Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekend Workshops at Gage Academy of Art, Seattle.


I want to begin by saying how much I love the workshop format because of how easily it allows students to retain the lessons of each drill-like exercise, which can often grow hazy over the course of a busy week, and apply them to each new study.
Practicing, adding to, perfecting our understanding are what we are after.
Mornings are generally filled with introductory drills and fast studies, while longer afternoon studies allow students to add refinement to their work.



When I was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine arts in Philadelphia I was very lucky to study with Rozwell Weidner who had been a student of Daniel Garber and he pushed us constantly to make tonal drawings.
Here is an example of a drawing by Garber.

And, for comparison, a detail of one of his paintings

Later, as a student/assistant in the studio of Nelson Shanks, I found that this same approach was the only way he executed his drawings.
The obvious advantage to this practice is that it stresses that one see and work like a painter.
The particular challenges of painting, starting with large shapes, closely related middle values and mostly diffused edges all need to be present and foremost in our minds whether we are drawing or painting.
While going into great detail regarding the planes of the head, light and shade, proportions, this class also helps bridge the gap between drawing and painting  and provides practical advice that applies to both.
Being a quick and concise technique I have found that it is the best way to draw in order to prepare for a painting and so any portrait painter should be familiar with the techniques.


Many of us are moved to express ourselves through the most expressive subject of all, the portrait.
Yet there are many practical difficulties, such as adequate time with the subject or a reference which is more alive and accurate than a snapshot.
In this workshop, students refine their understanding of the forms and colors of the portrait as well as build their speed byworking on fast studies in the mornings and from one long pose every afternoon.
The mechanics of the painting process as well as the plane and color changes of the subject are studied repeatedly and instructor demos begin each session.


What do you think about when you are looking at the portrait subject in front of you?
If you are like me you are probably thinking about the beauty of nature and lunch.
In this fun and informative lecture-lab two day workshop participants will draw from models, after a lecture-demo, while referring to planar and skeletal head models and diagrams.
Knowing the simple and clear shapes and patterns of what what lays under the skin is of immense use when drawing or painting a portrait.
If you haven't delved into this information yet or have been left cold by the prospect of learning it from a book then this workshop, with hands on drawing from a different models each day, might be perfect for you. 
Bones, muscles, veins, fat, the effects of age, color and tone changes and more will be covered.

Thank you.
I hope to see you there.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Summer is always an exciting time for me at Gage because it means that I get to teach intensive introductory courses in foundation subjects and also offer some unique courses that are based on some pet passions of mine.
As a student at the Pennsylvania Academy there was often much discussion of, what in the medical field is referred to as, "continuity of services".
What this most often means for an art student is that one can create a series of progressively more in-depth courses with a particular instructor which will tie together and create an immersion in certain principles or an area of expertise which must be repeated in order to be mastered.
While I wholeheartedly believe in studying art a-la-carte and taking advantage of the great and impressive variety of knowledge and wisdom available, it is a great idea, at some point, to move seamlessly throughout a set of courses taught by a particular artist that represent a total approach.
Drawing exercises which easily lead into painting and painting exercises which form a continuation of drawing are what I believe in, teach and practice.
It is great to able to offer this particular set of classes which can be taken individually or as a short series or in preparation for longer classes in the Fall.
Following is a list of what I will be teaching.

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30

In this course students will get to work on 4 foot high drawing boards to render a 2/3rds life-sized, full-length figure drawing or a life-sized, partial figure.
Here is an image of some students (in my Portrait Studio course) at work on the boards.

The approach in this course will be tonal, meaning that students will work on brown kraft (or any other tinted) paper with a combination of charcoal and grey scale pastels to render the forms of the figure completely.
Here is an image from my regular Intermediate Figure Drawing course which approximates the intended effect of this course  (although this photo depicts a 40 minute study).

 This class will include the execution of smaller, preliminary gesture, block-in and tonal studies before a beginning the large scale drawings.
The pose will last for the full length of the course (5 weeks).
The clarity and sense of form that one can achieve by drawing a figure on a large scale is considerable and if you have never tried it, I strongly encourage you to give it a try.
Numerous demonstrations throughout will cover materials and techniques as well as method and goals.

Thursdays, 9:30-12:30

In this course students cover the planes of the head, the features and working with a limited palette to a fuller palette.
Practical color theory and mixing, palette management and medium usage are covered repeatedly and throughout the course.
Frequent instructor demonstrations SHOW you exactly what the goals of each exercise are and convey a lot of information which can not be verbally given.
Here are some images of student work and student's at work from this course.

Saturdays, 10:00-1:00

A thorough introduction to drawing portraits and ideally suited to those wishing to progress on to painting the portrait.
The approach of this course is tonal with an emphasis of seeing shapes of tone and understanding form and structure.
Here are some examples of student work done in this subject.
(Student Drawings)

Saturdays, 2:00-5:00

A course which covers the strategies and most effective techniques and material usage for rendering a portrait study in a limited amount of time.
The emphasis is on alla prima painting (or painting in one go) and frequent demonstrations break down how best to approach this way of "drawing with paint".
The planes of the head, practical color theory, palette management, medium usage and rendering features are some of the major points which will be covered repeatedly.
Here are some images of students at work in this course.

Tuesdays, 1:30-4:30

As part of Summer session B at Gage (later in the Summer) this is the same course that is offered in Session A.

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30

In this class we will cover the essential information for rendering the figure from life, i.e., proportion, balance, gesture and the large, core forms of the torso, pelvis and the extremities.
The approach is simple and clear and the goal is to see from large to small, seeing large shapes in their correct position in space and adding detail.

Frequent demonstrations and hand outs which cover and review each lesson and include material for independent study make up this essential introductory course.

Thursdays, 9:30-12:30

A great chance to recreate the works of this perennial favorite and one of the most influential masters of painting.
In a clear and logical series of steps each student will be given hands-on experience in understanding and developing a copy of the work of Caravaggio.
There is no way that these ideas and techniques will not influence the way that you paint (as they have been influencing other artists for centuries) and make your work richer and more dramatic at the same time that they provide you with additional options for approaching subject matter.

Hope that you can join us!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CLASS UPDATES Gage Academy of Art, Seattle.

Here are my regular Saturday morning portrait painting in oils students at work.
The class has been going well with everyone working (so far) on classroom and homework assignments in a limited palette, to understand some principles of drawing with the paint and refining an image in successive passes.

 Here are last weeks homework assignments.
They have progressed from planar studies of the head (the Sargent and Eakins copies shown here were one part of those assignments) to rendering shapes of color within the light mass.

They are a hard working group (it is a full capacity class) and we have been making rapid progress through the fundamentals.

Additionally, the Saturday pm class, Portrait Painting Studio, has been moving along well.
This image, by Steve Momi, is a head study done in preparation for the larger works to be executed in the class.
It is not an indirect approach (glazing a monochrome under-painting),  but, in order to better understand the convenience of working on a darker ground, students work with a severely limited palette at first.
The emphasis is, at first, on rendering form before expanding to a full palette.

Here's the pose, it is being held for the full 10 weeks by Tess and students have done charcoal head studies, compositional drawings, large scale (30x40) drawings in charcoal, small head studies in oils and are about to begin working on 30x40" canvases of the pose.
We are, due to cancellations, only in our 4th week!