Hydrangeas : Guided Painting

I love hydrangeas, they are such unlikely flowers. I was so surprised I could grow them in Queensland. One of the first drawing assignments I ever did at art college was a pencil and wash drawing of a dead hydrangea head, carefully rescued from an English autumnal garden.

My Guided Painting classes often have quite whimsical imagery and feature animals. My practice was once concerned with narrative and illustration and many of the Guided Painting images I have used over the years are based on paintings from back then.

“Hydrangeas” was my third live Guided Painting class. I wanted to have a more representational image for the class, rather the first two classes whose imagery had been stylised whimsy. The response to Hydrangeas was tremendous with a fully booked class. 

The "Hydrangeas" class is responsible for the introduction of fully written illustrated instructions. Initially, I was running Guided painting classes as paint along scenarios, I would paint, and the students would follow me. I ran " Hydrangeas" for a couple of students as a preview/ tester. One of the ladies who attended photographed every stage on her phone and then wrote down all the instructions. I had a light bulb moment, I realised that painting an original while the students followed me was logistically tricky, if not impossible. I was hampered by the layout of working in a very narrow train carriage and I could not be in two places at once, painting and helping students. Trying to produce a great image for students to follow plus helping everyone out proved to be a nightmare. So, thank you to my lovely student Amanda who gave me the idea to paint the image ahead of time, taking progress photos and then producing written instructions with illustrations for the classes. At each live class, the students are given the painting instructions as a booklet and then I am available to help everyone with one on one tips and encouragement.  As a downloadable class, you get the same instructions rewritten and often much improved.

I have learnt so much since I ran this class which became evident when I came to rewrite the original document for the online class. When I reviewed the original instructions, I realised that they were "the worst". So, I would like to apologise to the ladies who attended that class, it is no wonder the class lasted almost 5 hours. The final student left at 6.45 pm. I was so tired when I got home, I could not speak. As a result, I now start all live classes at 1 pm so that if we have anybody who likes to take their time I still go home in daylight. I look back on that original class with horror and would like to applaud all the ladies who stuck it out and went home with great paintings, despite shonky instructions, sorry ladies.

A couple of my regular weekday students painted Hydrangeas in 2016 from the original instructions and I was able to make some major edits with them, then I have repainted this class myself for the online video so now the instructions are the very best and not “the worst”.