Tutorial 17 July – Contemporary/Modern Style

I could say we had a good time at the tutorial but we actually had a great time. We all enjoyed it immensely, although, as the tutor for the night, I was nearly pulling my hair out at times. Now I know how teachers feel! I only had four “students” as it was a cold night and much more comfortable at home next to the heater.

“Next I want you to paint the grass.” No - one’s painting the sky; one’s doing the road. “Ugh.” “You are not listening to me.” As it was a contemporary style I was showing them, things were painted in a different order. Instead of doing the sky first, then the trees etc, I wanted the trees done first and then cut in with the sky and sculpt the trees for a special effect. Hard to get people to change.

“Paint with the flat of the brush and do it in one bold stroke.” Nope - the edge of the brush with tentative little dabs. “Load your brush. The first stroke is the strongest. Don’t go back and ‘tidy’ it up, it will be weaker.”

“Paint like you own the paint factory,” I say. Nup - minute amounts of paint on.

At one stage after going from one to the other to give one-on-one instructions and talking a lot I said “shut up Michael” to myself but purposely out loud. But they answered, “no, keep talking, that’s what we are here for.” That was very gratifying.

I was standing behind Syd Lacey and I heard him say “Where’s Michael?” “I’m right here behind you Syd, watching!” I think he got a shock. It was all good fun.

It has taken me a long time to develop a loose, contemporary style and I’m still learning, so for someone to learn to do it in one night is a big ask. But you know what, they did a good job. I told them they all passed and I was very proud of them. And I really was. I know how hard it is to change old habits but I think they realise that they need to change if they wish to develop stronger work. I know I’ve been to countless lessons, countless demos and countless classes and put countless ‘miles on the brush’. It’s the only way. It doesn’t come about overnight.

Here are four paintings. Margaret Lacey’s is technically the closest, Syd’s uses bold colours, Serge’s is amazingly soft and feminine in its pinks and mauves (I love these colours) and Margaret’s – well, I told her the left hand side was like a Gauguin in the way the sky loosely flowed down then across the ground casting shadows that were far too wide for the trees but which were exquisite, loose and wonderful shapes in their own right. Sorry, I got carried away but I meant what I said.

I love looking at the four of them. Some people might think they are not good, but I say, try doing a new, unfamiliar style yourself in an hour and a half and then be critical. Remember, they are exercises, not finished paintings. Cheers. Michael Rogers


Order of paintings:

1. Margaret Lacey

2. Syd Lacey

3. Serge

4. Margaret.