There is a certain bond between Junior J and Baby J. While Junior J and Lil J tend to be fighting all the time, the big brother seems to have a soft spot for his (not-so) baby brother. Lil J can't touch his toys, but Baby J can get away with almost everything: he can pinch Junior J, take his toys, and the big brother doesn't seem to mind.
So recently, when I broached the topic of holiday art classes with Junior J and showed him the list of classes, he immediately zoomed in on the panda watercolour painting class. Why? Because Baby J is just crazy about pandas, and the big brother wanted to learn how to paint pandas, just for his little brother. We ended up going for the clay food art class instead, due to some unforeseen circumstances (you can read about the class here), but managed to book a slot for the watercolour class last week.
Like our previous experience at Artgrain Studio, this class was focused on teaching techniques to the students (which is my main motive for sending Junior J for art classes). For starters, Junior J was given a few pictures of pandas, and asked to choose two to observe and sketch. Teacher Hazel, who was running the class, patiently talked and guided him through the sketching process. He was asked to identify the shape of each part of the panda (a triangle, an oval, etc), and then built up his sketches in a small sketch book that was given to him at the start of the class. It is quite amazing how you can build up a drawing through just drawing general shapes!
He was then taught some basic techniques used in watercolour painting, as well as terms such as "flat wash" and "dabbing". I liked how Junior J was asked to practice the techniques and label them in his sketch book, since that meant he had something to refer to in the future, should he want to try out those techniques again.
He then had to "enlarge" his sketches onto a large piece of paper. As this was harder to do compared to the smaller sketches, Teacher Hazel guided him a little more. He then had to do a flat wash of colour to fill up the paper with colour.
Across the three sessions (of three hours each), he was then taught how to add layers and details to his painting, using the various techniques that he recorded in his sketch book. He painted tiny hairs on his pandas to add the appearance of texture. He sponged paint for a smudged effect.
One thing I was told by Teacher Hazel is that watercolour is a difficult medium to use, since it is a lot lighter compared to acrylic. It is unforgiving, and mistakes cannot be painted over. It takes a lot of layering to give the painting depth and detail. But if done meticulously and patiently, watercolour paintings can be gorgeous, and have that airiness that cannot be achieved with heavier mediums. I was quite impressed that Junior J managed to actually sit through the nine hours of the class, painstakingly adding dilute thin washes of paint to his paper, building up his painting layer by layer.
As Artgrain offers many different classes for their holiday programme, it was understandable that they sometimes have to run two different classes together under the same teacher. I do appreciate how the studio tries to keep their classes small, even though there are combined classes. During the class Junior J attended, Teacher Hazel had to juggle between teaching him and another student watercolour techniques, while teaching another three students for a different class. I think it was a little tricky juggling the two classes at first, since there were demonstrations and different techniques to be taught in the initial stages. However, both classes were running smoothly an hour into the first session, with students working hard at their projects. There was a lot of friendly banter between the older students (boys aged nine and ten) which Junior J enjoyed, yet Teacher Hazel was able to balance chatting with the kids while keeping everyone on task.
Again like our previous session with Artgrain, I liked how Junior J learnt many techniques in class, which he can use in future paintings. This is probably my primary motive in sending the boy for classes, since I think the creative and art appreciation aspects can be easily covered at home. I particularly thought that letting the kids record the techniques in their sketch books was a great idea!
So Junior J came home proudly bearing his panda painting after three days of hard work, and couldn't wait to give it to his little brother. He excitedly brought it into the room to show Baby J once the toddler woke from his nap.
And I guess the expressions on their faces say it all! The bond between these two really melts my heart.
Thank you, Artgrain Studio for those three enjoyable days of painting. This boy really enjoyed himself!
For more information on Artgrain Studio, please visit their website, and like their FB page for more updates on classes and promotions. If you would like to sign up for any classes, the contact details for the two studios can be found here. There are still available sessions for their holiday classes, so do check it out!
Disclaimer: Junior J was sponsored this class for purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are our own.