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Two Years As an Apprentice

I grew up drawing and painting for fun, selling my first works in high school. And, though I saw an art career in my future, I turned to dabbling with paints for three decades as I pursued other means of financing my children's education. Yet in 2020, when I committed to creating art full-time, I found myself running into visual roadblocks as I attempted to paint my world. My website is filled with a few years of my experimenation in watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and oil. These exploratory paintings of the Pacific Northwest helped me identify oil as my favorite medium and a balance of abstraction and realism as my preferred mode of expression. They also revealed a need for me to improve my drawing skills to be able to paint the natural world to my satisfaction.

With a goal of developing solid skills in realism, I embarked on an apprenticeship with master artist Jeff Hein in 2021. Under his tutelage, I am honing my skills to both see and draw the world around me. Here is an example of my newly formed skill in depicting values accurately from life. I arranged this sheet in a corner of my studio and aimed a single lightbulb at it, then spent several weeks squinting at it as I scratched vine charcoal, then various hardnesses of charcoal pencil, and finally smears of pan pastel to bring it to life on paper.

Without Jeff's mentorship, I can say that I would never have developed these skills. Why? Well, mostly, because I would not have believed that these skills could be developed. I previously thought drawings such as these were created by those with raw talent. And, because I believed such drawings could only be created by those with talent, I would not have slaved over these until I could "see" how to make them. I would not have been able to learn to see how to make them without Jeff critiquing my work, pointing out the observable errors in my drawings. His constructive approach to critiquing my work has helped me gain greater ability to critique my own, which is my ultimate goal. I want to develop an ability to picture what I want to paint in my mind's eye, and critique my efforts as I actually paint it until I have made what I feel best represents it. I'm a long way off, but I'm very happy with the strides I've been able to make so far. Let's see what new skills develop this year.

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