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FREE Art Lessons

We will begin by touching on various aspects of drawing: seeing with the artist’s eye, values, creativity, abstraction, armchair research and where to go from there. The goal is to encourage your artistic abilities. It will be a journey of discovery.

It is time for me to pass on what I have learned from my years as a lifelong painter and illustrator, because I have had a wonderful life doing what I love to do.

I have traveled the circuit as an artist, from traditional through impressionistic, from exploration of imaginative cosmic space to atmospheric-nautical with ink, paint, and pastel. In my late years I now use the computer as my art tool. I wrote, illustrated, and published my first book “Keeping Ahead of Winter” after I was eighty-years-old.

I taught oil painting at the San Mateo County Arts Council and taught drawing in my studio at the Twin Pines Art Center, in Belmont CA., now called 1870 Art Center. My work is in the permanent collection of the Peninsula Museum of Art.

Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “The feeling is what guides you to reach out for the knowledge.”

You will need:
· A medium size drawing pad (if you are just starting to draw, buy a newsprint paper pad -- it is cheaper and you will be more relaxed)
· Number 2B, 4B and 6B drawing pencils
· A pocket knife
· Ruler
· Kneaded art eraser
· Charcoal or conte crayon optional
· An Emory board or a small piece of sandpaper stapled to a piece of wood to shape the point of your pencil
· A drawing board, or use plywood or Masonite
. Masking tape to hold your paper on the board
· Fixative to protect the drawing from smearing (hair spray will do the trick)

Art materials can be bought at your local art store or online at: Dick Blick http://www.dickblick.com/ or Daniel Smith http://www.danielsmith.com/

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Lesson #11

We all see things differently. No two painting will be alike if a group of painters all painting the same thing. For example: do you see a young woman in the picture below or an old woman?

In my early years of painting I didn’t understand abstract works and yet I was an admirer of Salvador Dali. He was a good example of the necessity to understand drawing basics.

I studied abstract painting under Professor Carl Lindstrom who was teaching at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Lindstrom set up a group of different colored glass vases in front of a white curtain and threw a bright light on the vases that reflected colored rays of light on the curtain. There were approximately 100 students in the class and every painting was different.

For abstract painting you need to get into the frame of mind similar to doodling. Whatever you do viewers will see it differently than you. They may see faces, body parts, animals, ghosts or whichever way their imagination takes them. Let your subconscious have its way and you will keep improving your visual perception

Once you have doodled on your paper or canvas, check it out for balance. You may see things in it that you can emphasize and turn your abstract painting into an abstract surrealism.

Keep what you have done whether you like it or not. I have found that often paintings I did that I didn’t like were often the ones that sold first.


We draw as a means of communication. There is more to drawing than fine art. Drawing helps record what words cannot. Much is learned from drawing. We make charts, diagrams, maps, graphs, mathematical formulas and use drawing as a teaching tool.

The book “Thinking with a pencil” by Henning Nelms, (unfortunately out of print) tells of ways to use drawings in your work and in your hobby.
Not good drawing, but enough to get ideas across. Many years ago I wanted to make a dress pattern from scratch. I went to a number of pattern making classes and all of them, said to copy a ready made pattern and make needed changes. I was thumbing through “Thinking With A Pencil” and found an illustration of a pattern that showed the degrees of angles needed to make the pattern from scratch that I wanted…

For those of you who are interested in more study, there is a wide range of how-to and inspirational magazines and books whether you paint with acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastel pencil, ink or use mixed media. I recommend the following:

Books of interest for further study:
ART STUDENTS’ ANATOMY by Edmond J. Farris, Dover Publisher.
PERSPECTIVE FOR ARTISTS by Rex Vicat Cole, Dover Publisher.
COMPOSITION, A painter’s guide to Basic Problems and Solutions by David Friend, Watson Guptill Publications.
BRIDGMAN’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO DRAWING FROM LIFE, by George B. Bridgman, Weathervane Books.
THE ARTISTS HANDBOOK of Materials and Techniques, 5th Edition, revised and updated by Ralph Mayer.
THE NATURAL WAY TO DRAW, A working plan for Art Study, by Kimon Nicolaides, Haughton Mifflin Company.

Inspirational magazines:
American Artist
The Artists Magazine
Artist’s Magazine
American Artist Workshop
Free News letter: at www.arttalk.com/freeartists.htm
Free art lessons on the Internet
Learn how to sketch, draw and paint.
Oil painting techniques.

TV Art class schedules are on the Internet:
Go to Public Broadcasting/click on Arts & Drama/All channels.
Jerry Arnell, Fine Art School- acrylic
Buck Paulson, acrylic
Bob Ross, The Joy of Painting, acrylic
Gary Spetz, Painting Wild Places, watercolor
Frank Clark, Simply Painting, watercolor

It has been a pleasure working with you. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me at info@ruthsilnes.com

All contents copyright © 2008 by Ruth Silnes



Jana McBurney-Lin said...

This is wonderful. I have an artist son, and I'm going to send him your way. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ruth,
I can't believe you are 93! Seems like yesterday when you were in the chatrooms at 82. My beloved mom-in-law is 92 and active just like you. I hope I can be that way as you both run circles around me now! I'd love to take your art classes as my brother is a famous canadian artist and my son and grandaughter are both artists. Oh and my oldest daughter Kim and her youngest son. A few of my younger grandsons are showing promise too. As for me, I'm hopeless--my talent lies in writing and that's it. I have the eye of an artist but can't transpose that to my hands. I'll definitely be buying your book for children to add to my collection--I have your memoir.

Best regards,