Friday, April 18, 2014

Making lots of starts.

"Put off finish as it takes a lifetime - wait until later to try to finish things - make a lot of starts." ~Charles Hawthorne
 Demo about simple shapes from my resent  Scottsdale Artists' School workshop.
Many times I don't get very far in my demos during workshops,
as I always encourage dialog between myself and my students.


One of the main ideas I teach in my workshops is not to be concerned with finishing any of the studies we do. It is in these little studies of the art principles that we as artists learn and grow. By doing these exercises it helps to break us out of habits that we have developed over many years which can cloud our vision.

I thought I would share a resent email I sent to a student interested in taking one of my upcoming workshops.

My response:

First off, I very much appreciate your comments and questions.

When I first set up my curriculum for workshops I decided to approach it from two different directions. The first is to insure that the students understand the basic elements of painting/art via short studies focusing on single elements--example the limited palette. This is by far the best way for artists (including myself) to learn and grow. The second is to allow students more time to work on one piece/pose, so they may take something home that gives them a sense of accomplishment--a more finished piece.

That being said, I have found that the students learn so much more through the shorter studies that I have found myself reducing the time spent on the longer paintings. I have always said, I would rather students take home knowledge than product. This knowledge always finds its way into our work and leads to faster improvement. I do encourage students to take photos of the model as we go, and so when the students get home they can use the studies and the photos in combination to make a larger, more complete painting.

As for the longer pose, I have to be flexible in workshops because of the model's availability. Sometimes we can't get the same model for the entire day. So I approach the longer sessions in one of two ways. Either one long pose on the last day (morning/afternoon)  or splitting the long poses up in two or more afternoon slots. One advantage of this approach is it allows me to teach my methods of working back into a dry painting.

Hope this helps.


 Upcoming workshops:

Fredericksburg Artists' School
May 5-9 2014
Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio
July 21-25 2014
360.637.4690 / 206.571.0442

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Painting Demo at Scottsdale Artist's School

Getting a likeness with no features

This is a demo I did during my week long workshop at the Scottsdale Artists' School, April, 2014.

As you can see I didn't get very far, but believe it or not I accomplished my goal. The main principle I wanted to impart was that features are not really what makes a portrait look like a specific person--it's the big shapes. During the week, this study was seen by many people and everyone who saw it knew instantly who the model was.

Students: So think about that the next time you're painting a face. Try to paint it with no features then step back and ask yourself if it looks like the person you're painting. 

 "...If you work on a head for a week
without indicating the features you will have learnt
something about the modeling of the head." --J.S. Sargent

My second goal was to work with temperature to turn the form because there was a very tight value range in the face. Meaning, other than the darks in the eyes and hair and the highlights on the skin there were only two values. So that gave me a lot of room to play with color variations that were in the same value range. Sorry the photo really doesn't show those little variations- it's a bit blurry.

The other major principle I discussed during this demo were edges and how powerful they can be in drawing the viewer's eye to the center of interest.