Gallery: Art Connections Gallery 123 N. Main Street on the Square in La Grange, Texas.
979-206-2222 http://www.artconnectionsgallery.com/

See additional work on my website

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Art instruction, how I got started

I grew up in a very small town, between 800 - 1000 people, in New Mexico. We had art in elementary classes but none in the higher grades. My mom was always drawing pictures on letters and the calendar. She would listen to baseball on the radio and keep score and doodle in the margins. Her youngest sister, Katherine Field, was a great cowboy artist. She drew with pen and ink and colored pencils. The few times we visited her house, it seemed to me she had a "million" pencils in her studio. I didn't spend any time in her studio, we were visiting as a family. My mom probably had no idea that she could have been an artist. She raised her children and worked full time always, it seems. She loved being outside at the ranch.

The first real painting I remember seeing was at a friend's ranch. They had a huge painting of a Spanish style house with a wall around it with flowers spilling over the wall. I was about 10, I think, and I would walk toward the painting to look over the wall, but when I got close everything blurred together, you couldn't even see the flowers. :) That really intrigued me. I didn't connect it with painting, it was more like a puzzle.

After I was grown and living on my own in Albuquerque, I saw Bill Alexander doing his thirty minute happy paintings at Winrock Mall, the first mall in Albuquerque. I hadn't discovered him on PBS yet, but it was another moment of discovery. People could make a living painting. Hmmm.

Some time after that I saw Bill Alexander on TV . Then over the years, Bob Ross, Gary Jenkins, Helen Van Wyk, Jerry Yarnell, Gary Spetz, and Stefan Baumann on the Grand View. I discovered Stefan Baumann and the Grand View on PBS about a year ago and have enjoyed the series. They have 15 minutes talking about a National Park and then 15 minutes of Baumann painting a scene. I subscribed to the newsletter and just day before yesterday received notice of Baumann's blog. I immediately added it to my reader.

I'm not sure how much I have learned from this TV instruction. I certainly learned that anyone can paint if you have the desire. I learned about how to get distance in a painting, what kind of brushes are available and how they work. I tried painting wet into wet and like it very much. They inspired me to paint and to know you can paint anything any way you want. Bob Ross encouraged imagination and artistic license. Helen Van Wyk was a great instructor on color and still life painting, she also painted great portraits. Jerry Yarnell knows his acrylics. There have been a few other artists scattered through the years using a variety of media. The PBS station here in Austin even showed classes at the community college, you could take the classes via TV and mail. They were on in the middle of the night, so I taped some of those. I enjoyed watching all these instructors and picked up tidbits of information. I have many, many of the shows on VHS tapes and use them to fall asleep at night. Now I can hardly watch a demo without nodding off. Ha.

It was in Bolivia in the early nineties that I started being a little serious about painting. I took some lessons from Yolanda Aguirre, a well known artist there. She was from the old school and we started with learning some art history. She wanted to continue for several weeks with history, then pencil/graphite/charcoal for a few months, then pastel would be introduced for color and maybe we would start oil painting in a year or so. My friend, taking the class with me, was younger than I am by 15 years or so,but we convinced Mrs. Aguirre that we were too old to spend a year on art history and that we would also be transferred in about a year. She finally agreed to a month or so of drawing and pastel color and then we got into painting. Whew. It was still slow for me, but I learned a lot from her about basic techniques.

In 1994 we returned to the states and in 1995 I took a workshop in Montana with Jack Hines and Jessica Zemsky. (Google them and see more of their wonderful work) They don't give workshops anymore. :( It was a perfect setup. We stayed at an old boy scout camp out in the mountains. We slept in cabins and ate in a dining hall, buffet style. We had life form drawing from 9 a.m. to noon. Lunch and plein air work from 1 p.m. to 4 or so. A break for your own interests, dinner about 6 p.m. and then a demo and instruction from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. I worked in oils then for my painting. I met Sue at that workshop and we have been art buddies ever since.

From then on I have taken workshops with some great pastel artists. Kathleen Cook, Terry Smith, and Bob Rohm's recent plein air class. There have been some good demos at the meetings of the Austin Pastel Society and the art guild in Bastrop. Also some odds and ends over the years.

My art education is always continuing and I hope my artwork is getting better. The best we can do is practice and give new ideas a try.

This scene a la Bob Ross/Bill Alexander I painted in front of the Gallery on main street a few years ago. A mom was telling her children, "Watch, now she will put in a mountain .. now some trees, .. water," etc. It was fun and took about 45 minutes with big brushes and oil paint. I missed the thirty minutes with all the talking. :)

I have made progress and have given a few demos at club meetings in the area. I taught a few classes to kids and teens through the art group I was in locally. I had paint along lessons at the Senior Center here. I will be having a pastel class, Introduction to Pastels, here in Bastrop on February 11 and 12 and giving a pastel demo to a group in Buda, Texas in November.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?


Joanna said...

'Sounds like a lot of *work* to me! I do like watching your art, though.

Rose Welty said...

Jo, really enjoyed reading this. Wish I could pop into your pastel class - someday!

Jo Castillo said...

Joanna, work? fun? It's all the same when you like what you are doing.

Jo Castillo said...

Rose, Who knows .. we will meet up some day. :) Thanks.

fishing guy said...

What a great painting. I enjoyed the story of your life in art. Why were you in Bolivia?

Jo Castillo said...

fishing guy, Thank you. Those paintings are fun to do, not much thinking involved. Gene, my husband worked for the Justice Department, so we lived in quite a few places. Bolivia was a favorite. The altiplano is much like New Mexico, our home state, only 5,000 feet higher!

fishing guy said...

Jo: Thanks, from the pictures I've seen of Bolivia it looks like great scenery.

Joan said...

Jo, It was interesting to hear how you got started and what/who motivated you. There are so many wonderful people to take workshops with, and I find that through the blogs and WetCanvas I've learned a lot and even more, have pushed myself to try things I normally wouldn't attempt. So you never know who you're inspiring!

Jo Castillo said...

Joan, isn't that the truth. I really appreciate the artists on wetcanvas and all the sharing of information. Artists are artists' best friends. :

Susan Carlin said...

Thank you, Jo, for sharing your story of becoming the artist you are. I remember that moment, too, when I realized one could make a living doing art. The horizon blew back about a million miles and I'm sure there were bells and fireworks. I loved reading your story!

Jo Castillo said...

Susan, Thanks for reading and sharing. You are up late,painting?? I rarely paint at night, maybe I should instead of reading blogs. :)

Bag Blog said...

Along with your wonderful paintings, you tell great stories. I always enjoy both.

Jo Castillo said...

Bag blog, Oh, thank you. Reading while off gallivanting in Scotland, no less.

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About Me

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Bastrop, Texas, United States
I Grew up in a small town , Magdalena, New Mexico. I enjoy art and the pleasure other people get from my work. I always donate some of my sales and art to charities, especially for children. That started in Bolivia with Para los NiƱos. (Link on sidebar) "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns." -- Winston Churchill


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