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This was the blog I updated regularly for a decade. I no longer update it, but I keep it live because it has a lot of valuable information.

For more recent information about my painting and teaching, please visit:

Sadie Valeri Atelier
My art school for adults and teens in San Francisco, California.

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Entries in teaching (18)


Class: Block-In Intensive

Recently I organized a full day of model auditions for my studio, where 8 models each posed for one, 20-minute session. It turned out to be a really fun, energizing day of capturing 20-minute block-ins.

I was inspired by the auditions to create a single-day intensive class on the theme: We will spend one day honing our skills for capturing accurate proportion and gesture.

The class will be one, 6-hour weekend day, I have scheduled one in April and one in May.

More info and registration information is here

I hope you can join us!



Drawing and Painting Workshop Recap

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!



Studio News: More Weekly Figure Sessions and Demos

I am excited to share with you that beginning in February I will be offering additional Figure Model Sessions and also weekly Lecture/Demonstrations at my San Francisco studio:

Weekly Figure Model Sessions

Tuesday Evenings Starting February 1, 2011
6:30 - 9:30 pm, ongoing
$70 for 4-session pose, 12 hours

Thursday Evenings Starting February 10, 2011
6:30 - 9:30 pm, ongoing
$70 for 4-session pose, 12 hours

Monday Afternoons Starting February 7, 2011
11:30am - 4:30pm, ongoing
$110 for 4-session pose, 20 hours

For more details and to register, please click here to visit my Teaching Page

Live Lecture/Demonstrations

During the lecture demos I will be sharing my philosophy and techniques for figure drawing and painting:

Mondays, 10am-11am, ongoing
Starting February 7, 2011

Thursdays, 5pm-6pm, ongoing

Starting February 10, 2011

$20 per 1-hour lecture

The Lecture/Demo is offered one hour before the Monday and Thursday Figure Model Sessions.

Reserve your space by payment in advance with check or credit card.

For more details and to register, please click here to visit my Teaching Page


Winged Victory Drawing Demo Recap

"Victory in Chalk"

Charcoal and white chalk on toned Ingres paper
16 x 20 inches

This is the sketch I did for my drawing demo at my San Francisco studio earlier this month. The evening was so much fun - I was very nervous the days leading up to it, and I wondered why I had planned such a high-stress event for myself right in the middle of my teaching semester... but once I got started talking and drawing it was a breeze!

We had about 28 guests in my studio, lots of snacks and wine, and during the breaks there was lots of mingling and a warm buzz of conversation.

I gave my condensed lecture on "Observing The Nature of Organic Form: Tapered, Spiraling, Interlocking, and Convex", which is my humble abbreviation of the amazing principles I learned from my master teacher Ted Seth Jacobs and also from his students Tim Stotz and Michelle Tully.

Thanks to everyone who came out, and extra special thanks to my mom, dad, sister and  husband who all helped me set up the studio and greet guests - I am so lucky to have a supportive family!

To be notified when I host a drawing demo again join my email list, or follow me on Facebook!


Odalisque Drawing

Mary as Odalisque
16 x 20 inches, charcoal and chalk on Ingres toned paper

I realized all the figure drawing I have done in the last year has been as demonstrations for my students, so it's been wonderful to get back to figure drawing just for myself! This was done at my weekly Tuesday evening model session at my studio. We have a great little group started, and there is still room for a couple more, hope you can join us! (see my teaching page for more info)

I am also offering these upcoming workshops:

early bird special: $600

early bird special: $600


EVENT: Live Drawing Demo May 7

Join me at my San Francisco studio for a live drawing demonstration May 7!

I'll be lecturing on classical drawing methods and demonstrating techniques for capturing accurate proportion and glowing light.

An enlightening evening for both artists and art-lovers!

For more information about the Demonstration please visit my new Events page.

Also, I have added a new Figure Drawing class to my Teaching page: Six Sundays starting May 16th. For more information about upcoming classes visit my Teaching page


Still Life Painting Workshop Recap

I had a wonderful time teaching my still life painting workshop, graciously organized and hosted by M Gallery in Florida. We painted at Susan Foster's incredibly idyllic and perfectly appointed studio.

After blogging about all of my workshops over the years, it was an amusing switch to teach the workshop myself, and have my students do the blogging! Two of my students, Loriann Signori and Deborah Elmquist, both accomplished painters themselves, wrote several beautiful posts describing the process and philosophy I teach. Check out their links and enjoy their paintings!

The challenge of running a workshop based on the way I work is to condense what is usually at least a 60-hour process, down to 15 hours of demo time for me and 15 hours of painting time for my students. Therefore, I had each artist paint a teeny tiny painting, 5 x 7 inches. Even given the Florida humidity, which unexpectedly slowed the drying time for each layer, every single artist did a formidable little painting!

I had a truly enjoyable time, and I feel incredibly lucky that "work" for me is hanging out in a beautiful studio with a highly skilled group of artist students, all eager to learn.

During the week I also had the supreme pleasure of meeting two artists I have long admired, David Kassan and Susan Lyon, both of whom were also invited to Sarasota, Florida for demos, teaching and exhibition.

Below is the demonstration panel I painted during the workshop, it's 6x8 inches:

Pencil drawing blocked-in on trace paper or mylar

Pencil drawing transferred to the panel and refined.

"Open grisaille" or sometimes called a "wipe-out": raw umber and turp

"Closed grisaille", or "dead layer" painted with grays mixed with:
flake white, raw umber, ultramarine blue.

Full color, work-in-process. Would need another week to finalize!


Study of Ward

Study of Ward
16 x 20 inches, graphite pencil on paper

This is the demonstration drawing I did during my most recent "6 Sundays" figure drawing class with 6 private students at my studio. The "moon" in the upper right corner is the remnants of my lecture on how light and shadow behave on a sphere.

We all had a wonderful time studying the figure in a long, multi-week pose under cool north light.

I am offering my next Classical Long Pose Figure Drawing class at my studio in San Francisco beginning May 16th, 2010. Please visit my Classes and Workshops page for more information.

I am also planning to set up a long pose model share, full time for 2 weeks, probably in July. If you would be interested please email me to let me know: This will be an uninstructed workshop, limited to a small group, with the option to draw or paint. More information coming soon!

Also, I leave tomorrow to fly to Florida for my opening at M Gallery in Sarasota, where I will be showing 6 paintings.


First drawing class in the new studio

I just held my first class in my new studio, a weekend figure drawing workshop. The class was a wonderful group, and we all had so much fun!

There is still space for ONE more student in my 5-week figure drawing class beginning this Sunday, an opportunity to study a long pose in my new north-light studio.

Also, I just posted registration information for my upcoming classes: "Still Life Painting" and "Drawing for Absolute Beginners".

More information at:


Studio Photos

The new studio is finally all set up! Thanks to everyone who made it to my studio warming party, if you missed it and you'd like a tour, just email me to arrange a visit.

I have been designing this studio in my mind for years, it's wonderful to get the chance to create the ideal environment for my work and for teaching students.

If you are interested in studying painting or drawing with me, please visit my Teaching Page to see the schedule for classes beginning in January. Also, sign up for my mailing list to be notified when new classes are posted.


Sterling Boat: FINAL

Sterling Boat
oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Finally finished! It ended up taking about 16 sessions over the course of a month, for a total of 68 hours, including the initial contour drawing. Thanks to everyone who has followed along the last few weeks as I posted all the stages of this painting, it been an interesting experiment to document the process so closely.

Here's a slideshow of all the stages of this painting:

Click slideshow to see it larger in Picasa

This painting will be in my March show at M Gallery in Sarasota, Florida. The show will coincide with my painting workshop, March 22-26, also hosted by M Gallery.

I've just added Still Life Painting classes to my San Francisco teaching schedule. I'm thinking about offering a drawing course for absolute beginners later in 2010, if this is something you'd be interested in please email me.

Finally, my new studio is coming together and I'm looking forward to posting photos soon, stay tuned!

Sign up for my mailing list to be notified when I post photos of the new studio, new artwork, and upcoming art classes.


New Studio, New Classes and Workshops

As many of you know, I currently work in a very tiny studio, which I affectionately call my "art pod". While it's an ideal workspace for still life, it's a bit tight for students or models, so I have known that eventually I would need to upgrade.

Well, I am excited to finally announce that after months of searching, I have found my new space: a gorgeous 500 square foot studio with north light in the heart of the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

It's in a wonderful old warehouse with hardwood floors, enormous windows, and one of those fabulous old-fashioned radiators. I am currently setting it up for ideal classical study, with a dark neutral wall color and thick draperies to control the light.

Beginning in January I will be offering Classical Realism drawing and painting classes and workshops in the new studio. Please visit my updated Teaching page for more information and to register!



I am thrilled to announce I'll be teaching two still life painting workshops in 2010!

March 22-26, 2010
M Gallery in Sarasota, Florida

June 28 - July 2, 2010
Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier in Belmont, California

Here is the course description for both:

The sensitive observation of even simple objects can yield dramatic paintings. Working in oil paint on gessoed panel, students will learn the refined glazing and layering techniques to render the most subtle effects of light. Beginning with a drawing on paper transferred to smooth panel, we will paint open grisaille, closed grisaille, opaque layering, and finally glazing to create highly refined images.

Using knowledge gained through her studies of the effects of light on transparent and reflective surfaces through her "Wax Paper" series of still lifes, Sadie Valeri will share her methods for creating powerful and sensitive paintings. More importantly, she teaches how to see and understand the structure, value, and color principles that underpin believable realism.

Click the links above to register for each workshop.

I'm also hoping to offer a drawing workshop next summer, please sign up for my mailing list in the right-hand column to be notified of my upcoming teaching schedule.


Blocking In (new wax paper series)

Wrapped Silver Goblet (in progress)
11 x 14 inches
graphite pencil on trace paper

I have a couple teaching opportunities coming up which I am very excited about: I'll be teaching drawing this fall semester to first-year MFA grad students at San Francisco's Academy of Art University, and there are plans in the works to possibly do a couple workshops next year (I'll keep you posted).

All of these opportunities are really exciting, and as I have been thinking about them I find I am "teaching" myself as I work all the time. Observing myself as I work helps me avoid problems deeper in the drawing. It's a sort of narration: At first it was non-verbal narration, simply paying attention to what I see and and comparing that to my drawing. But since I have begun teaching, that internal narration is becoming more and more verbal, as I imagine how I would teach as I draw.

I've been working the last couple days to begin a few new paintings of still life, and my first step is using straight-line block-in to establish the composition and forms.

Wrapped Bottle (in progress)
graphite pencil on trace paper
6 x 8 inches

Block-in for me is always the most stressful stage of a painting or drawing. Positioning the correct placement and shape on that blank space feels like plotting a course across the Atlantic.

I put the first few lines down and for a short while I feel like everything is going great, and then as I move into the next level of detail the errors begin to show up. And since the initial block-in is defining the whole shape with only a few lines, the errors are usually quite drastic and devastating to the design. Panic!

Beach Stone and Wax Paper (in progress)
graphite pencil on trace paper
5 x 5 inches

I tell my students that drawing well is essentially learning to control a sense of constant panic (I say that because I think a lot of us are quietly panicking in drawing class, and it helps the students know everyone else is feeling the same way, including me.)

But I try to use that panic to my advantage. The "Oh, no, it's all wrong!" feeling can plummet any draughtsman into despair and temptation to abandon the drawing (or crumple, scribble, or burn it).... But it's also a useful feeling. If we can react to the feeling with calm and acceptance, and simply take it as a reminder to stop and look, it becomes a useful tool.

My confidence in the block-in process has grown with my experience and now I know if something is wrong, if I keep my head calm and just look, I'll probably figure out the problem.

Not that I always do a perfect block-in by any means. And I certainly do not do my best block-ins when I am demonstrating in front of a group. But like any mental/emotional discipline, the more you practice, the easier it is to tap into problem-solving mode and focus, even in stressful situations.



I've just finished teaching a 6-week drawing class to 5 students, we met once a week on Sundays for 4 hours. We worked from my statue of "Winged Victory" with pencil on paper and I introduced them to the concepts I have learned from my teachers over the last few years. We all had a great time! I thought I'd share my class handouts I gave them, and also the notes I wrote up for my private painting student.

I'm hoping to teach more in the fall, if you are interested sign up for my mailing list by entering your email address in the right-side column to subscribe to my email announcements.


Teaching News

I currently have space for 1 more student in my upcoming weekly drawing class, held Sundays 1-5 at my San Francisco studio in the Cole Valley neighborhood. The course is 5 weeks and begins May 10, 2009. Email me for details at

For more information about my classes, teaching philosophy, and about my experience and background, please visit my Teaching Page.


Workshop: Classical Long Pose Figure Drawing

Learn to draw the human figure with accurate proportion, dynamic movement and convincing form. We will work from one long 12-hour pose by one model to create beautiful, classical figure drawings using graphite pencil. Careful analysis of a long pose will strengthen your drawing ability whether you are an absolute beginner or an experienced artist.

The two-day workshop is two Sundays, April 19 and April 26.

Final registration deadline is April 5, 2009

Register with 2 checks to:
$140 payable to FOSAS (workshop fee)
$25 payable to S Valeri (model fee)

Include workshop name, your contact information and a self-addressed stamped envelope for class confirmation and send to:

1032 Irving Street #520
SF, CA 94122
(This is the mailing address, not the location of the class.)

Click here for directions and more nformation

NOTE: I will also be offering private and small group drawing and painting classes during the week between the two Sundays. Email me for details: sadiej[at]


Teaching: Drawing Workshop at Sharon Art Studio

I will be teaching "Classical Long Pose Figure Drawing", a two day workshop at Sharon Art Studio here in San Francisco.

I am thrilled to be teaching at this wonderful community center, they are a great organization and have a beautiful north-light drawing studio in an historic stone building.

The class is two Sundays, April 19 and 26th.

Click here for more info