Progress in Oil

I have been taking Manu Saluja’s Intro to Portrait oil painting class at the New York Academy of Art as a crash course in oil painting.

I originally signed up to take the class with a friend. I have never taken a painting or oil painting class before and I was super intimidated on the first day. Everyone was literally already painting (I was in the afternoon session) and it was like I walked in on something.

As someone brand new, it took some time to get used to the style and pace of the class, but with Saluja’s guidance I soon settled in. I learned a ton in my first session of classes, and even produced my first oil portrait.

1st Portrait by Stephanie Echeveste, from Manu Saluja’s class (1st session)

1st Portrait by Stephanie Echeveste, from Manu Saluja’s class (1st session)

I never thought I would be able to draw, much less paint portraits in oil paint, and had thus kind of let myself believe I just wouldn’t do that kind of artwork. This class has forced me to push through those thoughts and just keep practicing and try to believe that I can do it.

Every class is hard. But as I start painting and letting go I get into a meditative state and am able to just paint. It still is extremely hard, but if I try not to judge myself too much I make progress. Slowly.

During the second session of the course I felt much more confident and at ease. I was less intimidated by all the other students because I knew the lay of the land. Saluja’s lessons were even more helpful because I had a baseline and I was not starting out from nothing as I had in the first session.

And of course, the more I learn, the more I realize how very far I am from where I want to go. But this is good — it means I am making progress and I am improving based on my own starting point. I just signed up for Saluja’s next session and I am very excited to get back into the zone and paint.

Portrait oil painting class forces me to practice something that is very hard for me, but I get so much out of it. I learn about line and shadow, form and color. I learn about style. It’s like when I had to take ballet classes when I was on dance company as a kid and teen — you can’t do modern dance without knowing how to do basic ballet.

I don’t think I could truly call myself an artist without knowing how to paint a portrait. I’m so far from being where I want to be as an artist, but at least I’m on my way.

2nd Portrait by Stephanie Echeveste, from Manu Saluja’s class (2nd session)

2nd Portrait by Stephanie Echeveste, from Manu Saluja’s class (2nd session)

100 Days of Abstract Watercolors - Day 82!

I am only 18 days away from completing the 100 day project!!!! For the past 82 days I’ve been doing one abstract watercolor a day.

It started out extremely hard and I hated everything I made, but now it’s just something I do and I am either am indifferent about the piece or I love it.

I really enjoyed this particular challenge because it’s forced me to just play around with watercolor, which is something I 'have been trying to learn. I love the way paint moves with water and I like playing around with different colors and styles. I try to limit myself to 10 minutes when making these!

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

You can purchase any of these abstract watercolors on my shop here! Just check out my Instagram account @stephanie.echeveste_art to see which day you want and then write it when you purchase!