Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Painting Children From Life" - 6 week class at Scottsdale Artists' School begins Feb. 9, 2008

Scottsdale Artists' School has started enrollment for my 6 week Saturday morning class "Painting Children From Life" which begins on February 9th, 2008 and runs until March 15, 2008. The cost is $270. Here is the course description in the School catalog:

Children present particular joys and difficulties for the figurative painter. Painting them from life is a challenge because they are notoriously prone to move when they should be holding still for the artist. However, when life painting is done well, a portrait of a child painted from life can have an unsurpassable honesty, directness and beauty. Also, a child posing for a life portrait has a unique and unforgettable window into the creative process which might foster a lifelong interest in the arts. We will discuss lighting, clothing, posing the body and ways to keep the child engaged in the portrait process as well as proportional differences in head and body between children and adults. We will concentrate on the child's portrait head but we will also paint seated children if there is interest. We will discuss ways in which great artists of the past have painted children. Students should have considerable practice in life work before taking this class.

To enroll, please visit the School website at or call 480.990.1422.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Bad Birthday" - Oil, 12" x 16"

This one was great fun. I found out that cupcakes dry out and sag after a few days, but icing stays remarkably stable. A slightly scalloped saucer (say that fast three times) is a nuisance to paint as an ellipse; the next time I attempt one I am going to do a grisalle, I think.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"Only A Promise of Happiness"

I'm in the middle of this book right now: Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art, by Alexander Nehamas. I thought these quotes were interesting:

"Nothing is attractive, even if all it invites is contemplation, unless it sparks a desire to devote part of one's life to it." p.70

"Beauty is the object of love and, for better or worse, love can be provoked by anything, sometimes even a streak of red paint or a blue spot on the upper right-hand corner of a painting." p.74

"Beautiful things interpose themselves between me and what I already want. They give me new things to desire. They are valuable not just as guides but also as destinations[.]" p.134

Lots to think about in this book, and we haven't even gone near the "truth is beauty" theory. I'll add to this post as I read more of this book.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Drawing with David Kassan in Brooklyn

I seem to know a lot of figurative painters who work in a variety of realist techniques. I'm going to start putting some of them up on my Blog, for a variety of reasons. One, because I like them and I want them to get a wider exposure; two, because I've learned a lot from them and if you are an artist reading this, you might, too; three, if you are interested in buying art, go take a look at their sites as well as my own site; and four, because maybe now I can get them to buy me coffee or dinner.

I was in Brooklyn on a portrait commission this summer and visited the very talented David Kassan in his studio. We drew a model together and had a great time (well, I did, anyway). I'm going to see David again in 2008 when he comes to teach at Scottsdale Artists' School. He's teaching a class on the portrait head, March 17th - 21st, 2008 - go click on the Scottsdale Artists' School link to find out more about it. David is a wonderfully articulate teacher and I'm really looking forward to the class.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Photo From My Summer Workshop at SAS

I finally found the photos I took from my August 2007 workshop at . It was a three-day workshop with the title "Painting the Three Quarter Portrait Pose with Hands". I taught a version of this workshop last year at the school as well; I like teaching this class because I like the challenges of composing a painting in which you can use body language and clothing to indicate a sitter's character. But it's difficult in that each time the model gets up for a break the clothing changes slightly and so do the hands and fingers. It is compositionally difficult also because you have to decide how to crop your figure in your painting area without running out of room on your canvas. All this in three days. It's a good thing that my students were terrific and were up to the challenge.

By the way we had a terrific model as well - he played on the guitar for us during the breaks as a bonus. Here is his website:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Open Studio Model Number One

Over the years, I've had a lot of access to three-hour portrait sittings with models at Scottsdale Artists School. If I had my way, I'd be there every time they offer a session. I often have models at my own studio and I do a lot of still life work when I don't have a model around to keep myself fresh, but really, nothing beats the energy of working around other artists.

Still, this leaves me with a lot of portrait heads stacked up around my studio. I never quite know what to do with them all. I received a good tip a while back: clip them onto a coathanger and hang them up in a closet. Of course, this will only work well if you have a loose canvas to hang. Here's what I do: I cut good quality primed linen into large rectangles and tape or tack the linen onto a board and take it to open studio. That way I don't have to worry so much about centering a head and I can also crop the painting later if I choose to. If the painting turns out to be a disaster I haven't gone to the trouble of stretching it onto bars.

This is a three hour open studio painting I did a while ago and I thought I'd post it here; I'm leaving in the tacks in the photo so you can see what I'm talking about. Look at that dramatic uplighting! I think my friend and fellow teacher Tracy Schact set this one up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Teaching At Scottsdale Artists School, Fall 2007

I'll be teaching a class on painting the portrait head at Scottsdale Artist's School in Scottsdale, Arizona, this fall. Here's the information as it looks on the School's website, :

Oil Portraits From Life
Weekly 6-week Session, on Tuesdays, from October 9th - November 13, 2007
6:30pm - 9:30pm