You’ve seen her artwork in the Gallery, you’ve met her at opening receptions, and this summer you can start taking classes with Alice Kale.
Alice is a longtime Art League member and volunteer, and teaches workshops locally and even aboard a cruise line. This summer she teaches her first class at The Art League, Watercolor from Start to Finish. If you haven’t met this artist yet, here’s an introduction:
How long have you been part of The Art League?
Alice Kale: Although I studied art in college, I did not do painting. I was a sculpture and art history student. After graduation, I went out in the “real world” to make a living, and I didn’t pick up art materials again until I retired. Then, one day in 1998, I saw an Art League catalog at the YMCA, browsed through it and decided to take a class. My first Art League class was watercolor with the late Ted Betts, a very fine painter. I can’t imagine a kinder or more encouraging teacher. I have found the quality of teaching at The Art League to be extraordinary.
What’s your favorite thing about watercolor?
I love to paint in oil as well as watercolor, but watercolor has some distinct advantages. You only need paint, paper, brushes, and water, and you can work practically anywhere. It is perfect for the painter who does not have a dedicated studio space. It is also very portable. My husband and I love to travel, and I always keep a watercolor travel diary which makes a wonderful souvenir. I drop a small travel kit, a brush, a pencil, eraser, and a 5″ x 8″ watercolor notebook in my purse. With just these few things, I am well supplied and can paint anywhere.
Because it is transparent, watercolor also has some interesting properties. When working wet-in-wet, you can drop one color into another and get magical effects, unlike those in any other medium.
What’s it like teaching classes on a cruise ship?
It is fun for me as well as for the students. I’ve done it several times, most recently on the Queen Mary 2 where, since it is British, it isn’t called watercolor, it’s watercolour. Most of my students have been new painters, but occasionally I have more advanced students who come with their own supplies. It is a great learning environment because everyone is relaxed and all set to have an enjoyable time. I’ve heard from many of them after the voyage and am always delighted to hear when they have enrolled in local courses.
When you are working on a problem, it is so much more rewarding to look at the great names in watercolor, rather than going to a “how-to” book.
What can students expect from this class? Who is it for?
I’ll be teaching beginning and intermediate students. I love working with beginners. I like to start students with simple projects designed to build basic skills and de-mystify watercolor. Watercolor has the reputation of being a very unforgiving medium, but that’s just not true. Once students are well grounded in the basics, they are able to move on to more complex work with confidence.
For intermediate students, I like to help them hone their skills so that they can produce stronger work while maintaining their own identities. This involves helping them to learn to analyze their work in order to strengthen design, composition, and color handling. I don’t want students to paint like me. I love to see their individuality blossom.
I am also fond of bringing in a little art history. When you are working on a problem, it is so much more rewarding to look at the great names in watercolor, rather than going to a “how-to” book. For instance, to learn to paint water, I like to show students Homer and Sargent. I always tell my students if they don’t gain anything else from class, the next time they visit a gallery, they will see art with new eyes.