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  • Writer's pictureHilda Van Netten

Working as if I Did Not Exist

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say,

"The children are now working as if I did not exist.”

Maria Montessori


They are not children.


Circling the art tables yesterday evening, it warmed my heart to see their confidence and creativity. It's been a while since I posted about our Wednesday evening artists. Here's an update.


The artist below researched images of wildflowers on her phone in class and used those images as reference for this collection. As the painting unfolded, it started to dictate to her what else it needed. She outlined everything with a thin, black marker to brighten up the painting. Then, the question was, "What do I do for a background colour?" We held up chalk-pastel pencils to the painting to see which colour worked with what colours were there. The class consensus was that it needed to be a blue. Then, the question was, "What medium to use?" Tone was tested on the side of the paper and a blue chalk pastel was settled on.



Sketching from a black & white photo makes life easier. It's always good to make your life easier. The artist below visited the Canadian Rockies this past fall. She will be painting the wonderful yellows of the aspens against the blues of the mountains soon, but for now a black & white structure is in place for her painting. I think that this picture could be framed as is and it would be wonderful.




It has been fulfilling to witness the artist below come into her own in the past few years. She now has the stamina and determination and skills to figure out how to make a likeness. That is no small accomplishment. This graphite image will be wonderful when it's done.



And, then there are those artists who take what they've learned, go home and finish their paintings, and the only way you can see them is to look on their phone. This artist has a talent of being able to really see colours. And replicate them in watercolours.




The artist below has taken a bold step in recent weeks. Prior to this, all of her learning happened while copying paintings of a wonderful west coast Canadian artist. For her latest painting, this artist has been testing out new techniques.......





..... and applying them to a painting of her family's cabin in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. She is now confident and skilled enough to be taking the bold step of trying another technique for the cabin itself. It will be beautiful. Those yellow shiny areas are masking fluid. She painted that on to preserve the smooth edges of the trees. It will be rubbed off when the background and cabin have been painted. Then, she will be able to paint the lighter tree trunks.


And, her own style is emerging.




Back to the artist who painted the zebra. She now is going bigger. She has learned to break down her painting into manageable sections. No point in being overwhelmed by a huge painting.





You are getting two views of this painting because I want you to see how she figures out her colours. She tests combinations of colours on the side of her painting and labels them. It's easy for her to come back to the painting days or weeks later and she will be reminded of just how she got that colour.




And, finally - the icing on the cake of our update - or maybe the ice cream on the cake of our update.....


The artist below has a very delicate touch. She has been learning watercolour techniques by searching for reference paintings on Pinterest. She finds the images that appeal to her and we figure out together how to paint them. Pretty soon she won't need me at all.


Your mouth is watering.




They are all almost: "working as if I did not exist.”


Be still, my heart.

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