I have just finished teaching a 2-week workshop at my San Francisco studio: 10 days Drawing and Painting. Enrolled to maximum capacity, we had 6 students, all dedicated and serious artists, half of whom flew in from other states to participate!
I was determined to make all that the travel and expense worthwhile, so I warned them from the start this 2 weeks would be “artist boot camp,” to which they eagerly signed on: Six hours at the studio every day, PLUS homework most of the evenings. They all accepted the challenge with good humor and ambitious energy, creating an atmosphere of energy and excitement…. stretched over many silent hours where the only sound was Pandora’s J. S. Bach station on endless play, occasionally punctuated by the…. cheerful? noises of our Mission neighborhood.
I believe that attaining facility in realist painting can only be accomplished with intense study of drawing, so we started out the workshop with a series of graphite exercises studying the essentials of proportion, value, the nature of organic form, constructing accurate ellipses, and a review of 1- and 2-point perspective. We topped it all off with a lesson on successful composition, and the students were off, creating thumbnail sketches and detailed contour drawings, designing the paintings they would work on for the remainder of the workshop.
I can tell you, here are 6 emerging realist artists who will never again paint a floppy ellipse or a screwy perspective line! With just that, I consider my job done.
But we were on to the real task on the workshop: Oil Painting! We went step-by-step through the entire process I use to create my own paintings: umber grisaille underpaintings, followed by 2 full days of “closed” monochrome grisaille. Every painting is brought to the highest level of finish in monochrome before we move onto the holy grail of: COLOR.
All the students spent the first part of each day mixing, mixing, mixing precise color strings representing the full hue, chroma, and value of each step of the form. The rest of the day was focused on a discreet area of their paintings, bringing each section to the highest polish possible for the day.
After 3 full days of painting color layers, the final day is what we have all been working towards: when the highest degree of realism attainable in oil is finally within sight, and the studio is punctuated with “ah hah” moments as each painter realizes what all the exercises and detailed under painting, layers and sweating has been for: creating sparking, stunning realistic form.
I offer a huge congratulations to all of my 6 serious and dedicated students! My method for painting is not for the faint of heart, but I think each student gained a plethora of useful techniques and concepts applicable to many styles of realism. Thank you all for being so enthusiastic, your collective energy has filled the studio with power and focus as I return to my normal quiet solitary hours there.
I am offering this workshop again in August 2011, click for details!