In the Yellow Couch Classroom, our mission is two-fold, as we support you in developing an art-practice you feel good about and making your Art your way with results that you feel good about too. But what exactly does this mean? Is it better to focus on our technical gaps or on painting for our own enjoyment? Well, I like to say that it's "yes, and." We believe that a meaningful and sustainable art practice nurtures, supports, and encourages learning new skills while fostering personal enjoyment in the process of learning to paint.
Learning something new is hard. Acknowledging the difference between what we can make and what we can imagine and addressing our technical gaps requires humility with great courage. Learning to work at the edge of our ability is uncomfortable. For this reason, it's important to dip into the parts that come naturally to remind ourselves why we decided to learn this [hard] new thing in the first place.
It's critical not to think of art-making as either enjoyable or work. Some people might describe this as Left or Right brain thinking - the Left-brain does all the work, and the Right-brain plays. It's "yes, and". I like to think of it as Whole Brain Thinking -we're not just one side of our brain all the time. If we are not moving fluently between the analytical and the creative - the Left and Right brains - we need to work on that transition. We have a whole-brain - but the transition may not feel fluid yet. We're working on that smooth transition, the ability to move between analysis and creative work, with spontaneity to have a better, more fluid dance with the two halves of our brain.
We discover our intuitive mark-making when we are in the mindset of exploring or making random marks. Discovering something new is an enjoyable part of regular art practice. It also takes the pressure off making a finished painting. We discover our intuitive mark-making when we are not trying to make a "thing." Elbert Hubbard, American writer, artist, and philosopher, said, "Art is not a thing; it's a way." but what does this mean? When we use our materials in unexpected ways, we discover things that we like, amidst the things we don't like, which we can put our intention behind in a later planned work. We can decide how we want to improve or make a painting better or different by making "those" marks or using "those tools" on our way to a finished painting. Some people call paintings Art, but paintings result from a process, more appropriately called Art.
We are always moving between our natural, instinctual marks that tell the world, "this is me" - this is my unique way of saying this and analyzing. We need to practice moving in and out of analysis - or stepping back to ask better questions about our process to improve the result.
It's a dance between what comes naturally, what we might call your style emerging when you work intuitively, and applying the principles of good design, composition, using differences like light and dark shapes and color to draw the eye into and around the picture. Practice going between intuitive marks and analysis helps us improve our skills, and the "analysis" becomes an "intuitive" part of our process. Analogous to moving from phonetically sounding out words to reading fluently. When you come upon a new word, you go into phonetic analysis again.
As we gain experience working with these higher concepts, we build a strong foundation for hanging our intuitive stylistic marks. Without this foundation, they will be, well, a bunch of marks without interest, context, or genuine substance. Our instinctive marks and learning our preferences serve a great purpose when they cause us to think more critically about the process of making our Art-we become fluent. Let's continue developing an art-practice we feel good about and making our Art our way with results that we feel good about.