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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.

Sadie Valeri Videos
Purchase my instructional videos for download or on a USB card.

Sadie Valeri Atelier Online
Stream all my videos for a low monthly fee, with the option to upload your work for personal feedback.

Sadie Valeri’s Personal Website
View my artwork and read my bio and CV.


Entries in video demo (15)


New Video: Block-In From Bargue Plates and From Life

Learn to Draw with Bargue Plates Part 1: Line Drawing and Proportion

Our latest videos teaching the classical drawing method of Straight Line Block-In are now available streaming in our Online Atelier.

Bargue Plates are 19th century lithographs of drawings by the painter Gerome created specifically to teach students how to draw. They are brilliantly executed and organized, and lead the student from drawing simple lines up through creating fully rendered figures, all based on casts of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture.

In the video I also demonstrate how to apply the same methods and principles to drawing 3-dimensional objects.

Join Sadie Valeri’s Online Atelier now for streaming access to all of Sadie’s videos:


Instructional Painting Video Discs are Ready to Ship

My Indirect Painting Instructional Video discs are in house and ready to ship!

Nowell and I were thrilled to pick them up from the printer this morning. It’s been a huge project and we are thrilled to hold the final product in our hands.

The video is 3 hours long, and is on DVD and Blu-ray all in one box. In it I share the entire process of creating my painting “Anchor in the Gale”. I also include all my handouts and materials lists on the disc.

For more information and to order please visit:


Video Tour of the Cast Drawing Studio

Quick tour of the students hard at work this morning on their cast drawings and paintings. Beginning students work with artificial light, advanced students create their cast drawings and paintings under natural north light. When students complete their cast work successfully they move on to live figure drawing and painting.

We are now accepting applications to the Full Time and Part Time Atelier programs, click here for more info



Instructional Oil Painting Video is Now Available for Pre-Order!

Sadie Valeri demonstrates layered, indirect oil painting in the tradition of the Dutch Masters of still life.

Video Demos

I recorded many of my paintings and compressed these 40-80 hour paintings into time lapse videos only a few minutes long so you can see the whole process start to finish.
These videos are free, but have no instruction or narration.

I also have made a detailed 3-hour DVD video for sale, complete with voiceover narration instruction, notes and printable handouts:

To order the DVD visit my Videos Page


Featured in American Painting Video Magazine

Last month American Painting Video Magazine visited me in my San Francisco studio and interviewed me for their Summer issue, just released yesterday! You can hear an interview with me in my studio and also in-process footage of my newest painting, Undersea.

Download Volume 2, Summer issue here!

15.75 x 20 inches, oil on panel 

About the painting:

Walking through San Francisco’s historic North Beach neighborhood, I stopped to look at a shop window full of collectibles and curiosities, and caught sight of a large, barnacle-encrusted bottle. I went in and spoke to the shop owner, who said he he had dredged up the bottle from the bottom of the San Francisco Bay while diving.

We struck a deal, I walked home with my treasure, and the next day the barnacle bottle was perched on my still life shelf, quietly demanding to be painted.

Over the next few days an arrangement evolved which promised to consume my studio time for weeks: A collection of salvaged treasures seemingly dredged up from the bottom of the sea. 

In this painting I have grouped objects with a variety of edges and textures: The waxed paper nearly disappears as it melts into the shadows of the background, while the spiny contours of the crab claw strike a dramatic silhouette. The soft cool highlights of the glass bottle must compete with the warm, sharp whites of the barnacle shells.

To capture this variety requires the most subtle decisions about color, value, and edge control. It takes many layers of thin oil paint to create the final result, as many as seven to ten layers in the most complicated areas.


Drawing Lecture Video


This is a recent clip of me teaching a drawing class in my studio.



Webcast Recap


Yesterday I did my first Webcast studio tour and demo, this is me standing in front of the camera, ready for my close-up!
UPDATE: Watch the Webcast again!
The webcast was recorded, so you can still click here to register and watch the whole thing, including a drawing demo, a color-mixing demo, and lots of great questions and answers.

The webcast went great and I really enjoyed myself. We had visitors from around the world, including as far away as Finland and Australia. The audience asked really good questions and kept me talking. I felt like I just skimmed over so many great topics, so I'm hoping to do a whole day-long workshop webcast in the future.
Here is my handsome camera guy, my husband Nowell, who turned a corner of my studio into a professional broadcasting suite for the day, complete with mixing board and a backup boom mic mounted on the camera, just in case my fancy rented wireless lapel mic didn't work (it worked great, though!).
A closer look at the sound and video setup. We had a brief moment of freeze-screen, but other than that we sailed through without any major technical hiccups. Phew!
My studio looked so spiffy I had to take some photos.
Above is my little still life painting corner where I spend most my time.



Webcast viewers got a look at my most recent painting which will be shipped to Arcadia Gallery in New York for the Sept 23 Small Works show.


We talked about what paints, panels, and brushes I use, and I did a little demo showing how I mix up cool and warm strings of neutral colors on my palette.

For more info you can click here to see all my blog posts about Materials

My still life shelf is at the left, my model stand is in the middle. To the right I have screens arranged as a changing room for my models.
Lady Victoire is looking happy.
The studio doors and a couple recent paintings on easels.
Thanks everyone who was able to register and attend, it was a huge success and I look forward to doing it again!

UPDATE: Watch the Webcast again!
The webcast was recorded, so you can still click here to register and watch the whole thing, including a drawing demo, a color-mixing demo, and lots of great questions and answers.



Winged Victory Drawing Demo

See the larger version here

I made this 8 minute movie of my 10-hour drawing of my cast statue "Victoire de Samothrace" to demonstrate the optical block-in method.

1. The line drawing is all straight lines.
2. The shadow side is first filled in as all one even tone.

These two methods are difficult to adhere too, but if you can do it they address the main difficulties in drawing: capturing accurate proportion, and understanding light and shadow.


  • Strathmore 400 drawing paper (not ideal for charcoal)
  • vine charcoal, hard medium, and some soft (sharpened very sharp with sandpaper)
  • kneaded eraser
  • white "magic rub" eraser
  • paper blending stump
  • rough, cheap paper towel for blending


Winged Victory
charcoal on paper
18 x 24 inches



Wrapped Silver Goblet: FINAL


Wrapped Silver Goblet
11 x 14 inches
This painting will be showing at the Open Studios Exhibition at the SomArts gallery here in San Francisco October 3- 29. Come see the exhibit at one of these two events:
Private Preview Gala, Saturday, October 3, 2009 (ticketed event)
Exhibition Opening Reception, Sunday, October 4, 2009 (free event)
More info at



I'll be teaching two workshops on still life painting in summer 2010, one here in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Florida. Details to follow soon!



Wrapped Silver Goblet: Video 1


My new painting Wrapped Silver Goblet is almost done (see the first post about this painting here). I've been filming the process of creating this painting, so here is my first episode: A demonstration of how I developed the preparatory contour drawing in pencil:



(Click here to see a higher quality version)
In the video I mention transferring a drawing to a panel using trace paper. A lot of people ask how this is done so here is a how-to I wrote up for a student recently:
  1. Draw a straight-line block-in of your composition with pencil on white drawing paper. Make your drawing the same size and shape as your painting panel.
  2. When your block-in drawing is done, lay it down on a table (not an easel) and overlay a sheet of tracing paper. Tape down all 4 corners with removable artist's tape.
  3. Trace your drawing onto the tracing paper with a hard pencil (H or HB). Be sure to trace the corners of the drawing too, so you can line it up correctly on your panel.
  4. Remove the tape, flip over your trace paper drawing and scribble gently with a soft pencil (2B/3B) over all the lines you can see through the trace (OR you can use transfer paper, which you can buy in rolls at the art supply store).
  5. Arrange the trace paper drawing-side up (scribble side down) over your panel. Line up corners with the drawing. Tape all the corners.
  6. Using a hard pencil (2H) go over all lines of the drawing to press the contour lines onto the panel. Occasionally lift one corner to make sure the lines are transferring.
  7. When you have traced all your lines, discard the trace paper. Your drawing should be transferred to the panel. Move the panel back to the easel
  8. Refine your drawing on the panel with a 2B pencil, working from life. (Otherwise all your lines will have the dead, "traced" quality")
  9. Varnish the panel to seal the surface. Optional technique is to trace over all your pencil lines with a sepia-ink fountain pen or brown ultra-fine sharpie. Either way, seal the surface of the panel with varnish. Allow to dry. (I use damar varnish thinned with Turpenoid and with a small amount of Titanium white mixed in. Shake it in a jar to mix.)



Silver Globe Pitcher: FINAL


oil on panel
16 x 20 inches
Award: Oil Painters of America 2009 Western Regional Juried Show

I made a video slide show showing all the stages of the painting and some detail closeups. You can see the movie for this painting here.


More about this painting:
In 2008 I began a series of still life paintings using crumpled wax paper as my subject. I was drawn to the material because I can twist, and crush the wax paper into draped and spiraling shapes to create dynamic environments for the simple, antique bottles and pitchers I collect.

I am always on the lookout for interesting vessels to paint, and when I found a spherical silver water pitcher at a flea market, I instantly fell in love.

Certain objects call to me and must be painted. I have learned that collecting something not-quite-right, just because I "might use it someday" is rarely successful. Those objects languish on my shelf for years, always passed over. The objects I paint resonate with me deeply and demand to be painted immediately. I had a vision of the silver globe pitcher draped in a "shawl" of crumpled wax paper, with the shawl arranged as if a small breeze were filling and lifting it.

When I set up a new still life I spend several studio days crumpling paper and discarding it, moving objects around, trying to find the best shape and composition through my viewfinder. The wax paper takes gentle coaxing and twisting to arrange it in with the feeling I am envisioning.

The final arrangement must look fresh and transparent, like it just landed there, no matter how many discarded pieces it took to reach my vision.

I begin all my paintings with a detailed contour drawing in graphite pencil on wooden panel I have prepared myself with homemade gesso. I spend several days on the drawing, first on trace paper and then directly on the board. I find that if I spend the time needed on the drawing, the structure and believability of the final painting is more successful. I never rush the drawing process, even when I am anxious to begin painting.

Once the drawing is finished, I paint in many layers over the course of a month or more, first in grays, called a "grisaille", to establish values, and later in color. I use tiny brushes from start to finish, and work on a small area each day. I move slowly around the painting, bringing each section up to the highest degree of finish possible before moving to the next area. Silver Globe Pitcher took me over 120 hours to complete over the course of 2 months.

It is only the latest stages of my process where I get to enjoy the beautiful and most subtle effects of light and texture on the surface of the objects, like the turquoise tarnished area at the base of the pitcher, the transparent paper melting into the background, the pedestal of the pitcher peeking through the folds of paper. But it requires all the earlier stages of building a solid drawing and value structure in order to successfully render the beauty I see in the surface details.

Silver Globe Pitcher is a rare instance where I include a self-portrait in my painting. I wanted the self-portrait to be a discovery, so the viewer sees and appreciates the whole composition first, before noticing my tiny image reflected in the vase. That way, each viewer has a sense of having discovered something on their own, a small secret in the painting.

My self-portrait embedded in the painting allows each person to discover my own image peering back. The viewer can see the entire little studio where I worked on this painting, and have a sense of being able to get a glimpse into the experience of the painter.

See the previous blog post about this painting here.



VIDEO DEMO: Wax Paper and Ribbon



This movie is hosted on YouTube, which greatly degrades the quality. Click here to see a better quality version of the video demo.


Time Lapse


Juliette Aristides' Still Life Painting Workshop
Gage Academy, Seattle WA, August 2007

This is so cool - Nowell set up his high-definition digital video camera on his tripod and recorded a couple time-lapse films of our art class this week.


You can see the films on YouTube:
Gage Academy on YouTube Day 1
Gage Academy on YouTube Day 2