As always, I ask my students to do a thumbnail sketch or to just walk around the model to find the best view so that they will think about what they are planning on painting and to find the best composition instead of just jumping in and painting what is in front of them. I want them to think first. Much of what goes into a great painting is an idea, a thought process of what they want to capture. In today's case, no matter where you stood, it was a great painting.
I try to get the students to stand as close to the model as possible so that they can see the details, yet be able to also stand back and view her from a distance. It is a small class so this isn't a problem.
Once everyone has found their spots, I fit into one for myself and begin a demo. They are free to stand and watch or to paint and glance over from time to time. Because it is a small class, I am able to paint through the entire class while keeping an eye on them. This helps for two reasons. To keep me from making the students nervous from too much attention and to remind them of the process of painting that I am experiencing by me talking through the steps that I take. I try to exaggerate values, colors, harmonies, temperatures and paint handlings to show the students how to handle these for themselves.
Today was a great day for most of the students. I love seeing the lights come on in their heads as they start to realize things. It is such a slow process, but some days things seem to click a little easier than others. While some students aren't always happy with what they have done, the failures are just as important as the winners. And I try to stress that it's not always about going home with a great painting, but going home having to great lesson. Seeing a student frustrated only means they are trying to grasp something that is only a fraction ahead of them. I know they will get it. It just takes work and perseverance!
Here are some students paintings....
Here is my demo.