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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / VENTURA

Class Helps Painters Brush Up on Scenery

July 10, 1998|JENNIFER HAMM

You can take the artist out of the studio but it takes a little work to take the studio out of the artist.

So Sally Miller teaches a small class of local painters about outdoor painting at scenic locales throughout the county. "In a classroom, you have to work from an image or a photograph to do landscape," Miller said. "When you're outside . . . it's harder to do because you have so much to look at. But it's fun. I love it and I want my students to."

They do.

"I love painting outdoors," Phyllis Luyken said. "Sally is such a good teacher, gives good suggestions but leaves you free to do your thing."

Luyken has noticed a difference in her paintings since she started taking the class, which meets Tuesday mornings.

"I'm taking more risks and working very freely," she said.

Miller retired earlier this year as an instructor with the Ventura Unified Adult Education program and quickly took up teaching her own classes. She is now into her second six-week class, painting with her students at such scenic spots as Arroyo Verde and Marina parks in Ventura.

She doesn't advertise and said her eight students are either friends or contact her through word of mouth.

Some, like Marlene Engle, took classes from Miller when she taught for the adult education program. Although Engle doesn't particularly like lugging her paints and canvas from location to location, she said painting outdoors has been a welcome change.

"You get a better feeling; the paintings are more vibrant," Engle said. "They have a different feel than when you do it in the studio."

Along with trying to focus on one landscape, the constantly changing weather elements can make outdoor painting a challenge, Miller said.

"You have difficult things to contend with, like the sun, the glare off the paper, wind conditions and sometimes bug conditions," Miller said.

That doesn't bother Luyken much, although she admits the class is demanding. "In a way, it's relaxing but it's also work," she said. "When I come home, I'm just exhausted. It's very intense."

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