Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A day in the life of a third year student

by Wendy Wagner
Third-year Student

Welcome back, as you shadow me through level three.
Returned to see our names by this

I will continue to write about my days as a student in the Advanced Fine Art program. For continuity, I'm starting with my first Monday class, however because of the holiday, school has been in session for almost two weeks.
Today is Portrait day with Kerry Dunn, and we are eager to get to work.

8 am: Arrive at school early to relax before setting up.

9 am: We jump right in the a 20-minute pose. Kerry walks around and evaluates what we are doing, giving corrections. His advice is for us to consider the gesture, tip, and tilt of the head. This continues for most of the morning, until we are allowed one 40-minute pose, which takes us right up to lunch. With the longer pose, we are instructed to add a value for the light.

Here are examples from the class:

Examples from students

Examples from students

Noon: Lunch is taken outside to enjoy the fall sunlight. Today is a Kerry-thon for some of us who are also taking his evening class, so I use the rest of my lunchtime to make a latte run. I will need the energy!
Lunchtime pick-me-up

12:45 pm: Kerry sets up the model to do a four-pose demo. Below are some observations from each pose.

Pose 1: 
Starts out with large shape; Divides one area for head, one for neck. If he starts in with an angle, he takes through head to see where it intersects on other side.
Look back and forth quickly between painting and model - in doing this, an error will jump out.
He adds no features in this pose.

Pose 2:
Always compare parts to the whole. If you compare the nose to the mouth, they may work together, but not with the whole. This will throw off your likeness. If you find yourself getting stuck in one area, move on. You will see the problem clearer when you go back to it.

Kerry's Class Demo

Pose 3:
Kerry adds the light on the ball of the nose. This aids in evaluating the turn, tip and tilt of the head.

This is basically form painting, but using a generic flesh tone for the light masses. We are to mix up one tone to represent the middle value in light, and apply it thinly.  To make a lighter value, the paint is applied opaquely. A darker value is achieved by thinning, thus letting more grey ground show through.
He drops in the highlight.

Pose 4:
Continuing to model towards the light, then switching to shadow, he addresses the half tone by mixing blue/green into the flesh color. 
He also adds a touch of cad scarlet to the mixture to address the ruddy areas of the face, such as cheeks or an ear.

We end the class with our own 40-minute pose.

4-6 pm: We have two hours before the evening portrait class begins, so its time to eat dinner. After, I mosey in to level two to see the students who are working overtime, do some sketching, and check social media. Do you know that we are now on Instagram? Follow us! Studio_Incamminati.

6 pm: The evening portrait class begins. Anyone can sign up for an evening class but many students also take them also to get extra practice. This class has five students who are from the Advanced Fine Art program and six who are not. Reminiscent of a workshop, it's nice to mix it up with new people.

Kerry begins with a demo and explains how we will be using a limited palette for our one-night pose (to be detailed in a later post).

7 pm: We start working on our portrait

Students working in the evening Portrait Class
9 pm: Whew! Class is over for the day. In 12 hours, I'll be at my easel for Tuesday's class, so I gotta go.  See you soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Advanced Portrait Workshop - Kerry Dunn

by Lynn Snyder
Third-year Student

Recently, we wrapped up the summer season of workshops with Advanced Portrait Painting by Kerry Dunn assisted by Robin Frey. 

The steps we follow in the Advanced Fine Art Program at Studio Incamminati covered in the workshop are taught to third-year students during an entire year.  It's a great way to get a glimpse into what we do but at warp speed!  

The first two hours of class were spent watching Kerry and Robin demo. Then we get to our easels and apply what we watched them do. Below are step photos of Kerry and Robin's demos showcasing their approach to building a portrait.  What a great week...I can't wait  for full curriculum this fall!

Step Photos of Kerry's Demo

Step Photos of Robin's Demo

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A demo duo . . .

by Wendy Wagner
Third-year Student

. . .or is it a dual demo?

Either way, workshop students and outsiders came together recently to watch a three-hour demo by artists / teachers Kerry Dunn and Darren Kingsley, as part of Kerry's Advanced Portrait Painting workshop.
Darren Kingsley (left) and Kerry Dunn (right)
 In speaking with the workshop participants (sadly, I was not one), people were excited by how the week was progressing.  In the event that you could not attend, I took photographs of each pose.

Kerry's evolution over the evening
Darren's start to finish
Keep in mind that these were only taken with my phone, so lighting depended on where I happened to be standing at the time. Kerry is a tall guy, so my angles varied,  as his easel was so high.

This school year I will continue to blog about my exploits as a third-year student. Please stay tuned.

Friday, September 4, 2015

This edited version of a guest blog by Instructor JaFang Lu originally appeared in her newsletter at

During my recent summer workshops, I had to work with a number of very dedicated and talented artists.  Here, I am sharing some images, process and exercises that my students went through in the Form and Color Portrait Workshop I taught at Studio Incamminati, School for Contemporary Realist Art.
A student of mine happened to have a camera with her on the last day of the workshop and lent it to me.  I was able to snap some pictures.  I missed the opportunity to take photos of paintings/studies in progress and what students did earlier in the week, however, this turns out to be the only and most well photo-documented workshop that I've taught so far.  A fact that strangely surprised me.

Although photos rarely come close to representing the artwork and are sometimes even deceptive, the experience of writing about this workshop made me realize how helpful it can be to document the process with images. In looking through and selecting images for this post, I am surprised by how much I forget (and am reminded of that by seeing the images I took then).
Because images were taken on a point-shoot camera, shot under difficult lighting sometimes and by me, I only published photos that are clear and, believe me, I've eliminated many blurry and glarey photos with students' consent, so not everyone's work is represented here. This was a five-day workshop. It focused on structures of the head and utilization and calibration of value-color relationship to recreate the effect of light on form.  All exercises are designed to enhance students' understanding in these two areas.

Image 1
Image 2
  Image 3 - value shifts,
 plane changes
Part 1 - Form Study: Open and Closed Grisaille
Each day began with a lecture and demo on the topic/exercise that we would cover that day. Every new exercise built upon the concept obtained in the previous exercise/s.  Gradually from doing these studies, students understood the concepts I talked about - and showed in the demo - through their own hands-on experience. In form study, our focus was on:
  • Understanding basic structures of the head
  • Obtaining general proportions of the model/person
  • Using value relationship to recreate the sense of form
The demos above are 10-20 minutes of closed grisaille.  Image 1 and 2 show different stages in closed grisaille - from a simpler to more complex value system and resulting in the more three-dimensional form of the head in Image 2.  I then proceeded to talk about major planes of the head and how value shifts correspond to plane changes in Image 3.

Part 2 - Color Study: Limited vs. Full Palette and Cool vs Warm Light Effect

Once students have a better grasp of the structures of the head, we moved into color study. Initially we used a limited palette of 6 or 7 colors. Above is a demo I did of a model with a fair complexion under the warm light. When students became familiar with this palette, we moved into the full palette of around 22 colors. Students did 2 studies of the same model/pose, one under the warm light and one under a warm light with a cool colored filter. In this case, we used green. For this exercise, I had demoed directly on a student's canvas to save time. At the bottom of this newsletter, you will see images of my students' studies on this exercise. 

Part 3 - Bring it together

Usually, in a five-day workshop, I would do a 2-3 hour evening demo, where students can see how principles taught during the workshop can be incorporated in developing a painting. Above is the demo I did of Carol under the warm light. She has darker complexion than the model in the image shown in the previous exercise. In the demo, in addition to getting the basic proportions and structures as accurately as possible in the time allowed, I also wanted to show the model's complexion as well as the temperature of the lighting (warm).
Here are some of my students' studies of these three stages.

Closed Grisaille: From Simpler to More Complex Value Planes



Color Study:
Limited Palette Color Study


Warm vs. Cool (Gel) Light Color Study


Full Palette Painting

Images of 2 full palette paintings in earlier and later stage.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Form Painting Workshop with Darren and Steve

by Wendy Wagner
Third-year Student

From Brazil to California, artists from all over came to study with Steve Early and Darren Kingsley at their popular Form Painting workshop.

It is basically a year of our Level Two class condensed into one week. We started with gestures + block-in's, before moving into a four-day pose. Darren and Steve would demo in the morning  and we would paint when they finished.
gestures and block-in's
There isn't nearly enough space to abbreviate all of the information given (you will have to take it for yourself sometime), but here is a visual synopsis.

Steve talking to students about his work
Darren explaining his process to a student
 Keep in mind that these photos were taken quickly with an iPhone. During model breaks, students would ask questions, and there would be a line for pictures. This is the last workshop for Steve as a regular instructor here, as he is moving to California. However, he has been named Instructor Emeritus and will continue to have input into the curriculum and teach workshops.
Not a lot of paint to make the magic
Steve giving a critique
Darren photobombing his painting
See- it wasn't all work! In the end, we had a blast, learned a lot, and met some new friends. Here are the stages of their work. Steve used black and white, while Darren went for limited color.
They make it look so easy!
Darren's progress
Darren Kingsley
Steve's progress
Steve Early

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Week Two Intensive Painting Workshop - Group Demo

By Lynn Snyder
Third-year Student

During the Intensive Painting workshop, JaFang Lu and Lea Colie Wight demoed for three and a half hours on Wednesday evening. Step photos were taken at each pose break showing their approach to building a painting.  It was treat to see the beauty of the figure emerge. 

JaFang Lu's Demo

Lea Colie Wight's Demo

Photos were taken with an iPhone. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Intensive Figure Painting Workshop with JaFang Lu

By Lynn Snyder
Third-year Student

Week two of the Intensive workshop was taught by instructor JaFang Lu. It highlighted the fundamental skills taught in the four-year curriculum of the Advanced Fine Art Program.

Class began with a demo showing the linear stage of the painting process using the envelope method. This is an outside guide for forming the outer shapes, major thrust of the head, rib cage, hips and legs. Shadow shapes are added to further articulate the form by squinting and keeping the shapes simple. The tone of the canvas represents the light mass in the painting called open grisaille. The students did several poses incorporating these concepts into the beginning stages of the painting.

10-Minute Demo

Building on the previous step, a limited palette was used to mix a warm flesh tone to represent the middle tones of the light. JaFang mixed a dark light value to cover the gray tone in the light areas. A dark accent and highlight were established to obtain the value range.  

  20-Minute Demo

The next two demos showed how to use the thickness of the paint and white to get deeper values for a broader value range.

40-Minute Demo

40-Minute Demo

After two days of using a limited palette, JaFang introduced color to the figure. The first pass of color is the intuitive choice based on the one that's easiest to see in the light, moving on to the easiest to see in the shadow.  

20-Minute Demo

JaFang painted alongside of us for the longer pose. As she went through each stage of the painting, she'd announce she was moving forward and we were able to watch as needed. Some students watched while others painted along. It was amazing to see her get so far in the painting with a clear effect of light in such a short time. We all came away with a working approach to building a painting. Great experience!  

60-Minute Demo

Student Work