Laurel Street Blog

Free Art Lessons!

Posted on: April 8, 2009

I had a very (umm) colorful undergraduate career. I went to architecture school, but didn’t have the math and physics chops from my little country high school to make it all the way through the program. I loved the intense design studio, but I loathed the advanced math.

So I switched to English Literature, with a minor in Fine Art. And I went on to do an M.F.A. in Fine Art… but I was not a painter. I took two oil painting classes that were both rather free form. My first professor just said: “Come back at the end of the semester with five paintings.” My second professor held actual painting studios and would come around and talk to the students, but had no concrete suggestions about technique. At one point, I was working on a landscape and was stuck – I asked what I suppose he thought was a stupid question, “But how do you paint trees?” He didn’t have an answer for me… I was expected to just figure it out. My other drawing classes were more classical, so I did very well. But I never painted again.

And I was terrified of watercolor classes – my tight architecture training did not encourage “loose” and “wet into wet” and “happy accidents.”

Here’s an unfinished example of something I was working on after Christmas. One of my new years resolutions was to start drawing again, along with cooking at home every night. I’ve put this drawing away for a while  at the point I realized I was rushing to complete it, rather than enjoying the drawing:

THis is the first drawing I've done in probably 10 years... sorry for the poor quality of this snapshot.

This is the first drawing I've done in probably 10 years... sorry for the poor quality of this snapshot (iPhone). The drawing is unfinished, I've put it away for a while to get objective about it.

So this is the kind of thing that I do – very tight. I long to be able to be loose, have happy accidents… and maybe I will try something new.

Relax. Paint some clouds.

Relax. Paint some clouds.

This morning I spent 15 very relaxing minutes watching a free art lesson by watercolorist Sterling Edwards. Check out all the great free videos on for more. The one I watched was about clouds. It was just so pleasant to listen and watch this approachable, low key tutor showing and talking about how he makes… Clouds. I loved it. I don’t know if I’ll be making watercolors anytime soon, but he kind of took the fear of it out of me. And that was a very pleasant surprise.

4 Responses to "Free Art Lessons!"

I’m no professional, but I think your drawing is lovely :)

also, “something with chicken breasts” sounds just like my menu planning!

All I could think of when I read this was “brush brush brush brush brush” a la the guy on tv with the big hair. ; )

LOL – Bob Ross… “Happy little trees”

Nate – don’t stop!! Keep on doing what you like – that’s what counts! I think your sketches are absolutely lovely (I know, but really, they ARE)

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Laurel Street Blog

Nate and Louis

Well, hey there. I'm Nathan and this is the Laurel Street Blog. It's a place for talking about design, decor and DIY (with small amounts of snarkery snuck in). I'm a pretty restless guy who loves house projects and lives in a 150+ year old cottage on Laurel Street in New Orleans. Since the house always has something going on with it (or falling off of it) I'm subsequently blessed with a never-ending supply of Web content to share. Oh - and you can drop me a line anytime Enjoy!

Can I get a tweet up in here? Follow along @LaurelStreet

The Laurel Street Cottage

April 2009
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