Review and Experience of Art School 99 in Somerville

Hi Everyone,
First, I’m sorry I missed a blog post on Tuesday. I was struggling with some writer’s block and started 3 different posts, but just couldn’t commit to one. Today, I’m back with a review of Art School 99, which is an independent art school in Somerville, MA.

I took three classes, one last Friday, then this past Wednesday and my last class was yesterday. However, this studio’s classes schedule is super flexible. I could have taken all three in a week or spread them out over a few weeks if I wanted.  It was completely up to me, which I really liked. Other art classes tend to be much more structured than at this studio.

She is planning to offer even more classes this fall, which will allow for even more flexibility.

Some of My First Impressions

First, let’s talk about some of my first impressions on Art School 99.  I talked a bit about this in my blog post last week about how I found my art class.

I was super excited for this class. It was the first time I’ve taken an art class in a ridiculously long time, so I was way over due.

My very first problem had nothing to do with the school itself, but it’s location. If you’re familiar with Somerville it’s a 15- minute or so walk from Sullivan T station (Orange line,) or a short bus ride from Central Square T Station (Red line.) I ended up using both to get there taking more than an hour each.

The first class was the only one I ended up actually being on time for, due to the long commute early in the morning.

Once I got there, I met the instructor, Alexandra, at the door and we made our way to her studio space. Her studio is only one of many at what is known as Joy Street Studios. It’s a relatively small space, I can’t imagine she is able to host any large classes.

First Class

Now, what did I actually do that first class? Honestly, it didn’t feel like much of anything.

The goal for this class was to gauge where I was skill-wise. I started with a few basic drawing exercises for composition. During this part, I felt a lot of pressure to do well, which I think prevented me from really letting my creativity run wild. So, I sat there trying to think of what to draw for way longer than I should have.

After the drawing exercises, which was probably about half the class, it was time to get out some paint. We then went over some color theory using primarily the color wheel. While I’ve been taught this many time, I did learn something new. In painting, green is a primary color, even though it isn’t one on the color wheel.

And that was the end of class one, I decided which I was going to go to next, then headed back home.

Second Class

In the second class, it felt like I did a lot more, even though I was actually there for less time because I was late.

We started this class with some basic brush technique for blending acrylic paint. Super simple, but super important.  I spent some time doing this on the canvas I brought, (you pay for the use of her materials, but canvas’ are extra) blending blue and white until the canvas was covered.

Then, she taught me what is known as glazing.  This is where you use a glaze, a translucent mixing liquid, with a very small amount of paint.

After learning these two techniques, it was time to start on my painting. I first tried to sketch something from the view in the window, but it just turned into a mess. Naturally, then I went to Pinterest for help. I found a good reference photo that wasn’t too complicated and got to work.

With the instructor’s help, we decided the colors for the background would only be white and gray (I can’t remember the specific gray, but it has a blue undertone.) I used the same canvas that I used for the exercises and just painted over my previous work.

I ended this class with a completed background ready for the rest of the painting.

Third Class

Again, I ended up being late to this one, but it was alright because I still had plenty of time to finish my painting.

This was easily my favorite class of the three. I felt I learned the most during this session, not only through instruction but by doing.   The instructor also gave me some tips and sometimes you just need the right paint color to make your life easier.

I think I had the most fun with the skirt of her dress.  There are at least 4 different shades of red I used to try to create some dimension.

One important thing I learned during this class is, painting is really all about layers. It took about three or four layers to get to the final product you see.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I felt I really learned some new skills when it comes to painting and I had some fun, which was the goal. I was a little skeptical at first, but each class got better and better, and I imagine if I return to this studio it’ll be even better.

All things considered, at normal price it is still a bit expensive considering the value of the classes. While I enjoyed my time, I’m still really glad I got the Groupon deal.

This studio has a super chill atmosphere and there isn’t a lot of pressure, which I liked. There will be even more classes offered in the fall, which gives me, even more, options if I decide to go back.

If it wasn’t so far I would say I would most likely go back, but due to where it is I’m not sure.  It will depend on when the fall classes are, I might go to one every once in a while.