August 5, 2015

I finished teaching my summer workshops this past weekend.  I had the opportunity to work with a number of very dedicated and talented artists.  Here, I am sharing some images, process and exercises that my students went through in the Form and Color Portrait Workshop that I taught last month at Studio Incamminati.  

A student of mine happened to have a camera with her on the last day of the workshop and lent it to me.  I was able to snap some pictures.  Although photos rarely come close to representing the artwork and are sometimes deceptive even, the experience of writing about this workshop made me realized how helpful it can be to document the process with images.  The workshop only ended a month ago.  In looking through and selecting images for this newsletter, I am surprised by how much I forget (and am reminded of that by seeing the images I took then).    

This was a 5-day workshop.  It focused on structures of the head and utilization and calibration of value-color relationship to recreate the effect of light on form.  On the last 2 days of the workshops, students brought together skills learned throughout the week and applied them on a 2-day workshop.  I did a 2.5-hour evening demo, showing how to incorporate color with form. 


Part 1 - Form Study: Open and Closed Grisaille

Each day began with a lecture and demo on the topic/exercise that we would cover that day.  Every new exercise built upon the concept obtained in the previous exercise/s.  Gradually from doing these studies, students understood the concepts I talked about and showed in the demo through their own hands on experience.  In form study, our focus was on:

  • Understanding basic structures of the head
  • Obtaining general proportions of the model/person
  • Using value relationship to recreate the sense of form

I don't have images of the open grisaille demo.  The demos above are 10-20 minutes of closed grisaille.  Image 1&2 show different stages in closed grisaille - from a simpler to more complex value system and resulting in the more 3-dimensional form of the head in Image 2.  I then proceeded to talk about major planes of the head and how value shifts correspond to plane changes in Image 3.

Part 2 - Color Study: Limited vs. Full Palette and Cool vs Warm Light Effect

Once students have a better grasp of the structures of the head, we moved into color study.  Initially we used a limited palette of 6 or 7 colors.  Above is a demo I did of a model with a fair complexion under the warm light.  When students became familiar with this palette, we moved into the full palette of around 22 colors.  Students did 2 studies of the same model/pose, one under the warm light and one under a warm light with a cool colored filter.  In this case, we used green.  For this exercise, I had demoed directly on a student's canvas to save time.  At the bottom of this newsletter, you will see images of my students' studies on this exercise.     

Part 3 - Bring it together

Usually, in a 5-day workshop, I would do a 2-3 hour evening demo, where students can see how principles taught during the workshop can be incorporated in developing a painting. Above is the demo I did of Carol under the warm light.  She has darker complexion than the model in the image shown in the previous exercise.  In the demo, in addition to getting the basic proportions and structures as accurately as possible in the time allowed, I also wanted to show the model's complexion as well as the temperature of the lighting (warm).