“Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful or to discover something that is true.” ~ William Ralph Inge

I don’t know about you or how you feel about an extended quarantine that just seems to go on indefinitely. A lot of people are antsy, I guess. Marching around with signs and whole states opening early and whatnot.

I’m at my sister’s house till the end of it. We weren’t raised to be bored. Ever.

In our house growing up, if we told Mom we were bored, she’d assign us some dreadful task. “Oh, you’re bored? Here, take the screens out of all the windows in the house and wash and dry them outside.”

Hard pass.

Learning early on how to keep ourselves busy has definitely been an advantage in present day.

Art supplies to the rescue. I brought paint, mediums, brushes, canvases and paper with me. This quarantine is giving us what we’ve needed for a while. A chance to throw boredom to the ground and stomp on its face.

Lockdown painting class

In that spirit, we decided to have painting class at least 5 nights a week. It’s mostly a loosely structured session where we cover shit for beginners. Like color mixing, paint and brush handling. Assignments. Reading outside of class, even.

I set up a temporary workspace on her dining room table. It’s wrapped in plastic sheeting and an old bed sheet over that, which is catching paint as we paint.

It will, of course, be a painting eventually.

Want to join us? Grab some supplies.

Paint. Substrate. Brushes. Mediums. Water containers. Dropcloth. Alcohol (both to drink and clean out your brushes if you’re using acrylics). Kitchen nearby in case you get hungry.

All things, check.

Day 1

On this day we spent some time prepping materials for class. Which in this case meant coating old watercolor paintings with acrylic gesso. I wanted Katie to see how the pigment particles would lift up and mix with the gesso to make a colored ground we could use in place of toning our paper.

But there’s a second thing we’re doing — turning a bed sheet into a painting.

photo of workspace after Day 1 of quarantine painting lessons

Day 2

This is the day my friend joined us via Skype so we could all mix colors together. We all had some we could use to mix dark shading colors on our way to black. I always avoid using black pigments because they’re just so dead-looking. Assignment #1 – mix black using Ultramarine blue with Burnt Sienna and Burnt umber.

Betty's workspace
Betty’s workspace after day 2
mixes of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and burnt umber
working on mixing black from Ultramarine blue, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber

Day 3

This was our day to mix as many orange shades as we could from the different reds and yellows we have. Katie and I are sticking to a mineral palette. Later we will switch and do some mixes with synthetic organic pigments to compare them with.

But for now, minerals are enough.

Betty's workspace, day 3
Betty’s workspace, day 3
detail of our workspace, day 3
detail, our workspace after day 3
mixes of red and yellow paint to make oranges
Today was “see how many oranges you can mix” day

This is really a good way to understand tint strength, also. And because I want them to develop a familiarity with pigments, we’re labeling our mixes for future reference.

Day 4

On day 4 we took a break to gesso some paper for future sessions. Sometimes you forget how much prep work you do until you do a lot at a time. But it produces the same feeling you get when you’re painting. Maybe something to do with the fact that your hands are moving and you can feel the gesso as it spreads.

Even as Katie’s deadline looms for the paper she’s writing for class, it seems to help her when she’s stuck with writing to spend an hour, if not mixing colors, then at least priming paper.

And now we need to turn the bed sheet around so some paint gets on the other end.

I have an evil plan in the works … obviously.

workspace after priming many pieces of paper
workspace after priming many pieces of paper
detail of day 4 workspace
detail of day 4 workspace

This evening we’ll see if we can knock out purple and green mixes and then we’ll move on to creating color fields tomorrow evening.

Painting class is 7-8 pm UTC-5, if you care to paint with us in the evenings. And because of my obsession about workspaces, I’m asking all participants to send (or post) photos of theirs after they’re done.

I’ve got sort of an obsession about how other people work and what their spaces look like before and after.

So if you post your workspace on social media, leave a link to it in the comments. I’d love to see it.

Oh, and because I totally Rickrolled myself this morning by accident, tomorrow’s assignment is to make 3 Rick Astley color themed abstract paintings.

You’re welcome.

Chiara Scuro

Chiara is an acrylic painter, content writer and painting consultant. She's out to chuck a Molotov cocktail at the elitist notion that it takes some innate talent to learn how to paint. Check out her blog, The Painted Pants Lady, and learn how to paint smarter.

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