Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Identifying and Understanding Your Creative Intentions

During our Advanced Portrait Workshop Teaching Fellows Lea Wight and Stephen Early gave a wonderful evening presentation about their work. They used their artwork and personal experiences as professional artists to address issues vital to every artist, including transitioning from student work to personal work, identifying and understanding your creative intentions, and recognizing when a painting concept is revealing itself and when an idea is transforming. This post shows work that Lea presented and some of her ideas.
Lea presented her work in categories, beginning with "People". She included the following pieces, and included an excerpt from a song by Susan Vega:

"Bound up in wire and fate
watching her walk him up to the gate
in front of the ironbound school yard.

Kids will grow like weeds on a fence
She says they look for the light they try to make sense.
They come up through the cracks
Like grass on the tracks
She touches him goodbye."

"Waiting" 42 x 32

Lea talked about her inspiration for the painting "Waiting", as that time in a young adult's life when they begin to really be independent, and are doing adult things such as going to appointments and making adult decisions and yet, the model in this painting is wearing gloves that are attached by a string, which is something a child would wear. She is able to wear something childish because she has, in fact, become an adult and is not feeling vulnerable to being thought of as a child. Lea said she was inspired by her own children's lives and their transition into adulthood. To me this painting brings together personal significance for the artist with universal significance by describing the passage that all children go through as they transition into adulthood.

"The Muse" 30 x 30

"Au Pair" 26 x 42

The next category she presented was "Home". Included was an excerpt of the following poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

THE ROOM is full of you!—As I came in

And closed the door behind me, all at once

A something in the air, intangible,

Yet stiff with meaning, struck my senses sick!—

"Running Out" 18 x 24

Lea talked about her feelings about her still life paintings, and the idea that a still life is about the people who are not there. This feeling is described in Millay's poem.

"Guest Room" 24 x 18

"On the Porch" 18 x 18

"The Bed" 14 x 18

"Last Summer" 18 x 18

"The Arrival" 32 x 24

She included her painting "The Wedding", a painting of fellow instructor Robin Frey's wedding dress. Lea talked about the symbolism of the rack the dress is hanging on, and how this reflects aspects of the attachment of marriage, and the shadow behind the dress, and how its shape reminded her of a dress that a young woman might wear, in a stage of life before she is married.

"The Wedding" 50 x 30

"Duckboat Shed" was the last category. Lea talked about the personal nature of inspiration for this painting; her family's involvement with boats since her childhood, her personal experiences going to this boat shed near her grandmother's house when she was growing up, and her brother's boats which were kept here. This painting is layered with personal meaning for her. I found that although I did not know all of this, I could feel the depth of feeling that the artist experienced with this painting, this comes across to me. Maybe this is an expression of the universal in the personal.

"Duckboat Shed" 20 x 22

To see more of Lea's work to

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still Life Workshop with Kerry Dunn

This five day workshop explored the building stages of a painting from beginning to finish. Still life is ideal for this type of study because it provides a subject and a light source that are constant. The first day students set up individual still life arrangements and executed painting thumbnails in order to determine the composition for the final painting. On day two students begin the final painting which they had four days to develop. Each morning Kerry worked on a demo painting from 9 to 10:30 A.M.

The first painting stage consists of the initial grisaille where drawing and proportion are strictly observed. Here is Kerry's demo of a grisaille and color block-in. Notice how the grisaille is painted gesturally, with energy and freedom.

Subsequent stages move into the full color block-in where abstract value and color relationships are established and adjusted. The larger-to-smaller shape principle is observed as we move through this process.

Demo of the beginning stage of the painting: color block-in. The shapes are simple and clear.

Here is an image of Kerry's set up with his demo painting. There is one light source, a simple clip light hidden behind the painting.

The demo set up has a clear separation of light and shadow on the objects and background.

Class discussions centered on the concept of light on form, establishing value and color parameters, edge development, paint handling, focal points, and determining when a work is considered complete. Above is a demo of a ball illustrating the effect of light on form, and the component parts. The lights on the ball are conceptualized as bands, which become broader as they are nearer to the light source.

These two images show students working on their still life paintings.
To see more of Kerry Dunn's work, go to

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Form Painting with Steve Early and Darren Kingsley - week two

Here are some images from the second session (week 2) of the Form Painting Workshop at Studio incamminati. Students worked on two figure studies during the week; one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Instructor Darren Kingsley (right) assisting a student.

Instructor Stephen Early assisting a student with her painting.

To see more of the instructors work, please visit their web sites,,

"Terrill" by Darren Kingsley

"Emma" by Steve Early

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Form Painting with Steve Early and Darren Kingsley

In this workshop students learn the principles essential to transform abstract flat shapes into fully dimensional forms and create a sense of light on the figure. Students concentrate on painting the figure with a full range of values and on developing the ability to make accurate value calibrations. The focus is on structure, anatomy, proportion, light direction, edge conditions, abstract movements through the figure, composition and an understanding of form on the figure. These concepts are executed through an application of opaque and semi-opaque paint in the light and shadow areas. This also enables the student to develop painting skills such as scumbling, feathering, and texture. Control of the paint is a priority and is essential to achieving the required goals.

Steve and Darren demonstrate daily during the workshop. This is the beginning of their demo.

Paints used include burnt umber for the grisaille (initial monochromatic painting), and a mixture of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, titanium white and a small amount of ivory black for the light mixture (closed grisaille). The main color used for the lights is adjusted and varied to create value changes and to develop form.
Steve's demo in progress (above), and completed demo (below.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Understanding the Figure through Anatomy- Robert Liberace workshop

For centuries artists have known that a comprehensive understanding of anatomy has a profound influence on their art. From dissecting cadavers to poring over ancient texts, artists such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo studied the human form not only to improve their own artwork but also to satisfy their deep curiosity.

This class, inspired by the great tradition of anatomical study, explores the intricacies of the human figure in order to craft more solid and spirited drawings. We study the connections and character of the main muscles of the body and render them both as they are under the skin and as they influence the surface form. The morning period is devoted to ecorche drawing stressing the particular relationship of muscle and bone. The afternoon period focuses on rendering the figure in a traditional manner with an emphasis on technique and style.

Rob demoing at Studio Incamminati

Critique of student's work.

Rob's drawing materials include vine charcoal and conte crayon.

Another workshop demo

To see more of Rob's work go to