Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter Workshops January 2013

Stephen Early
Looking for a good still life or figure workshop?  Let me recommend three excellent ones coming next month hosted at Studio Incamminati.  Steve Early and Darren Kingsley will co-instruct 'Form Painting with the Figure' and JaFang Lu will teach 'Color and Form: Still Life' both January 21st-25th.  If you aren't free during the week, yet still crave a workshop Daniel Sprick will instruct 'Drawing and Painting' the 26th and 27th.

I've taken both Steve/Darren's and JaFang's workshops and they are chalked full of applicable knowledge.  All three clearly teach the concepts first with instructor demonstrations.  I know if you have seen any of the instructors paint you leave as inspired as I do.  Then they will personally instruct you at your easel meeting you at your skill level and guide you to clearer understanding.  From the form painting workshop I remember focusing on arranging flat shapes of value into a three dimensional illusion of cascading light over the human form.  In JaFang's class, she mainly taught me how to see color relationships.  "'Is it lighter or darker?' and 'Is it cooler or warmer?'", are two questions I still ask myself when it comes to color.  This year I'm thrilled to monitor Daniel Sprick's workshop.  How does drawing and painting inform and relate to another?  I can't wait to find out!

Click below for more information about the workshops:
Daniel Sprick

JaFang Lu

See the instructors' work:


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cast Drawing

Midway through the semester, let's check in on Darren Kingsley's cast drawing class.  I've included Darren's drawing as well.  Can't wait to see them at the end of the semester.
Instructor Darren Kingsley
Barbara Zanelli

Chris Nixon

Grace Jackson

Mitsuno Reedy

Monica Bean

Shira Friedman

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Long Pose

As Level 1 concentrates on quick gesture poses, I stop in to see how the upper levels are progressing with their long poses.  The Level 3 bunch are in the middle of a three week pose, using a limited palette of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, black and white. Their model is illuminated with artificial light while in the adjacent north-light studio, it is exciting to see the Level 4 group using different mediums and seeing the different stages of the painting.  Josh Breslin is blocking-in the grisaille setting the stage for a full color expression as can be seen in Fellow Lea Wight's painting.  Fellow Alisyn Blake's drawing focuses more on subtle value changes as Fellow Rob Goodman"s drawing searches for linear expression of the forms. 

I enjoy seeing artwork in the early and middle stages because it accesses the thoughts of the artists.  What do you find helpful when you see studies in theses stages?

Rachel Pierson

Judith St. Ledger-Roty

Mary Orr

Noelle Wister

Dan Mahlman

Barbara Moquin          

Josh Breslin
Lea Wight
Christina Rose

Sakiko Shinkai
Monica Bean

Rob Goodman
Alisyn Blake

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Color Study Monday

The new school year is three weeks fresh with students returning to welcome a large incoming class!  Below are 1 1/2 hour color studies from JaFang Lu's Level II class.  

Barbara Zanelli

Carolyn Gabbe

Chris Nixon

Daryl Burkhard

Judith St. Ledger-Roty
Mary Orr
Mitsuno Reedy

Shira Friedman

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Welcome Back!!!

The International Portrait Society Conference and Competition is about to land in Philadelphia......and so is Snehal (Snae-hal) Page (Pah-gee)! She received a Certificate of Excellence for her painting, “Voluntary Simplicity”.

Snehal grew up in Puni, India and came to Incamminati about 2 ½-3 years ago. She told me once that the first thing that she learned here at Inc. was…h u m i l i t y.  A wonderful way to start her schooling here, and her career.

Humility...hmmm....makes me think of the other Incamminatite that got in to the PSOA competition....Stephen (Steve) Early......with his portrait "I Wanna Be Adored"....Interesting commentary on humility as well....

Interesting topic here.....just now seeing the parallel of the two paintings....must be the energy drink that I am imbibing...

Reminds me of one of the first few weeks when we were just starting out here at school in 2002.  The class, which included Kerry Dunn, Natalie Italiano, Steve (Stephen) Early, and myself, were all drawing in charcoal, in the classroom that later got dubbed "The Den".  A friend of Nelson's telephoned in on the front desk landline (!), where he picked up.  Quite obviously, because of how he answered, the person must have asked how it was going, because this is how Nelson responded to the question: "They're (us) getting humble."

Then there is the opposite.....humiliation....a few of us (!) used to hide in the back hallway, whenever N. came into the classroom for his regular drive-by crits....took me years at Incamminati to really get some authentic confidence and "braveurism*".  Jon de Martin once told me that you get real confidence in oneself when you start having consistent successes.

Got humility?  Ya gotta have it!

*Madame Morrible from the Broadway musical, "....., never mind, if you don't have a clue who that is, then just google it!  I'm supposed to be blogging about painting....not art!!??!!  (real-leee???)

Gotta get house is a mess, and Snehal is staying here!
Just wrote this to Jay Varma, who is having some post-Incamminati success (for his most excellent drawings)......and was feeling a little squeemish about it:

OF COURSE YOU DESERVE THE RESPECT!!!!! AND THE PRAISE! so you have some fans, just get back to work....that's all. That's the secret to success....celebrate it, and then......g e t   b a c k   t o   w o r k!!!  That's how you earn success, and praise!

I have to get off the computer now, and get outside to some peonies that I have to paint for a commission, so I can earn the success I deserve....(and the $$$$!!!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I just had the most in-depth, lengthy fantabulous phone conversation with Nelson, about FINISHING A PAINTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have known Nelson since 1987 when I met him at the Art Students’ League, and became one of his students…..and to be quite honest…I’ve always been and always will be, in awe of him, and his work. I’ve been able to stifle the knocking of my knees (I try to always sit when talking in depth to him, but to this day, my heart is always in my throat…)
Whew, here we go……………!!!
I took notes, it was hard to keep up, so if you have any questions please send them to this post, and I will clarify them…..if I don’t know quite how to answer, I”ll get Nelson on the phone again!
First, and foremost……He uses finishing medium number 2 and 2 only and only Finish canvas # 1, and bristles only from his own animals that he hand-picks himself.…
Just kidding…ok here are my notes:
-First of all (seriously this time),“Finish” is not the word he likes to use, because most people think smooth polished painting is finish. Nelson likes the word “refine”.
-Finish is as finished is….its what the painter deems as finished, Some like to leave it as blobs of obvious color. Nelson said that he likes to do this on his sketches, and in his demos. Believe it or not, he has had people, including art dealers, tell him that they like his paintings in this state. (So nice to hear!!!! Don’t you hate it when people say that?!)
-Finish depends on the goal, again what the painter is searching for. For Nelson, it is the soul of the person, place and/or things that he is painting. You can have an unbelievable finish, refinement of technique, but unless you don’t have the feeling(s) you have nothing! This makes me think about American Idol….(forgive me, my secret is out….. I love this show!!!!) Whenever the judges are critiquing one of the singers on the show, they always talk about whether or not the contestant captured the feeling of the song.
For Nelson, refinement is also, of course, about the search for the values and the color between the more contrasting ones.
He hates, no, I know Nelson….he loathes overly polished paintings…..he finds them boring and unappealing. He says that they are over-manipulated, that the feeling of the painting has been severely diminished…..he says that these types of paintings were never started correctly…..they were “unstarted.”
I asked him about his technique, and this is what he said:
-he used painting an eye as an example of what he is looking for….he strives to get inside and behind the the person…into the depths of his/her soul… have to dig wayyyyyyyyy deep!!
He ended the conversation by saying that, and this is from his perspective:
-if you have the technique that we teach here at Incamminati, you have the ability to refine a painting properly… have your scales down and you can let the aria out!!
I love how this conversation about refining a painting was so-o--ooooo-o much about the ability to find the soul of the thing, place, person that you are painting(searching)! It is about one soul to another soul……(I’m gasping right here!) Don’t you just love that????!!!??
Thank-you so much, Nelson!!

Comments and questions puh-leez!!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stealing this idea from my own blog(

"It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life, and it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps then you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you've had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered." Jim Collins, From Good to Great

I love, love, love this quote!!!  It is my favorite quote of all times....for the time being....

What's your fave inspiring quote?  C'mon!!!  Comment!!!  I know you want to.....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

That's the wrong color!!!!!!! ??????????

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” Alice Walker,author of The Color Purple  
"I have observed a number of works which actually lead one to assume that certain people's eyes show them things differently from the way they really are ... who perceive - or as they would doubtless say 'experience' - the meadows as blue, the sky as green, the clouds as sulphurous yellow, and so on ... I wish to prohibit such unfortunates, who clearly suffer from defective vision, from trying to foist the products of their faulty observation on to their fellow men as though they were realities, or indeed from dishing them up as 'art'."
Adolf Hitler, failed-artist-turned-dicatator….aka screwed-up human, 1937

I’ve heard it said by different people from different times, but I’m quoting Titian
File:Tizian 090.jpg
self-portrait, Titian, 1576
 because I couldn’t find anybody earlier: “A good painter needs only three colors: black, white, and red.” (my instant thoughts…….Ok, da Cadore, but what about great painters? And is this a rule?……aren‘t rules to be broken in art?)

I asked Nelson about this statement.
He Self-portrait, Nelson Shanks, 1987.

He pointed out that many of the colors that we use today have only been developed in the last 80 years or so. It can take humans awhile to adapt to new ideas and new concepts……it took three centuries to accept a spherical Earth as a physical given, and a practical demonstration was not achieved until the 16th century by Magellan and Elcano.

He has always stated that a limited palette lends itself to a limited vision. The first time that I realized that my own vision was limited was when I was introduced to seeing color by the Florida artist, Nike Parton, (c. 1922-2005).

Landscape painting by Nike Parton
I remember her pointing out a color in the landscape that I was painting. I was aggravated that I could not see the color that she was pointing out, until she pointed it out, and panicking that I could not see it without her guidance.

Nelson also pointed out in a recent phone conversation that I had with him that learning to see color (from a colorist’s point of view) expands what you can do. ( I think of the piano…..there is more than one octave….) He commented that even if you use a reserved palette it is always good to have the experience of a colorist. I would add that it is also good to experiment a tonal palette even if deem yourself a colorist. Again, it can only add to your repertoire.

I want to end this blog entry with this…..great art is sincere, authentic, and honest, and “the color of truth is grey” to quote the writer Andre Gide.

I loathe saying that there is only one way to see the world, that there is only one right way to do something…(“Why you put another man down? No man should asunder the joy another man found“ Prince, the musical philosopher and gender-bending humanist, in the song “Push“.)
….but I am so very happy and so very grateful that I have more than four colors on my palette!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fun, Fun, FUN!!!!!!!!!!

"Sometimes I'm working on a film and someone will ask me if I'm having fun. And I'm tempted to tell them the truth: No, absolutely not. Having no fun here at all. You know what's going to be fun? When it's done, and I've done a fuckin' good job, and I know people are getting something out of that. I'll have a lot of fun then. A ton of it."
-Philip Seymour Hoffman

I love this guy.....he is so-ooo-oo honest! I have been inconsistent keeping up with this blog because I was going through a rough patch with painting and didn't want people to know (there, I feel better!), and I have a difficult time keeping my "stuff" to's a total sin if you admit that sometimes painting is not always fun, right? Sometimes it just adds up to work that has to get done, it's not always la-la-la I'm having such a pleasant

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
- Emile Zola (1840-1902)

And I quote from one of our own:
"Just pick up the brush, and start painting"
-Kerry Dunn

It can be a catch-22 situation is work, and you gotta do it, and force yourself sometimes, but it can be really hard to keep working when all of a sudden out of the blue.....not fun. making it fun, or allowing it to be fun is what keeps you going....(or should be) It totally sucks when you are not having a good time, you kind of have to re-invent painting for yourself, or go read something that helps pull you out of it. I like to read (over and over!) the chapter titled "The Painting of A Still-Life" by Henry Hensche. It takes me back to the basics of painting, and some of the things that I love about painting.

There's something that Nelson has said: "Let it be fun"......key word....let(allow...permit)... don't fight is hard work to excel at anything....

If you have anything that helps you put the fun back into your painting.......and puh-leeeze, don't judge me for admitting that sometimes it ain't FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aghhh!!! What a scary thing to make public!!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Do Re Mi

I have been thinking about the importance of the basics, and how we practice them here at Incamminati over and over. A level one student does one-minute gestures all first semester and even into the second. Second year students do a ton of black and white studies, and a gazillion color studies. I have to say that I was starting to wonder if we were beating a dead horse.....but then.......I got invited to a Halloween karaoke party last fall.....
I chose to sing two fairly difficult songs, and decided that the only way to do this was to take voice lessons.....I hadn't really sung in about 30 years.....and girl oh girl was that first lesson ever painful...more for the teacher than me!!
I actually had two teachers, which meant two lessons a week...I had limited time to get ready for the party.....6 weeks if I remember correctly. Both teachers focused on getting me to relax my vocal cords, and how to breathe correctly. This was not an easy task, I had to think about what I was doing. The lessons revolved around exercises designed to help relax my vocal cords. For an hour twice a week, and with practice in between, I ran (sang)up and down scales, practiced catching and holding my breath in my abdomen...not my throat (news to me!! and not so easy to do at first!), practiced singing different vowels and simple sounds....all these exercises over and over.....then I would practice my selected songs.
The whole time that I was taking these lessons I was reminded constantly of how we practice here at Incamminati. Gestures over and over, 10 minute block-ins...grisailles...and then into actual paintings using these building blocks,
The political satirist Stephen Colbert was cast in Stephen Sondheim's 2011 production of Company, and commenced taking voice lessons. Here is what he had to say about the experience: "What I rediscovered was the therapeutic nature of singing lessons," he says. "They're like doing yoga but for [the] inside of your body. You open up and use muscles that you don't think of as malleable. ... You can turn your head into a bell. ... That's what we kept working on: resonance and projection and relaxation and just remembering or relearning how to breathe through a phrase. The technical aspects of it are fascinating to go through in the lessons. And then you have to forget all of it, and sing." Just liking painting....the technical aspects of drawing and painting are in and of themselves fascinating.......but are in no way the end result. At some point you have to forget all of it and just paint. The exercises and the drawing lessons ultimately give us the ability to express ourselves from our inner being.
We are not taught to paint like Nelson Shanks at Incamminati.......he has never wanted that, but for each of us to be our own authentic artist, and you get there from repetition, and then more repetition, and then some more repetition.

By the way, I won best performance at that party.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The sweet sounds of artistic success


Recently, Studio Incamminati and the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra celebrated another successful year filled with visual arts creation and education and musical education and performance. They joined forces at the orchestra's annual gala at The Union League of Philadelphia. These two organizations, the orchestra in existence for 72 years and the school celebrating its 10th birthday, share a common commitment. Both provide students with the highest levels of education so that their  students in turn will carry on the artistry and education they have experienced. We at Studio Incamminati thank everyone who made this grand evening possible.

The evening gala began with demonstrations by studio artists (from right) Alisyn Kuntz, an  accomplished artist who holds an MFA and BFA; Jason Espey, a fourth-year artist at the school who has widely exhibited and John Flavin, a third-year artist who previously worked as an interior designer. Their commitment to realist painting at a high level was evident as they interpreted a still life of a series of Philadelphia Youth Orchestra instruments. Their work was warmly received by artists and music aficionados alike.

The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra also demonstrated its skill with an impressive orchestral performance. With a team of professional musicians and educators serving as faculty, this organization educates, trains and fosters the talent of nearly 400 students from the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware area.
The young musicians offered an impressive performance of Antonin Dvorak's  popular “Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From The New World.”

In this partnership, all proceeds from the sale of Studio Incamminati art benefits the orchestra and the studio artists. The remaining unsold artwork is now available online for a limited time at

In truth, this is just one of the outreach efforts we undertake to make a truly meaningful contribution to others. Another example is our groundbreaking partnership with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Face to Face: The Craniofacial Portrait Project.
Here, our award-winning instructors paint portraits of children facing a variety of craniofacial issues. For children who often experience poor self-esteem, social stigma and rejection, the act of painting their portrait helped them see themselves in a positive light.

Studio Incamminati believes that great art, whether visual, musical or otherwise, brings purpose in our lives. Through teaching and creating, we attempt to bring joy. Through partnerships with organizations such as the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, and our participation in the Craniofacial Program Portrait Project, we seek to share our gifts, as well as raise money and awareness of what great art can contribute to our community and our world.

We welcome visitors to Studio Incamminati, as well as ideas for new partnerships  with others who share our commitment to our community and to producing skilled and creative artists.