On a recent Wednesday night, I pretended to be a little bit Winslow Homer and take a beginning watercolor class, taught by Ashley Harvey, the director of the SCERA Arts Center.
The limit of my previous watercolor experience was as a sixth-grader in Idaho Falls, where I was taught a couple of units by a teacher who felt we needed culture. I painted a lion, which found its way onto my parents’ wall for years until it was returned when I got married. (Now, it’s on a shelf in my closet.)
A good blend
I was hoping not to stand out too much as the newbie in a class that had already been going for a week. While I stood out in the smaller-than-expected class, I didn’t feel out of place. While each class member was there for different reasons, everyone was welcome and appreciated the chance to expand their artistic horizons.
There was a BYU student who was taking the class as a release from strenuous math and science classes. There was also a young wife who took the class at the suggestion of her husband so she could get a break from the stress of working full-time.
Beauty in the details
After getting a quick tutorial on preparing the palette, I joined the class in a lesson on recognizing light and shadow. Our object of beauty was a simple plastic ball you’d find in a children’s ball pit — my ball of choice was the green one closest to me — and we were encouraged to notice the subtle shadows that came from light above and to the side of the ball. How did the green reflection interact with the table? Where did the light shine on the ball?
I sketched the ball, its shadows and highlights, with light pencil before committing to color on canvas. Then, I blended color together, taking note that even a green ball reflecting light has subtle purple hues in the shadows.
A new perspective
The class ended with a transition to sketching three items — an orange, a funnel and a green bowl — in one piece. My sketch needed work, to say the least.
However, the class also brought me to another perspective that had nothing to do with oranges, pencils or canvas. It showed that even a father in his early 40s can learn, grow and create in ways he couldn’t the week before.