Classwork: Painting #1

I took an online class in abstract painting during November/December 2020. I’ve never taken a painting class before and to be honest, in normal times I would never have considered it, after decades of painting and exhibiting/selling my work. I would have just kept on as I was going.

But I’ve retired from selling my art, I want to explore new things in all my art activities, and I was looking for a bit of community. A class seemed a good idea.

The class was structured with a short lecture at the beginning of class covering an abstract painter’s work and using it as a springboard to discuss abstract art principles. Then we students painted at our individual studios.

When we wanted guidance or advice, we emailed a photo of our work to the teacher. He spoke with the student and showed the painting in question on the screen for all to see and hear. In that way we could get feedback on our own work, see what other students were doing, and have some personal involvement as a class.

I really enjoyed this class. I learned and I opened my mind to some new ideas; I enjoyed being in the company of other painters; and the routine of having a set time to settle down and paint was invaluable in adding stability to my life. Thank you to my fellow students and my teacher, Kassem Amoudi.

Here’s a painting that emerged from this classwork. It’s called My Neighbors, it’s 20″ x 16″ on canvas, done with acrylics.

25 thoughts on “Classwork: Painting #1

  1. mattsnyder1970

    hum..the figure makes it less abstract to me, now i didn’t take the class but i always figured abstracts are more about putting your feelings to canvas and if something came out of it cool, but this painting reminds me of your regular style. It’s still good for what it is, and if it is truly abstract..than I’m the idiot lol

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          Think Picasso. Miro. Hockney. As well as Mondrian, Pollock, Kandinsky. There is a wide range of abstract painting and the field includes a variety of eras and movements and so on. This definition is to me a good one: Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect (from the Tate Modern in Britain) Check their site, it is fantastic: I taught a class before the pandemic which included abstract art and we studied several versions of abstreact expression (we were doing mixed media but it was the same principles). I’m very entusiastic about abstract art and how it can be freeing, emotional, and logical at the same time.

        2. mim4mail

          When I was in Art School, abstract expressionism was THE thing. We painted with such action, and physicality, and our work was large. Once out of school, few of us had studios, or studios that could accommodate large paintings. So our work got small, and stayed abstract, and expressionistic, for whatever we took that to mean. And must less physical. Interesting how/why things change for artists.

        3. Claudia McGill Post author

          I have noticed in my research for classes that I taught that Big is better. And I wondered the same thing – who can do that in the real world (8×12 ft paintings?) We had to adapt as you said – smaller works. One things that has helped me is painting more than one painting at once. I feel “BIG” but the canvases are not. It works for me because in painting, I just do big naturally. But in drawing, an 8″ x 8″ sketchbook is fine. It’s the tiny pen I use, I realize. Whole different feeling.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thaqnk you. The concept of the class was that we students would proceeed on our individual ways and the instructor would help us be better at being ourselves. It was interesting to me to see how he handled each of us differently (and our painting styles were so different!). I really liked the very individual approach and also that he did not try to impose his personal vision on us, just impart ways that we could better achieve ours. I learned a lot about how to help myself be better at my work, wheh I am on my own. I think that is the most valuable thing a person can get from a class, independence.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          Well, you know, after 25+ years of art, I know who I am, but – there is always more to find out. Plus, the online experience itself was something to learn and enjoy.

  2. mim4mail

    What a good idea to take a class bus internet. My husbands former students from his adult classes have been asking him to do an online class. Fir community, as much as his input. You painting is delightful.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I would say my number one goal was gaining some senes of community, and then I hoped to get insight into how I could better direct myself in getting what I feel or think out onto paper or canvas. I’ve got a lot of experience painting, so I didn’t want to change myself – just be better at being myself! I think the class worked out so well. I would advise anyone to take or give an online class. It was rewarding and fun.

  3. Diane

    I like that you took this class but the result is authentic to you. So many times, people take classes and their work ends up looking like the instructor’s or the examples shown. You have managed to remain you, but with added insight into new things. Wonderful!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      We focused on the paintings as shapes and forms, and the teacher was sensitive to our individual styles. I would have quit after one session if it had not been so. I know who I am now, just want to be better at doing it. This class was oriented that way. Refinements and polishing. And I learned a bit about looking at what I was doing in a painting more mindfully.

  4. Evelyn Flint

    I thought exactly the same as “marissthequilter” above – your painting has all the markings of your unique inimitable style Claudia. And it’s a fabulous painting… !

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. The instructor was focused on helping each of us improve our paintings, individually, rather than imposing his style on us. I was impressed by that, lots of teachers cannot do that. I feel the class helped me look at my work in a more detached way, to detect technique issues or whatever, without changing the style I have already got for myself.

  5. Laura (PA Pict)

    I love the painting and especially the composition with that strong tree cutting through the centre of the scene and spreading its leaves like a cloud above the houses below.

    It strikes me that one of the silver linings to this pandemic forcing us to pivot to virtual experiences is that we can find classes delivered by teachers further afield and with students attending from all over creating greater diversity. One of my sons, for instance, was able to attend an online conference for young filmmakers that he would never have been able to attend in-person.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I did 12 paintings in 6 weeks for the class, pretty much doing all the work in class time. It was very mind-focusing. As for the online opportunities, you are so right. This winter I have signed up for classes at the Smithsonian and in Pittsburgh. Never would have done them otherwise. I hope online classes like this continue.

  6. memadtwo

    I’m interested in how exactly the class works. Are you painting while the class is going on? Or is the class time just lecture and discussion and you paint on your own during the week? I can’t imagine trying to deal with the computer and also find space both physically and in my mind to work. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      It was 3 hours. The teacher did a lecture/discussion for twenty minutes or so at the beginning about different abstract painters and techniques their work exemplified. Then, the rest of the time we painted in our home studios. During this time we sent photos of our work in process. Whenever we wanted. I usually sent images up front, worked on the paintings, and about 30 minutes before the end I’d send updates so I could consider the teacher’s suggestions during the next week. I usually worked on 3-5 paintings at once. In various stages. The other students usually focused on one painting and emailed images more frequently. In all cases the teacher put our paintings on the screen for us all to see and hear the suggestions. You could listen or not if it was someone else’s work. I always stopped my work to pay attention. We could all communicate with each other but mostly we just painted. I set my laptop in my studio. So I could see the teacher and other students all the time. Felt nicer to me. Most students did the same but one did her painting in a different room from her computer and went back and forth. After 3 hours we had a little wrap up, said good bye, and signed off.

      1. memadtwo

        Thanks. Perhaps it might work when I get my paints out of storage. But by then maybe in-class teaching will be possible. I am so much in my few rooms that getting out would be a treat for me. I also have an ambivalent relationship with screens. I have trouble even watching a short video, let alone a movie. I watched TV as much as I was allowed to growing up, so I don’t know where it came from. I think I’ve become more distractable, though I’m not sure why.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          It’s not like passively watching a video. You are talking and involved, depending on the class. It takes no space other than what you already have. I do not believe I will be in a physical class with other people before 2022, if then. Therefore I am thrilled to have this chance to meet new people and do some different things. Only wish I’d understood about these things earlier. Not to mention that 2 of the classes I will be taking this winter are coming from hundreds of miles away. I never would have been able to participate in the previous life. I am reviewing other offerings, as long as I can deal with the time zones. In the end, I can sit home and wander around the rooms, or I can get “out” into the world in the best way there is right now for me. New world, new ways.

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