Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 19
Hancock students' watercolor paintings featured in Santa Maria Public Library art show 'Tuesdays with Marti'
BY JOE PAYNE
It’s never too late to try your hand at art, or to return to a passion that got put on the back burner of life. At least that’s the attitude of many of Marti Fast’s students in her Allan Hancock College Community Education watercolor class, which currently has a show hanging at the Santa Maria Public Library’s Shepard Hall.
“This is an intermediate class and they walk in with a variety of skills and backgrounds,” Fast said. “So, it’s pretty neat because we do experiment with different material. I also give them themes and they respond to the themes.”
Watercolor is a fluid media, able to travel many creative avenues with ease. The range of skills and abilities in the class makes for a cornucopia of styles and outlooks that are guided by Fast each week during a Tuesday evening Community Education class. Community Education means the class isn’t worth credit and there’s no graded work.
“The community education classes are more like personal enrichment,” Fast said. “I still have high standards for all my classes, but without the grade there, is an ease that they feel and they are able to try things a little more readily.”
Creativity is a shy, finicky creature that can be scared away easily. Many of the members of the class are older adults who don’t need grades, but rather artistic guidance in a fun and safe environment.
“It’s a really neat bunch because they have lived a lot of life by then and they are really in it for themselves and their own lives,” Fast said. “It may be the first time they are cutting loose and having a good time. There is also a neat kind of family that is created, and that is a wonderful thing about fine art—you are sharing a part of yourself at a deeper level.”
Fast tries to expose her students to a variety of techniques during a semester. A paintbrush is always the go-to staple, but there are plenty of other ways to get paint on canvas.
“There are a lot of people who do some really wonderful experiments,” she said. “They play with mark-making, strings, stamping, and things you find in the hardware store or the kitchen store.”
From filling a spray bottle with paint for a perfect splatter look to actually rolling the paint up in a ball and moving it across canvas, the possibilities are endless.
“Sometimes you can use canned air to move the water around that way,” Fast said. “People come up with all kinds of ways.”
While abstraction is a great way to go with vibrant watercolors, many of Fast’s students aim more towards realism in their creations—something she is more than able to teach.
“I respect the fact that many people are very much into realism,” she said, “and if they want to do a realistic scene, I will show them everything I can to get them there.
“But other people,” she continued, “if they play a little bit and have that sense of discovery, other worlds open up and they might find new ways of harnessing their inner energy and come up with these amazing paintings with all kinds of energy and excitement.”
Fast also teaches a life drawing class for credit. Several of her Community Education students are returning students who may have taken her life drawing class or spent time in other Community Education classes.
“There are folks who will suddenly discover another medium, or maybe I will send them to other classes like a silk painting class, and they will come back,” she said, “and because they took that class they have a different sense of watercolors.”
Working with one media can cast a new light on another, which is something Fast tries to foster in her classes.
“There is almost, like, a cross pollination that can occur between art classes,” she said. “I encourage my students to take credit classes, too—take oils, take ceramics—and they will catch fire. And when they show back in my class they kind of have this whole other direction.”
The many outlooks and directions are on view with more than 60 pieces showing in Shepard Hall through the month of July at the library.
Arts Editor Joe Payne enjoys fluid media. Contact him at email@example.com.