enjoy the class and don't think of it as impractical. You're bringing joy into your life in a way that will spill over on everyone around you. The world literally got more beautiful at every stage that I improved my painting. I see better and see more of its beauty. That energy and joy does come into everything else I do and makes other people around me happy too, aside from the happiness of people who've bought or been given my paintings.

Go for it, this will be rewarding for the rest of your life!

09-13-2013, 09:53 AM
Attended my first class with Lynn Asselta yesterday...Where do I begin? Well for one, I really have to try to remember to breathe!

Saw my first real pastel painting...up until now I had only seen photos and my meager attempts. I was awe struck by the beauty of the medium.

Lynn is a generous, patient teacher who teaches in a manner that is basically conversational. You just feel as if she is talking to you over a cup of coffee!

We did NOT lay a single pastel on paper yesterday. She started with some wonderful basics on composition, values and helped us develop notans from our reference photos. She did bring along a selection of pastels for us to touch and feel and also a wonderful assortment of surfaces that she uses.

She was so generous in her sharing of knowledge and talent. I was particularly delighted in her teaching style...and thrilled that she felt I got the concepts quickly and did well. She also took the time to conduct an exercise that helped us identify our "style", and worked from there to guide us in choices to use that to develop and improve our painting, starting with our thumbnail sketches and notans.

Next week we will start on our underpainting, and I can hardly wait for the week to pass!

09-14-2013, 09:50 PM
It's so wonderful this workshop is turning out to be all you had hoped ...with, it sounds, the best to come (applying pastels). I am curious about
[quote]took the time to conduct an exercise that helped us identify our "style"[quote]
What exercise did you do? I'm interested because so often when taking a workshop one is there for the methodology or doing like the instructor to get a similar result. It must be very special to, at the start, acknowledge one's own style and build upon that style or tendency.

09-16-2013, 10:01 AM
Nell, Lynn handed out copies of the Pastel Journal from years past and had us pick out 5 of the paintings in the issue that we really liked, or that "spoke" to us. Out of the 5 we had to pick the one that we identified with the most. She then looked at all five as a group for similarities. With me it was the deep contrast between light and dark. Even though I chose two photos with brilliant color and two with muted colors, the unifying element was that each painting had a strong contrast. She advised me to go home and look at my pastel box and separate out the lights and the darks and put the mid tones aside for now. Even when we went on to do the thumbnails and the notans, she made sure that there were strong contrasts in both in my finished sketches....I don't want to get ahead of the class, so I have tried not to play at home. I did pull some photos and do some more thumbnails and notans, and finally yesterday I did take some textured boards I had made and did some underpaintings using that theme of contrast and I really loved ther esults...I am so looking forward to this week's class!

09-16-2013, 07:18 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience in this class. Have fun. Pam:wave:

09-18-2013, 03:23 AM
What a cool exercise! She sounds like a very good instructor.

09-22-2013, 11:18 AM
The class this week was just as wonderful, as Lyn went through the process of different underpainting techniques. I, unfortunately, was not up to the task as I was dealing with the heartwrenching issue of having to put down my beautiful dog who was suffering from cancer that had spread to her liver. I was not very focused and even forgot to bring my reference photos and sketches with me. Lyn was just lovely about, even when all I made on my paper was a big blotchy mess. Along with being a wonderful teacher, she is also a tremendously empathetic and supportive human being. We don't have class this week, so I am hoping that for the next class I will be able to participate better. I do believe that I am going to be a better pastelist as a result of her careful, caring instruction.

09-22-2013, 03:00 PM
Debbie, so sorry to hear about your beloved dog. You're in my thoughts.

09-23-2013, 02:55 AM
Thank you for sharing your experiences with this class - it sounds awesome!

And sorry about your dog - having lost one to cancer and one to liver disease, I know only too well what you're going through. Just know you have done the right thing, however hard it seems now.

Take care,


09-27-2013, 03:08 PM
Debbie, my heartfelt condolences about your loss. Dogs and cats are family members, the love is real and that's losing someone you loved.

It sounds like your class is going great though! Very cool exercise in finding your style, choosing a personal direction. I would suggest some practicing in between even if it's just using the techniques already learned in the lessons you've been to, like sketching out lots of notans and planning paintings. You might come up with a good idea you'll want to develop later.

Also taking a very small sketchbook and something to sketch with - pens, mechanical pencil, charcoal pencil or felt tip pens - is good practice for any medium. Sketching lots of life sketches at thumbnail size improves skill at any artist's level. It hones observation and gets your hand used to daily art whatever that art is.

Of course I should take my own advice and get back to daily sketching again myself. lol - I always give other people the advice I should heed.

09-27-2013, 04:36 PM
Robert, we ended up having a class this week so I scrambled a bit the night before to do a reasonably acceptable under painting from my sketches and notans. I started in with the pastel until I felt I had the bare bones and decided to proceed in class with Lyn there to instruct me. I went home with a finished painting and a sense of great joy. She offered encouragement and advice at pivotal times and gives such great individual attention that you really don't notice that there are other students with you. My moment of joy came when she recommended just a few little strokes in the area of my painting where I was trying to capture the rising sun over the intracoastal marsh. I see that picture every morning on my way to work, and it never fails to inspire me with awe. She chose a stick from my box and handed it to me and had me put just a few little marks. When I stepped back, my mouth fell open and I think I may have jumped and down a little bit....it was exacly what I was trying to portray. A few more finishing strokes and she told me that she was very pleased with it and I should take it and frame it! I think I was on a high for the rest of the day.

Thank you for you lovely thoughts about my precious Ginger. We were together for 12 wonderful years and my house seems very empty right now. I am comforted though, by knowing that I was there to ease her pain and suffering.

10-05-2013, 03:32 PM
Hi Debbie. How's your class going? I've enjoyed your sharing. I'm starting a pastel intro class this month so I'm particularly interested in this thread. I love your teacher's technique for identifying your style. I hope mine does this!

I'm so sorry about Ginger too. Most of us have been there and empathize with just how difficult it is when we have to say a merciful but sad goodbye.

10-06-2013, 11:23 AM
Christinal, there was no class this week, as the instructor is off on a painting trip. I am currently trying to choose the subject of my next painting and am having a bit of trouble with it. I do not want to do another "green" landscape, so I am going through my photo references to find something that appeals to me. I have this problem when I paint on my own too. I don't like doing too much of the same thing, so I get stalled. When that happens I should probably be outdoors painting from life or doing quick studies to improve my skills! I am having some photos printed out today and I will choose one or two and start doing some thumbnail sketches and notans. I have discovered that good paintings do not just happen...there needs to be some planning and thought put into what I am doing to produce the best results. A painting is not just going to just magically appear at my fingertips!

I think that the planning is the most important lesson I am taking away from this class. I normally just jump in with no thought or plan and I understand now why sometimes my colors are not harmonious or my composition is lacking. I am also learning about warm and cool, complimentary colors and making marks, but the planning should come first!

10-07-2013, 03:37 PM
Debbie, here's a suggestion. Check out the Spotlight for Autumn Colors. Or take a green landscape, trees and long grass and bushes, but do it in autumn colors. Turn all the grass to autumn golds and browns, turn all the trees except the conifers to yellows and reds and oranges and browns. It's fun to change a reference and you don't need to stick to the local color in a photo to use it just to get the shapes and direction of shadows.

Remember that some autumn trees will have more than one color on them. There's several types that turn yellow but will turn orange and then red on the tips of the branches, they are the brightest and so dramatic.

10-07-2013, 08:29 PM
Debbie, I'm discovering the same thing about planning. In fact, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed about everything that has to be planned, but I keep reminding myself I'm a beginner and have a lot of mistakes ahead of me and that's okay. :D

10-08-2013, 10:12 AM
Robert, that is a great suggestion, and if it was something I was doing at home, on my own, I would definitely check out those resources. My instructor is very insistent that we only use photographs that we have taken ourselves to use a references at this class. It goes to the emotion behind our painting, and I agree with that...living in Florida, there is a limit to what you can photograph. I have lots of marshes and beach photos at different times of the day and season, but they are basically all marshes and seashore. I know, what a problem to have, right? I did go through most of my photographs and found some lovely sunrises with gorgeous pink and purple skies and some early morning shots that are very atmospheric, so I will do some thumbnails and notans of those.

I never did thumbnails or notans before..and I have to say, it makes a huge difference in my painting. Also, I enjoy just the pure pleasure of sketching. I don't draw very well, but the value sketches I am doing come out well and are encouraging that I can see the scene that I want to paint from them. I think the thumbnails too, will help when I want to do a scene, but don't want another "green" landscape. Removing the color and just having the values gives me much more freedom to be expressive with my color choices.

Christanal, I too am only a beginner and it does seem a bit overwhelming at times, but I took this class because I wanted to learn some of the technical aspects behind the painting and also how to use my pastels to get different effects, and this class has taught me that and more! It has taught me to be more thoughtful about my work and the outcome of my attempts has given me great satisfaction.

10-08-2013, 12:08 PM
Debbie, I live in Florida too so I know just what you mean about our limits. Are you familiar with Linda Blondheim's blog? She lives in Gainesville and does beautiful stuff with what I'd previously judged as "boring Florida." Very inspiring!

I'm trying to see Florida with new eyes and ended up with the photos below on a recent beach trip. The sea grapes appealed to me due to the play of lights and shadow and the other was the gray color and texture of the palms with the yellow flowers. These both intimidate me but one of these days I'm going to paint them.

I'm going to add both of these to our photo ref section as well.

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww196/partlycloudy/seagrapes.jpg (http://s719.photobucket.com/user/partlycloudy/media/seagrapes.jpg.html)

http://i719.photobucket.com/albums/ww196/partlycloudy/palms.jpg (http://s719.photobucket.com/user/partlycloudy/media/palms.jpg.html)