Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kevin Beilfuss Workshop Nuggets

Kevin Beilfuss Workshop Nuggets!

What a great week of instruction and inspiration! Kevin is a very warm, generous instructor with a sense of humor and great humility. I enjoyed the workshop so much. We had lovely models and did 2 to 3 poses a day, drawing with oil and a tortillon.  tortillon (The french name for /tɔrˈtjɒn/; or blending stump) is a cylindrical drawing tool, tapered at the ends and usually made of rolled paper, used by artists to smudge or blend marks made with charcoalConté crayonpencil or other drawing media.

 He uses some wonderful bright colors that I don't normally use, especially in a portrait, like Permanent Rose, Turquoise Blue and Permanent Green Light (chartreuse) 

A few shots of his head study of Brenna.

Some key lessons & reminders:  
  • Don't draw what you think you are seeing. Draw the shapes around the subject
  • Five darks of the face, all 'under' planes  1. Under brows 2. under eye 3. under nose    4. under upper lip   5. under lower lip (chin)
  • First stage drawing, create an envelope where your subject will fit in.
  • His instructor, Carolyn Anderson's advice, "Look for and create areas that act like fireflies, catching the eye and moving you around the canvas."
  • "Everyone has the will to succeed, but not everyone has the will to prepare, develop the skill and do the work to succeed."
  • "If you have an ego, park it at the door. If you don't have an ego, park that at the door too. We are all the same & will be learning something new. You will see the difference when you get home and apply what you are learning." Great workshop advice!!
  • Kevin admits to using 'bells & whistles' in his paintings, but cautions, "No amount of bells & whistles can save a bad drawing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I started a workshop series with Rebecca Neef on Chiaroscuro 
Wikipedia art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. Chiaroscuro is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for using contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional objects such as the human body. Similar effects in the lighting of cinema and photography are also often called chiaroscuro.

Here is the first step. Blocking in the composition. 
I will try to post my progression in the next few weeks.
 A classically trained artist and  such a wealth of information. 
One of the things she explained to us relates to the beauty of chiaroscuro being in the way the light hits a very ordinary object that is often lifted up to eye level or above. This elevates an otherwise ordinary and humble object, to a place of beauty and dignity.
Will keep you posted!!
Also heading to Kevin Beilfuss workshop next week!!! 
All the things I love so much. 
Will be sharing what I learn with you in the weeks to come!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Drawing Paper Tips


Love this video by J.D. Hillberry. I have a drawing series going in one of my classes and we are talking about everything to do with drawing: charcoal, graphite, composition, lighting, basic shapes and much more. We watched this video recently. In case you missed that week, he has some great illustrations that will stick with you on drawing papers, the effects on paper of oil in your hands & other tips for getting a better drawing!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013



A few wise words from Pinterest. (Sorry no author listed) 
One of the areas I see artists struggle with the most 
is in comparing their work to others around them. 

Here are a few quotes that may shed some light:
Henrik Edberg"Instead of comparing yourself to other people create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. See how much you have grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals."
Henry Nouwen"Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired. Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It has become difficult to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with patience, perseverance, and love."
Quotes above were found at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Inspiration from a 94 year old!

INSPIRATION from a 94 yr old!

if you are in a SLUMP!!!

At 94 years old, Hy Snell is an energetic and awe-inspiring gentleman

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drawing & Painting the Head

In case you missed the drawing class this week,
here are a few highlights...
I think of Helen Van Wyk when I teach about structure and volume in drawing and painting. She often talks about painting apples. When you paint an apple, hold an apple in your hand, take a bite of out it, think about the roundness of that apple. When you paint a head, you are painting a 3 dimensional object like an apple, on a flat surface. That spherical shape will have dark, medium, light and high lighted areas, along with a front, side, top or bottom, depending on eye level. It is very helpful to place an imaginary box over the head in the beginning to define these shapes. 
As Sargent indicated in his teaching, getting the feel of that head as a mass is vital. We often jump right into the features without one thought about the volume of the whole head. 

"and under his hands, a head would be an amazing likeness long before he had so much as indicated the features themselves. In fact, it seemed to me the mouth and nose just happened with the modeling of the cheeks, and one eye, living luminous, had been placed in the socket so carefully prepared for it (like a poached egg dropped on a plate, he described the process)..."
Mary Newbold Patterson Hale, in The World Today (November 1927)

I found the following website and YouTube videos by Stan Prokopenko to be very helpful.

Website for other drawing videos -

Monday, September 2, 2013

Inspiration from Jamie Wyeth

 I was intrigued by the following videos and article on artist Jamie Wyeth. I saw his work  in 2005 in Maine at the Farnsworth Museum (Wyeth Center). I loved his seagull series,  entitled "Seven Deadly Sins". What an interesting man and really fun to watch him work! (painting on cardboard in the first video!)

Inferno was shot on Location in Jamie Wyeth’s Studio, on his island off the Coast of Maine. 
Jamie, a celebrated contemporary realist painter, son of Andrew Wyeth, grandson of N. C. Wyeth, has never been filmed at work until the making of this short. Working with great intensity and focus Jamie applies thick watercolors and charcoal to a 60x80 inch piece of corrugated cardboard using his fingers, hands, brushes, and paperclips. As we watch the work in progress the film brings us so close we can hear the roaring inferno of burning garbage and the shrieking of Gulls. 

CLICK HERE to watch "Inferno" 

A Wyeth Sense of Place
This film depicts the work of painter Jamie Wyeth (son of Andrew Wyeth). Mr.Wyeth shows us his love for painting and the land where he grew up.  [This is an excerpt from a half-hour program]

CLICK HERE to watch 

2 Paintings from the Seven Deadly Sins Series....

Gluttony & Anger 

CLICK images to see more...


  • February 09, 1981
  • Vol. 15
  • No. 5  PEOPLE Magazine Article

  • Possessive of Privacy and a Master of Disguises, Painter Jamie Wyeth Meets the World Incognito

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    Mass vs. Contour

    MASS vs. CONTOUR   
    One of the things I discuss in class most often is learning to see in MASS! Seems we are conditioned from the time we first pick up a crayon (or as my grandson calls it "care on"), to outline and then fill in the spaces! While this is not 'wrong', it continues to keep me in a linear mode as I work. I think this is one reason that I have often felt my paintings had a contrived feel to them. When I am thinking in linear mode, I tend to work in a piecemeal fashion, working on bits and pieces here and there. I am finally moving out of that mode of work, looking for beautiful shapes that might unify or tie together the separate parts. When continuing in the outline mode after my initial start, it seems I have a difficult time loosening up and letting the beautiful creative flow take charge. As Daniel Greene often said, "It is all much easier than you ever imagined". Instead of continuing to hold the charcoal or brush in a pencil grip style, if I flip it over, perpendicular to my fingers and begin massing with the side, instead of the point, my drawings and paintings are instantly more fluid and painterly.

    The worksheet below is from Andrew Loomis' book Creative Illustration. 
    You can find a copy of it here
     It is in pages 115-117. Loomis' books are fabulous!! 

    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    Step by Step through a Pastel Portrait

    This is my niece's daughter Bailey. I loved the sunlight on the tips of her hair and her sweet expression. I took about 250 shots of her out in the garden. I needed a sample for a gallery in pastel and thought she would be a great subject.
    I photographed these stages at night (which is when the world slows down enough for me to paint without distraction.) I used a warm light so the color is off a bit. The paper I used was white so you can see the warm tungsten lighting. 
    I started with a charcoal drawing. You can see that I don't always get an exact likeness
    especially in my first drawing. The likeness comes as I develop it more and more. 
    Next I started laying in color, darks first.
    It is very important to be able to get a likeness
    and even more to convey the essence of
    the person and not just to strive to be a copyist.
    It is this stage that feels most like Kindergarten. It is a messy stage,
    one of my teachers called it the 'burn victim stage'. 
    Working in a mosaical fashion laying in chunks of color
    I continue working all over the painting,
    looking at my subject each time I record a stroke.
    No matter what medium you use, you are drawing each time
     you lay in a stroke whether using a brush,
     pastel or stick of charcoal.
    Drawing is the foundation of painting.
    You often find warm, pink tones through the mid section of the face
    in ears, cheeks and around nose. Often where shadow & light meet
    is a warm glowy color, like down the bridge of nose.
    Looking for cool tones in the shadows especially.
    Not too much or it will look like a bruise.

    I often see cool tones around the mouth, not usually IN the mouth,
    as that tends to make your subject look oxygen deprived.
    The inside of the mouth is almost always a WARM color.
    Beginning to smooth the tiles of color together with pastel pencils.
     I don't use my finger due to all the oils in my hands. Tortillians or stumps seems to drag color around and muddy things up.
    Pastel pencils are hard enough to blend without adding much color.
    They work perfectly for blending. 
    Adding more color after I smoothed the skintones
    Cleaning up with a kneaded eraser and washing my hands often
    in order not to muddy up colors.
    Brightening up skin tones and continuing to smooth
    I often use cool backgrounds to accentuate the warm flesh tones of skin.
    I chose a medium dark value since her hair was so light
    and I used dark at the bottom to make the sunlight in her hair show better.
    (It was also one of my young student's suggestion. Thanks Meg!! )

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