Recently Kim Hanson, an art teacher from Springfield School District, asked me to come do a demonstration at a local elementary school. Kim has been getting grants for a program called Art in Motion that teams up High Schoolers with elementary school classes. Kim works with the students and elementary school teachers to do an art class for the kids. The high school kids get a great learning experience with their part and the elementary school kids love it.
I started by coming to the high school, doing a demo one day with just the High School Mentors. They watched and absorbed my process. A couple weeks later I went to the elementary school and did a demo for second and third graders. The High School mentors returned to in following weeks to work on the kids own still life project. I really enjoy doing these type of in-school-residencies. I haven't had many opportunities to do them in recent years. I assume that government funding for isn't there as it used to be.
In this demonstration I used acrylic paint. I also used a photo as reference although I usually have a table with actual objects. I use oil in my own work but the kids use acrylic so I used acrylic. There has been more call for me to teach acrylic. I think because oil is associated with toxicity. I can teach solvent free and use nontoxic colors. I have heard of more people developing sensitivity to acrylic because it is a chemical where as the oil in oil paint vegetable oil. Acrylic is still less intimidating if only perceived.
I have developed a technique for working with acrylic that is different than my technique in oil. I start by painting a fairly developed monochromatic tonal study before I begin with color. I do this for two reasons. the first is that the acrylic dries fast so it is impossible to make wet adjustments. Second the colors dry darker than they are applied so they always need to be adjusted. I found that it is best to figure out the lights and darks first and then start with the color. I was able to do this entire painting in less than 45 minutes while fielding questions. It is exciting to sit down in front of an audience and try to make a speed painting. There is always the chance I could mess up.