My First Starry Night Studio

July 15, 2013

FStarry Night Studio Paulaor those of us who are used to being art observers, it can be a little intimidating to sit in front of a blank canvas with a palette of paints. Most adults might get up and leave, thinking “why bother? It takes years of training to produce anything worth keeping. I should have started when I was younger.” Not being an artist myself, I hadn’t ever thought about trying to paint anything on my own, until I heard about classes like “painting with a twist” and the Community Arts Center’s Starry Night Studios!

Being a newcomer to Danville, I decided to jump right in and see what this town and the Arts Center had to offer. I looked at the schedule and picked the night “Mustang Sally” was being painted – she’s a really colorful gal, and it looked like something I might want to hang in my office! (Lucky for me that I signed up about a week in advance, because the class sold out the next day!)Starry Night Studio apron

On my “starry night” (last Tuesday) I arrived to find my seat labeled with my name and already set up with my canvas, paints and apron. As class started, I was surprised to find how nervous I was! The last time I had picked up a paintbrush was probably 10+ years ago, in a high school art class. My hand was shaking a little with the first stroke of paint. I could tell by some of the comments around me that several other people in the class were novices too, but the instructor, Paula Whitaker, quickly put everyone at ease.

Starry Night Studio step 1
We started by looking at the angles of the horse’s face, and sketching an outline in yellow. This was helpful, because we could go over it with the darker orange and blend any remaining outline into the yellow background.

Paula walked us through the shading of orange, yellow and red to create some dimension to the horse’s head. We blocked out a dark triangle to create the eye later.

Starry Night Studio step 2

Next came the forelock and mane, a tangle of red, purple, green and black! The purple paint was a little tricky to work with and required several coats for each strand.

Starry Night Studio step 3
The eye was probably the trickiest of all though – it required mixing the purple and white to make lavender, and one precise white dot in the pupil. Paula told us “Don’t think about it! Just do it.”

After that we added some highlights with white. Filling in the yellow background came last and took the longest, and I felt like I could have stayed at least an hour past the end of class touching and re-touching up my painting… but I finally stopped, and was really happy with my finished product!

Starry Night Studio final

Looking around the room, it was really neat to see how we had all painted the same piece, yet each one came out differently and reflected our own unique styles. It’s really no wonder these classes are so popular… I can’t wait to do it again!

Mustang Sally fb3 The whole gang, with our (mostly) finished products. (That’s me on the far left).