The Power of Positive Painting (P3)
The Philosophy Behind the P3 Method
As the title suggests, my philosophy of teaching, as well as my approach to painting itself, is positive. I encourage my students to take positive action, always moving forward in their process. My classes are proactive, developing confidence through our reliance on knowledge, rather than some mysterious force we call talent. The task before us, painting form in a convincing manner, is too often presented as possible only to those “talented” few.
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This old school approach was an attempt to weed out non-serious students by discouraging them, the idea being that the serious few would float to the top if they persevered this abusive treatment. The trouble is, this approach only worked with those who were thick-skinned enough to handle it, those with healthy boundaries firmly in place. Most artists I know simply don’t have this. So why should they suffer? Are these sensitive, vulnerable artists less deserving? Don’t these traits actually make for better, deeper artists? Or should they all just go home, defeated and discouraged, no where closer to their goal, while all the thick-skinned, cocky Turks get to have all the fun? Many still believe this is the way it should be. The cream shall rise, survival of the fittest, etc.
While it is true, we all need to develop healthy boundaries, because the world will eat you alive if you don’t, I decided years ago that I didn’t like the idea of excluding sensitive people from their creative pursuits. Why? Because I am one of them.
My goal in teaching is to take talent, an invention of the ego, out of the equation. My emphasis has always been on breaking the secret code of knowledge. Other artistic disciplines understand this quite well. If a person can’t read and write, it is not fair to expect them to publish a coherent novel. Everyone knows musicians must traintheir ear and practice diligently to achieve command over their instrument. It became clear to me that artists too could train their eye to see the subtle changes in values and develop a visual literacy so they too could begin to paint their vision. My goal was to distill the essential principles of seeing as an artist sees. The good news: it’s not rocket science. But it does require an open mind — and a mind occupied by ego is not an open mind. My solution was to empower students by sharing the ancient knowledge in an easy to understand method, so that with practice and application, they too may begin to see and paint like a master.
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Pablo Picasso
Like Picasso, who learned the rudiments of visual literacy before he found his style, my goal was to engage students in the process of achieving mastery over the visual elements, if for no other reason than to give them confidence and authority to go after their ultimate vision. Who knows where that journey might lead, right?
The P3 method is about telling the story of how light effects form, using value. Here’s the secret formula:
Light = Value = Form
Of course, there’s more to it than that, but this simple formula is the basis of my teaching. These “secrets” were no secret to the masters. Based on the Frank Reilly Method, I have adapted this amazing painting system to meet the needs of modern realists. Since 1983, P3 participants have been exploring value-based “light on form” painting methods to create expressive, colorful, accurate professional level fine art. It gives me great satisfaction to say many of my students have gone on to to bigger and better careers than I.
If you like/don’t like or want to add your thoughts to the conversation, I encourage you to comment. Also, you may want to get a copy of Point of Art – Second Edition, or download it today. I offer career coaching for those serious about a career in art. Don’t forget to check out The Portrait – a painting video and The Power of Positive Painting, the original portrait painting video.