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Entries in Juliette Aristides (6)


Notes From Juliette Aristides' Workshop II

Trio: Two Pears and a Fig
8 x 10 inches, oil on panel

The last day of Juliette's still life painting workshop was today. I am so excited to get back to my studio and practice all the new techniques I learned! More on this pear painting at the end of this post.

Here are many of the paintings and excercises I produced during the workshop:

Analysis of a master work
Juliette distributed color copies of master paintings and had us trace over them with dry-erase markers on clear acetate to analyze the structure of the composition. What looks like a chaotic image is actually very carefully composed: It all fits within a neat, perfectly centered diamond shape.

Black and white "poster study" of a master work
Juliette had us mix 9 values of titanium and ivory on our palettes: black, white, and 7 steps between. We then copied a master painting, simplifying the major light and dark areas into flat, "posterized" areas of tone.

Still life "poster study"
Using the same flat values, we painted a quick sketch of our still-life setup. We also did these same studies with cut paper - paper colored black, white, and two shades of gray. (I don't have a picture of this). The cut paper really forced us to simplify, and did not allow "cheating" - no mixing of vaules.

Value study underpainting - Raw umber "wipe-out"
(brown paint is applied and then "wiped out" to show white canvas beneath)

Warm/Cool study
This small study was done with only raw umber, ultramarine blue, and titanium white.

Egg Tiling, about 4 x 5 inches
This was my first attempt at the technique Juliette calls "tiling". After doing a raw umber underpainting, the color phase of the painting is applied stroke by stroke, starting from the darkest dark and stacking "tiles" up to the lightest light. Each tile color is mixed on the palette and applied with a single, short brushstroke. From a distance it blends together, but up close each color note is distinct. You can see sharp edges around my tiles - bad! With practice the goal is to paint tiles that are close in value and color, with no sharp transitions. It's a veery slooow process. But actually very satisfying.

Copper Pot and Baby Onions
12 x 16, oil on panel

I described how I started this painting in a previous post. This is my first attempt applying all of the techniques in a single painting. But after a couple days I decided I had composed a painting with too many complicated elements and too-strong contrasting colors and values. I wanted to try something more subtle to practice the techniques, so I called this one "done" and moved on.

Trio: Two Pears and a Fig
8 x 10 inches, oil on panel

I spent 2 and 1/2 days on this painting. The photograph does not show all the subtle "tiling" I sweated over, but you get the general idea. Juliette encouraged me to slow down (apparently my Daily Painting practice has made me a "speed painter") and look very carefully at the transitions. She had me pay close attention to midtones, the subtle gradations between the darkest darks and lightest lights across the surface of the pears. I feel like I learned so much within this one small painting, and I am so excited to get back to my studio and try more.

Pitcher and Fruit, 6 x 8 inches

I started this painting as a last quick project today, the last day, but did not have time to finish it. But I like the composition a lot, so maybe I'll set it up at home and finish it.

These are the steps Juliette taught for creating a painting:

1. Draw the composition with pencil on paper
2. Transfer drawing to the canvas
3. Ink the major lines with an indelible fine point sharpie pen
4. Paint the whole canvas with raw umber, and "wipe out" to create a tonal underpainting
5. Let the underpainting dry
6. With full color, paint the background, ground plane, shadow side of objects, light side of objects, in that order
7. Apply color with small "tiles"
8. Paint the "least interesting" areas of the painting first - save the best for last

More various notes and tips from Juliette:

  • Practice mixing a color wheel with lots of beautiful, clean neutrals
  • Lay a note down for a color and leave it - don't over-mix.
  • Your palette tends to reflect the painting - mix the colors you will need
  • To "pump up" the light in a painting, focus on super-extending the halftones - don't focus on the darkest darks and lightest lights.
  • Look at Chardin
  • Look at Fantin Latour
  • A strong image will read well from a distance
  • Economy - solve problems using less (ie, solve an edge using a shift in color, instead of a shift in value)
  • Become rock-solid in a few simple things
  • Lump shadow shapes and light shapes, not individual objects
  • Try one bright color note in a mainly monochromatic painting
  • Copy master works, analyze for lines, arcs, value, color distribution
A few links:
Fletcher Palette
Picture Perfect Viewfinder


Notes from Juliette Aristides' Workshop

12 x 16 inches, oil on panel
Work in Progress

This is a painting I am working on in Juliette Aristides' still life workshop in Seattle right now.

As a class we started our paintings by doing a drawing and then transferring it to the canvas with transfer paper. Then we inked the drawing by tracing over the major lines with indelible sepia pen. Over the inked drawing, we did a raw umber underpainting called a "wipe out" (wiping away the brown paint with a cloth, down to the white canvas, to do a full tonal underpainting). Only then did we start with color, working from dark to light, concentrating on one area of the picture at a time.

Juliette teaches us to paint with small "tiles" of paint laid next to each other, each tile a short little brush stroke. She says I need to work on making tiles that are closer in tone and value, more sensitive and subtle. She demonstrated it for me in the white onions at the top, which is why those onions look so good!

We work on longer paintings like this one on the afternoons. In the mornings we do small exercises, like value scales and black and white poster studies and color wheel mixing. Now that I have my laptop I'll photograph some of those next week and post them.


Juliette Aristides Drawing Workshop Day 5

Charcoal & graphite on cream Rives BFK paper
Approx 19 x 22 inches

I have completed my week-long drawing workshop at the Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier. You can see the progression of my drawing and my posts about the week starting last Tuesday.

I finished my week-long drawing with an hour to spare, time I spent fiddling around and making small adjustments, which is always the fun part. I am really happy with it, even though I am more aware now than ever of what I need to do to learn more.

I really enjoyed the workshop. I think because so few people study this way, there is a real camaraderie. People have been sharing drawing tools, offering advice and being generally supportive all week. By the end, we were all exchanging email addresses and planning when we might see each other again at future workshops.

Juliette was a great teacher, her approach for executing a drawing is a method I have never been taught before. My drawing has some proportional errors still, but it is by far the most proportionally accurate figure I have ever drawn in my life. And I feel like I have new tools to apply to every drawing I do, whether in this highly detailed manner or a looser style.


Juliette Aristides Drawing Workshop Day 4

I have a lot to do tomorrow to complete the drawing, I'm a bit nervous about getting it all done in one day. The hand is what worries me the most - the contour drawing I did of it yesterday is just wrong. The model has long fingers, and I measured and measured, but I still exaggerated the length of her hand. So I'll have to completely redraw it tomorrow. Between that, the feet, the unfinished knee, and an overall polishing, there's easily 5 hours of solid work left.

I have started working into the charcoal with graphite pencil. It evens out the tones and I can get more detail, especially in the face. Pencil goes on fine, but charcoal frays the fibers.

A couple classmates have commented that I'm using the charcoal like graphite, I guess because there's not many rough charcoal strokes. It's mostly because I am battling with the paper. It has short, absorbent fibers, which fluff off the page with any amount of rubbing, so anything but the lightest touch makes the model look "hairy". Slightly frustrating, but it's all part of the learning process - I've learned to never use this paper again for charcoal.

I am still thinking a lot about what kind of artist I would be now if I had had 10 years of classical instruction already. And about what kind of artist I'll be ten years from now.


Juliette Aristides Drawing Workshop Day 3

Today was the third day of my week long drawing workshop with Juliette Aristides, and the second session of the drawing I started yesterday.

The photo above was taken about halfway through the day. You can see I completed the contour drawing of the hand and lower arm, which I left blank yesterday. The rest of the day I spent filling in the values.

I'm much more comfortable with this part of the process, I tend to think on tone instead of line naturally. But this process is still far more detailed than I usually work.

Instead of developing all areas of the drawing at once, like I have always been trained, we're being told to work on sections at a time - there's really no other way to do it. I am using vine charcoal sharpened to a fine point, almost as thin as a pencil point. And the paper is big - lots of space to cover.

Juliette instructed us to start by focusing on the core shadows (the darkest, middle part of the shadow as it falls across a curved surface) before we start filling in midtones and transitions.

The shot below is from the end of the day, you can see I've started filling in the midtones.

The hardest part of this drawing is by far the knees. They face almost directly at me. I haven't captured them believably yet, but I have two more days to try. It's tough anatomy to work out, lots of small edges of bones and tendons making their shadowy mark on the surface of the skin.

The hand is going to be hard, too. It's further along than yesterday, after I erased and redrew it about 8 times. But the tonalities will prove whether I have drawn a hand, or merely a rubber glove full of sticks and marbles.

Sorry for the bad photos.


Juliette Aristides Drawing Workshop

Approx 19 x 22 inches, vine charcoal on paper

I'm back! After weeks of house buying, packing, moving and unpacking, this week long workshop has begun just at the right time to get me back in the groove of daily art-making. Good thing, because between our cat going up the chimney, the hired movers pulling a no-show the day of the move, and being constantly surrounded by the smell of corrugated cardboard (which I hate) I've had just about enough of moving house.

We are working on a week-long drawing of a model in a single pose at this workshop with Juliette Aristides, along with some smaller exercises. Today was Day 2, but I started over with better paper than what I'd started with yesterday. The drawing above is the result of about 5 hours work today.

The approach is inspired by a traditional classical 19th century atelier method of learning to draw. So we're starting with a very careful line drawing as a base, attempting to get all the proportions as accurate as possible.

This method feels completely foreign to me. I am used to attacking the page with fistfuls of charcoal and battling it into submission by scrubbing away with an erasure to find the form. By contrast, this method feels more like spearing a fly with a needle - tiny strands flung over and over, hoping to pin some accuracy to the page.

I am enjoying myself, though, and so far I am happy with the drawing. I am looking forward to starting on the shadow values tomorrow, I feel much more comfortable with value than with line.

Juliette is a calm and patient teacher, she she teaches regularly at an atelier up in Seattle and seems very comfortable with leading a class. I found out from her bio that she is exactly the same age as me, which is daunting to say the least. But I try not to dwell on how much time I have lost and focus on what I am capable of learning today. Well, I try not to dwell on lost time, at least.

Juliette was talking today about how it used to be the norm for an artist to spend ten to thirteen years in formal study before they attempted to make unique work. I wonder what my work would be like now if I had spent that much time in formal study?

Would I have more or less of an idea of what makes a work "unique"? I am not sure "unique" exists. The most slavish copy has some of the artists' hand in it. And most "unique" work looks only like a typical product of the times a mere decade later.

I have learned that what I make never follows any sort of intention, whether to be unique or not. I make what I make, I can only do what is interesting to me. I have no control over whether it is culturally valuable or not. The only thing I do have control over is whether I make something today or not. And even that is tenuous at best.