Star Wars Comps for Concept

Earlier this year for a class assignment with Armand Baltazar at the Animation Collaborative, we had an assignment to come up with a scene or concept that currently does not exist in a movie. One of my all time favorite movies is, of course, Star Wars, the original trilogy, but most especially "The Empire Strikes Back", where we meet Darth Sidious, "The Emperor", for the first time. 

Up until that point, we feel that Darth Vader is the most powerful guy in the universe, even though we are conscious that he is definitely working for someone. When we meet The Emperor, he seems to be parallel to Master Yoda in power but belongs to the Sith and rules the Empire. However, I had always thought that since Darth Vader has unusual power, the Emperor, being a completely corrupt man, would perhaps have some other way of gaining force power than just by being himself. In addition to that, he must have been extremely peeved when Vader let Luke get away. 

I imagined that in between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi", Darth Sidious brings Vader into his private chambers where he keeps a gigantic symbiotic parasite that he uses to not only control Vader, but also torture him and secretly extract force energy from him.

Here are a few concepts. I will bring one of these to full color soon, hopefully in the new year!

Additionally, I sculpted a bust and draped some cloth over him to create a nice working model of the Emperor's face. I've wanted to do a portrait painting of the man, and this will be very helpful for lighting. 

"LOSING TIME", Poster Roughs

This year I have been very busy writing and rewriting, and then rewriting again the story for a graphic novel tentatively titled, "LOSING TIME". 

The story takes place in the same universe as HG Wells' 1895 classic, "The Time Machine", but is an expansion of that world and events. 

Since I am also currently enrolled in Pixar Production Designer Steve Pilcher's Production Design course at the Animation Collaborative, I thought I would focus my class efforts on moving forward with this project to see where it would lead with some really great feedback.

Immediately, Steve assigned "mood boards", story beats and other art that visualizes a general tone of the story, but only in three values. The idea here is to get a strong composition and mood that identifies the feeling of the story. I decided to focus on act 2 of my story, and although these are likely to change dramatically as the script develops, these were an awesome exercise that I will likely take with me on virtually every project I design on.

After the mood boards, we moved on to poster roughs. Creating a poster or cover art go a long way towards representing the overall motifs of the story. Working on this exercise has really helped me to think more deeply about the motivations and core ideas of the story I am developing in a way that I might not have otherwise thought of. 

Here are are my initial roughs. 

I will likely pick one of these from the second page, perhaps incorporating a border as well. I'll post the final after I finish it in a few weeks,  probably a week or two after CTN in Burbank this week! :)

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!


This year I took up the opportunity to advertise in the CTN Sketchbook, a collectible printed sketchbook you can buy. I created this ad using some of my art. The book is in black and white, and because of that I submitted this piece in black in white. The 2015 sketchbook should be available in a few weeks at the


I liked the composition a lot, so I also created it in color, too. I also made a bookmark of "The Act". I will have both color bookmarks while at the show. If you see me ask for one - they're free! Ping me at @Paintkatt on Twitter if you're at the show and want a bookmark!


Thanks for reading!

BACCA workshop with Michael Klein

"Every worthwhile art movement supports and encourages it's members to become better at what they do." - quote from Michael Klein.

This summer I have been very busy taking a Maya modeling class while I am also working on a personal project. Although most of the work I've been doing involves staring into my computer screen for most of the day, when I heard artist Michael Klein would be teaching a floral still life workshop at the Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier, otherwise known as BACCA, I jumped at the chance. 

Here are just a few examples of Michael Klein's work, focusing on his florals. His work encompasses figures, still lives, and semi-narrative pieces, all done in a painting manner that brings the spirit of the subject to life with energetic, yet carefully planned brushwork. Much more of Klein's work can be seen on his website:

I love the textures and depth that he paints in his floral arrangements. They remind me a little of Fantin Latour florals while still being all his own.

 Michael Klein's progress shot from his blog on his website. GORGEOUS!


The Bay Area Classic Artists Atelier is a wonderful traditional 19th century atelier right in the midst of an industrial park very near to Silicon Valley in San Carlos, California. The studio itself, run by tireless founder Linda Dulaney and a few dedicated studio hands, was comfortable to work in, providing taborets to store our supplies during the week, daily snacks, coffee, and relevant reading material on hand.

The atelier has a wide array of on-going workshops, courses and a once a week open studio with a model. During Michael Klein's floral painting workshop, next door in the adjoining studio, Dan Thompson was conducting a gross anatomy course with afternoon visits to Stanford's lab to study from a real specimen. I loved that there was a lot of great art on the walls that was not only Linda's, but also artists who have taught there, including great anatomy breakdowns on big sheets of butcher paper. Inspiring!



Michael Klein provided us with an interesting palette of colors and arrangement I have not seen before now with lead white or titanium white in between his yellow and orange hues. Interestingly, he begins his arrangement with Viridian. Omitting Cadmium Red, he instead included Cadmium Orange. He also includes Ivory Black on his palette. Just past Ivory Black, low saturated colors sit towards the end of the palette arrangement with Raw and Burnt Umber. Colors are as follows in this arrangement:

Old Holland Viridian Green Deep
Michael Harding Raw Sienna
W and N Yellow Ochre Pale
W and N Cadmium Yellow Pale
Rublev Lead White no. 2
OH Cad. Orange
W and N Burnt Sienna
W and N Perm. Alizarin Crimson
OH Quincinadrone Magenta
W and N Cobalt Violet
W and N Cobalt Blue
OH Ultramarine Blue
OH Ivory Black
OH Raw Umber
OH Burnt Umber

Mediums used were simply Gamsol for cleaning brushes, which he uses mostly on the first day to thin down the paint a little if it's too thick or sticky. After day one, he uses a widely known mixture known as "fat medium", equal parts linseed oil plus damar varnish. In later stages of his paintings, he makes use of Rublev Oleogel to thicken up paint strokes and add texture. Paint rags were Viva paper towels.

I did not have Oleogel for the class, so Michael gave me a tiny smidgen to test out. The gel is used for glazing, but also for adding body and flow to the oil paint on top layers. It is truly amazing stuff. I ordered a big vat of it along with the lead white. Michael noted that with Lead White he will sometimes mix it with a few drops of walnut oil to loosen up the stiff mixture. (He also uses stack white from Rublev to create texture, although he wasn't using it in this workshop.)

Surface and Easel: Like many painters lately, Michael Klein paints on dibond, an inexpensive but very durable metal composite that is easy to order. It comes in one big sheet that arrives with a light primer on top, which he sands and then cuts into smaller pieces, after which he applies either gesso or lead gesso on top. Dibond sheets are easy to cut with a box cutter, which you can use to make scores and then break off into smaller sizes. Also, since the sheets are magnetic, they work really well with the magnetized holding mechanism of the Edge Pro pochade box, which he was using with a tripod. (I have one as well - it's very durable and sleek, although I can't recommend it for carrying around on long hikes because of the weight.)

Brushes: In our workshop, Michael Klein mostly used synthetic rounds. Rosemary and Company will be soon making a custom set of Michael Klein brushes which come with short handles and a pink rosey color he designed specifically for floral painting. I will definitely order a set!

Michael's custom brush set right under that tube of paint. 


Each of the four days of Michael Klein's workshop, he worked on a painting demo. He typically spends about 3-4 days working on a floral still life.

Mixed in with his natural flowers were two artificial flowers, which he doesn't like to use but did for this class. He noted that when flower companies make good quality artificial flowers, they mimic natural color patterns of the flower, like spray painting the joints of the stems and leaves with a little brownish overlay instead of one uniform green and will also boost saturation of petals. When using artificial flowers, you will need to understand the methods that manufacturers use to make their flowers appear real and compensate by using your observation and knowledge of real flowers. However, use real flowers whenever possible.

Michael's demo from the first day, pictured above. He explained that when it comes to floral paintings he usually spends the first day blocking in the first half, the second day the second half, third and fourth day for finishing and adjusting. Although he used to spend a lot of time making a detailed line drawing, which he then transferred to canvas, he no longer uses that method. These days he instead dives in with a block in of basic shapes, starting with the background area as a foil against the larger shapes and green leaves that typically sit underneath the main forms of the flowers. He sometimes uses a very soft fan brush to lightly brush over the background to knock down some edges and to avoid glare on the surface. He also noted that he tends to work from the center out, working on each shape one at a time.

My initial block in, above. Michael thought my background color was too far into the brown/warm tones so I worked on adjusting that the next day. I had been thinking I would warm up the cool ivory black background to be more warm, but he felt I should stick to the truth of what was in front of me because of the reflected light that worked into the flowers, especially the yellows. 

On the second day, after watching more progress on Michael's demo, I made color adjustments to the background, after which I spent a lot of my time making drawing adjustments in order to get the shape relationships to balance a bit better. Unfortunately, it was then that I noticed I placed everything too far to the left of the canvas. Michael told me I could emphasize the atmosphere in the background to compensate. Using light as an element of composition is always a plus, in my book. 

End of the second day I got most of the big areas in, adjusting drawing, color and value.

When I came in the on our third day, I was disappointed to find that almost the entire black background had sunk in, making the paint appear a dull lifeless black! Ugh! That might be ok in some situations, but in this case it really dulled out the color and made the flowers themselves look terrible. Michael explained to our class that sinking in happens when you paint over a dried layer of paint with no medium, which is why using some medium in subsequent layers is necessary. Sinking in can be fixed by either repainting or using spray touch varnish, which I couldn't use in this case because I would be painting all day and couldn't wait for the areas to dry. After some touching up and repainting, I realized I had lost the gesture and luminosity of the initial block in, which is so key to making florals feel fresh. A serious downer, but I pressed on. (incidentally, if I were at home working on this, it would be at this point I'd quit and start over)

You can see the sunken in areas especially in the black passages. The color here was completely painted over in order to correct the hues, but instead of remaining luminous, it flatted out and sunk into the canvas, creating a dullness. Yuk yuk yuk!!!

As for overpainting on a dry surface that already has oil paint, Michael explained that if you cut into paint with more turp (gamsol), the painting will crack, which is one reason, along with sinking in, that using a medium is necessary at this point. (In fact I have seen this happen in some of my own older floral paintings, a few of which I will not sell because of the cracking.) He likes to use linseed oil mixed with equal parts of damar varnish (a similar mixture "fat medium" that I've used in other classes). This along with Oleogel should be sufficient. It is OK to continue to clean brushes with gamsol, just as long as you don't cut the gamsol into your paint mixtures to thin down paint. (Don't panic if a few drops inevitably get in there, though!) A hard lesson to learn, but I will probably never forget...

After fixing what I could in the background, adding some light coming from the upper right, I pressed on, mainly working on the color relationships between the yellow flowers, and the white ones to the right. 

Michael had an interesting side demo (below) on the paint effects that can be had by layering pigments. For instance, the neutral warm background color, when brushed or scrubbed into the surface, appears warm. When that very same color is lightly scumbled over the same, but thinner color, it appears to be cooler. How awesome is that? Also, he layered on thicker colors like a basic warm burnt sienna/ultramarine blue mixture that serves well for green shadows and then worked up to a floral orange hue to show the depth that can be created with these particular mixtures. 

As for color mixing in general, he explained that he doesn't like to overmix his colors on the palette, but instead "loosely" mixes, keeping a bit of each original color separate, so that when the colors move on to the brush and then the painting, a light effect mixes them in our eyes, producing a color vibration. This is a technique I've seen before and used myself, especially with pastel paintings, and also have read about. Golden aged Illustrator Haddon Sundblom's painting method included using two pure colors on one brush to create a mixture directly on the canvas. I'm not sure if this method is an innovation by the Impressionists, but the idea of vibrating color via broken color and paint layers feels impressionist to me. 

Also, regarding color mixing on the palette, Michael encouraged everyone to create a "puddle of color" that is essentially a color portrait of the thing you are painting, otherwise you will end up with a lot of muddled color. My own tendency to dance around the palette with all sorts of mixtures usually leads to confusion at times, which I need to work on correcting. He does not create "strings" of color on the palette, instead he creates the middle hue, shadow and light hues all in one puddle.

During his demo, he spoke a bit about using a combo of observation vs. knowledge of form. He explained that Jacob Collins emphasized a thorough understanding of form and how light moves across it, and it was when he finally understood what that meant, that he finally made some breakthroughs in his work. He went on to explain that after painting the initial gesture on the first day, he will start thinking about what he knows about how light reacts on the surface of particular forms. Often, he will not look at the still life but instead focus on the object being painted, paying attention to the direction of the light source and modeling the form so that it reads clearly while still maintaining the beauty of the still life. 

This becomes particularly necessary when painting subjects like flowers, which change each day. When asked about his atelier training compared to how he paints now, he explained that in his current work, he is now concerned with evoking a mood or a feeling rather than rendering every bit of the subject in front of him, trying to find that balance between the truthful statement vs. gesture. 

For form painting demos, Michael recommended the excellent form painting lessons by fellow Grand Central graduate, Scott Waddell. I've seen all of Scott's videos and they are indeed incredibly useful.

My final painting, which I've cropped to make a more attractive composition.

On the fourth and final day, Michael helped me at the end make some value relationship adjustments and talked with me about editing to the highlight, which did not serve the overall painting as it was too eye catching and distracted from the main subject. His emphasis throughout the workshop was always on the final, poetic statement rather than a 1:1 rendering of the subject, which I agree with wholeheartedly.

Michael Klein's finished four day demo.

During his demo on the fourth day, he spent some time working again on the main white rose, making shifts to it because it had opened more fully than it was a few days earlier. Rather than repainting it entirely or making too many drawing adjustments, he simply added to it, explaining that he liked that the new additions added more variety to the painting.


Is it Alla Prima?

I think over the years that the term Alla Prima has become overused and misunderstood. Alla Prima is strictly a one session painting. That session might last a full 12 hour day, sure, but it is always one session, wet into wet. This came up because I think, generally speaking, people tend to assume that any painting that has a looseness to it is an Alla Prima statement. I asked Michael if his paintings are not AP, what are they? His answer was simple, they are just paintings! 

On a personal note, when I was first introduced to oil painting as an 18 year old art student at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and then at the Palette and Chisel where Richard Schmid and many other amazing artists were painting, I fell in love with what the medium could achieve and the promise of what I might be able to as well. I had never seen paint become so intriguing; sketchy, energetic brushwork that came together in harmony to represent everyday things like portraits and figures, still life, and animals with rich color and layers of texture. That is where I first heard the term Alla Prima, the painting approach that Richard Schmid popularized throughout the 80's and 90's and especially with the release of his book, Alla Prima. 

1993, I think. I believe this was a four hour demo. I mainly remember being so stunned at how quickly he was able get down rich color juxtaposed against greys in the white objects - and especially how loose and sketchy it all was. 

Of all those years, this unfortunately blurry photo along with the one above are all I took of the actual man. The majority of my photos taken were of actual works hanging on the walls in revolving shows, auctions or works in progress. I'm still kicking myself for taking these blurry photos! 

As much as I love a good Alla Prima sketch, my question has always been the same, how can I maintain the look of an Alla Prima sketch but work on it for multiple days without losing that fresh brushwork? Often, when I worked on a painting more than one day, many of the problems I encountered in this workshop were similar - sinking in, dry cracking paint, or thick paint that just looked dull and lifeless, overworked, over rendered, boring. I've always admired painters that are able to maintain a fresh feel in their longer pieces, giving the impression that the work was painted quickly and effortlessly. It was a pleasure to finally meet Michael Klein and get to chat with him about various ways to strategize and plan a painting to create a mood, a visual poetry, throughout a longer, more elaborate work. What a great experience, one that I will keep close throughout my new paintings.

Note: My next several updates will be a switch back to digital work for a personal project I am working on. Entirely different, and yet so many of the core concepts overlap one another. 

Thanks for reading!

Composition Breakdowns

In a recent class I took at the Animation Collaborative with the inspiring and seriously talented Armand Baltazar, we had an assignment to break down the compositions of narrative illustrations from visual development artists. We had to

1. write one sentence describing the story of the piece, 

2. describe the point of view (POV) of the piece, and 

3. describe the emotion intended by the piece. 

After that, we drew over the composition breaking down these elements:

 4. the division of the graphic plane (the graphic shapes that make up the composition),

5. Redline the division of depth and mark the foreground, middle ground, and far background,

6. Mark the center of interest,

7. Redline where the eye moves across the piece.

This was an excellent exercise in understanding the architecture of a picture and the thought that goes into guiding the viewers' eye directly to the center of interest. I highly recommend analyzing compositions in this manner for anything from drawings, paintings, and even sculptures to increase your own narrative compositional chops.  

Although the exercise appears simple, I learned a great deal by analyzing each piece. There were some pieces that I haven't posted which failed compositionally; the artist meant the eye to go to one place but unfortunately the eye focused elsewhere. 

THE TIME MACHINE: Visual Development with Armand Baltazar/Animation Collaborative

I recently took a visual development course at the Animation Collaborative taught by senior visual development artist Armand Baltazar, who has worked for many years in animated film, with credits on Dreamworks, "Shark Tale", "Spirit", and "A Bee Movie", as well as Disney's "Princess and the Frog", and more recently Pixar's "Cars 2", among many others. Of all the classes I've taken in recent years, I found this course to be perhaps the most exciting. I've always been deeply interested in visual storytelling, although I've not always had ideal opportunities to practice that very fine art to the fullest I've wanted. So when Armand's course came up on the roster and time in my schedule allowed, I jumped. Aside from my own interests,  I feel a good visual development class is an excellent experience for any artist at any level to go through. So many of us have grand ideas around stories, world building and stylization, but how many of us have really gone deep into our visual storytelling skills? If you've not had the opportunity to take such a class, I encourage you to find one or else pick up a few good "art of" books for film, games, and television.

 Regarding this specific class at the Animation Collaborative, I felt it was absolutely worth it. Armand was a fantastic teacher and really put in a lot of extra work and effort in teaching the class, even staying late to give back really valuable individual feedback, paint overs and advice tailored to each student. Each class was chock full of fantastic information about visual development, portfolio development, and tips and techniques for working quickly, as is required on any project in development.

For the class we each picked a classic book to visualize as an animated film. I picked HG Wells', "The Time Machine", a book that I illustrated years ago, but unfortunately didn't do a very good job of it due to the extremely rushed deadline. For years now I've wanted to revisit the story, and have imagined a reboot tailored toward an animated young adult film. I thought I'd share my character design concepts here, and later will share more development. Over the course of the next year I'll be working up ideas around this story and will share more as I solidify ideas.


My Time Traveler in my reboot of "The Time Machine" is a young woman in present day. When I draw character sketches, I like to keep a very, very simple line with almost no detail. I like to save any modeling or texturing for painting. I really enjoy the challenge of trying to capture a gesture in as few lines as possible.

I envision the Time Machine device to be wearable tech made up of everyday things like hacked ipads, iphones and a laser tag vest. Like in the original book, the time machine does not move the individual through space, but only through time.

Imagine what happens to those digits after thousands and thousands of years of swiping/touch technology… I enjoyed working on my take on the ELOI quite a lot. I envisioned them growing tall and thin with elaborate hairstyles and lots of adornments. 

 The Morlocks live in underground caves where they have evolved eyes that allow them to see in the complete darkness. They live amongst the ruins, pollution and grim of thousands of years of human corruption.

Below are some quick color comps and sketches of what I have been developing around story moment ideas. Most of these are pretty quick, like 2 hours each or even less in the case of sketches. All of these are meant to be exploratory in nature, and will eventually become more finished paintings. I can't wait to work on these!

 I've long been a fan of Douglass Trumbull, well known in the film industry for his innovative special effects on movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I wanted to emulate his effects in some way, and have envisioned the bottom row of images to be my take on time travel effects.

This is my quickie version of a future city, although I have plans to iterate on this a bit more. Given that our class was only 12 weeks and I only had the weekends to work on it, I felt that I didn't have enough time to really dig through this juicy subject. Looking forward to exploring some more concepts!

Hey, who doesn't need a hot Eloi boyfriend in the future? Actually, this is one aspect of the story that I am quite excited about: the friendship between The Time Traveler and Weena, in my version female (time traveler) and male (eloi). I think this can be resonate with the story themes in some unusual ways - I'm so excited to work some more on these ideas.

I actually have a number of additional sketches and comps, but they are still a little too compy to share. Hopefully soon! 

As I continue to develop my ideas I will post. I hope to put a little book together by sometime next summer, if all goes well. 

Thanks for reading!!!

Classical Realism with Sadie J. Valeri

Last January, I took a two week Classical Realism workshop taught by Sadie J. Valeri in her San Francisco studio.  
At the time I took the course, my interest in Classical Realism was purely practical. I paint at home nights and weekends, which for me has meant that the Alla Prima (wet into wet paint) method I was trained in at the Palette and Chisel and American Academy of Art, has required immediacy and speed, a process not well suited to my current working full time life style.

I thought perhaps the layered and methodical process of the Dutch/Flemish indirect process might provide me with a better working method, allowing me to work in stages rather than all at once, better suited to coming back over the course of several days and nights. While all of this is true, what I found after taking Sadie Valeri's course was far more enriching and enlightening than I'd expected.

Lundman-studio shot 2 -Sadie Valeri

For those unfamiliar with the term, Classical Realism refers
 to the contemporary rebuilding of a legacy of art instruction which developed from the Renaissance ateliers up through the 19th century Academies, which was nearly lost in the anti-figurative philosophies of the 20th century. Sadie uses a process of indirect painting that was developed by the Dutch and Flemish painters, but many ateliers use a two or sometimes three step process.

For further reading, you can find extensive information HERE at the Art Renewal Center website along with many examples of past and present works. (also a huge array of articles and information on schools)

Construction Exercises and Value Control

The first exercise we worked on was a value sphere. I wrote extensively about this exercise, the terms and lighting effects HERE. At first glance this exercise might appear simple. I assure you, it is not! Like practicing scales on the piano, the value sphere is the equivalent for artists.


After we we practiced the value sphere, we studied the principles of organic form in Nature, contour and shape, perspective, and how best to construct objects, including a fantastic lecture on ellipses. **note: for this blog post I will focus primarily on the painting method and will outline in later posts the important information regarding structure that I learned.

We began our still life painting by taping a sheet of mylar (vellum) paper to a board on our easels which were leveled in direct line with the still life set up. Using a viewfinder, we mapped out our composition by making small thumbnails. We then went over principles in construction of objects, breaking down our subjects into shapes using the straight line block in technique rather than sight size. **note: the two links are 1) example of a figure drawing using straight line block in from Sadie's blog and 2) a discussion on about sight size vs. other methods with good comments about non reliance upon sight size.


Each student's easel was set up almost at eye level with the still life. Our easels were set far enough away to make the set up just under life size, in this case about 4-5 feet away.The reason for this is practical; comparing side by side makes measuring and comparing easier rather than guessing and translating on to the page the size you would like the objects to be.


Also important to note here is that Sadie's studio is set up for North lighting, the most consistent form of natural light. We did not use any form of artificial lighting whatsoever for this course.

Materials for Painting

After we transferred our completed drawings to the gesso panel, we began painting. Here is a list of materials we used which can also be found on Sadie Valeri's website HERE:
Robert Simmons "White Sable" brushes with the maroon handles and white bristles (very affordable)
Filberts, 2 each of sizes #10, #4, and #1
Rounds, 2 each of size #1 (one brush for the light areas, one brush for the dark areas)
Refined Linseed Oil
Stand Oil
Odorless Mineral Spirits (Turpenoid)
Natural Turpenoid  (ONLY for cleaning brushes, never get it into your paint)
"Silicoil" brand brush cleaning jar filled with Natural Turpenoid 
Paint Rags:
Shop cloths are used (can be found at Home Depot) for the reason that other paper towels have too much lint - especially the popular Viva brand paper towels that many impressionist painters employ. 
classic wooden artist palette with thumb hole so we can pick it up or clip it to our easels.
(If it's brand new, brush on thick coats of linseed oil every night for several days/weeks and rub it into the surface or it will absorb oil paint.) 

**note: when I was in art school we used untempered masonite panels cut to size at Home Depot, which we coated with linseed oil in the same way. these have no thumb holes but are great palettes and can also be clipped to an easel if needed.
smoothly sanded gesso panel with no texture. Sadie makes her own panels (detailed blog post on her site HERE). You can also use Ampersand smooth panels or make your own. 

**note: Daniel Sprick mentioned in his workshop that he coats untempered masonite panels with shellac, then five coats of Golden brand gesso, the last few coats he sands with a belt sander, and then applies Alkyd white to obliterate the texture completely making a smooth surface.

First Stage of Painting
The Open Grisaille Layer

"Open Grisaille" means "dead grey layer" in French. The idea of this is a basic first pass of values that also creates a surface for later layers of paint to adhere to.

We began by mixing a thin layer of burnt umber, a touch of ultramarine blue, and small amount of white, thinned down with *only* turpentine. We used two brushes: one with paint and the other with turpentine on it which functioned as an eraser for mistakes.
We began by washing in the darkest dark in a thin layer. Rather than "swiping" in big strokes, we used small strokes, building our darks. This stage is called "open" grisaille because the white is the white of the panel - not white paint. This stage seems similar to watercolor in respect to how the paint is used, staining the paper in varying degrees of saturation, the white of the paper being the highest value. Here the "stain" is thinned oil paint on a very smooth panel. Thinking of it this way helped me through this layer.

This layer will eventually be completely covered up in the very next layer. However, skipping this step is not advised as it will help the oil paint bind to the surface of the very slick panel. I also found this step a good way to make "pathways" into the brain for understanding the nuances of how the light is working on the set up, kind of like a "warm up" for subsequent layers of paint.


Usually the open grisaille will take about six hours to dry. The panel must be dry before moving on to the next layer of paint.


The "Couch"

After our panels dried over night upon completion of our open grisaille, we came back the next day to apply the couch. In fact, after each step is completed and dried, it is almost always necessary to apply a "couch" layer of underpainting medium on to the panel.  A couch layer on a dried panel aids the application of the new paint layer and helps the paint absorb into the panel.

The underpainting medium (linseed oil + turp) should be applied in the thinnest layer possible using a clean large brush. Sadie will also sand between layers after applying the couch, (which is called wet sanding) using the finest possible sand paper tooth - #600 - in order to remove dust and lint that adheres to the panel over night. Many artists have various recipes for the couch - Sadie uses underpainting medium.

Also, we applied the couch only to an area we were working on that day  because if we oiled an area we weren't painting, over the course of the day the oil would drip or become gummy.

**note: a good source for information about couching is in the book, Oil Painters Handbook, an encyclopedia that documents time tested techniques for oil painting materials and methods.

Closed Grisaille - The Black and White Value Layer 

After the Open Grisaille step, we moved on to the "Grisaille" layer or Closed Grisaille stage. More information on the history of this method can be found HERE. This layer involves white paint and is completely monochromatic.

The colors we used to mix this grey are French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna,
and Titanium White.


We mixed seven values, counting white as value one and near to black as seven. This in itself I thought was an excellent exercise for understanding how best to boil the infinite value scale down to a workable palette.


**Side Note: These black and white values are really warm greys. If you are not familiar with the differences between true cool greys, neutral greys, and warm greys, I highly recommend going to the art supply store nearest you and looking at sets of markers or gouache sets. You will notice the difference between the shifts between them, and it will help you gain an understanding of how how cool, neutral, and warm colors work. You could also buy some sets in three values of each marker and do some exercise sketching. When I worked as a background painter in the 90's, very often I would do value studies using these three greys - it is amazing at how "full" the color can look when really there is no color at all (or very little chroma, which is what is really going on).


After mixing up our value strings, I was more than eager to cover up the open grisaille layer. Again, I found interesting information regarding how best to apply the paint that was quite different from the Alla Prima technique I was trained in. A lot of artists learn to apply paint in values that "band" together and then blend those value bands. Sadie instructed us that this methodology does not produce a truly accurate and nuanced representation of the values and causes loss of control. It is better to instead think of the paint as small tiles that move across the form, painting each as a very small "dab" - not swiping at all - moving across the form rather than up and down. It is important not to rush or feel like you need to get it all down in one day. The importance here lies in getting as accurate as possible the values of the set up before moving on to the color stage.


I love the look of a palette at the end of the day, although I don't recommend having your open can of diet hansen's ginger ale next to all those solvents. :) However, Sadie also instructed us to always keep the lids on our solvents and mediums while we painted to reduce the toxic effect in the air as much as possible. I was amazed at how six students were painting and yet the room barely smelled of paint at all! (a nice thing for anyone with asthma like myself)


 The Color Layer

After working a couple of days on refining the closed grisaille, black and white layer, we moved on to color.

the colors on the palette below, from left to right: Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson Permanent, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian Green, Mars Red, Burnt Umber.   


At this stage in the workshop, Sadie lectured about COLOR. Instead of getting into the ins and outs of this chart, I will post the Munsell chart. If you are a digital artist using Photoshop, you will find this easy to understand since Photoshop uses this color wheel system. If you are new to this concept, I suggest reading more about this HERE:

Munsell Color Chart


When I began laying in the initial color, I found it difficult to get the paint to adhere to the black and white layer with out picking up some of the black and white paint, which was muddying the color. To make sure this doesn't happen, make sure the closed grisaille layer is completely dry before applying color. I did appreciate the black and white layer, however, because I felt it made the color layer easier to focus on. Because the values were already noted carefully, I did not have to think about the value as much, which left me thinking about chroma and saturation instead. Nice!


Here we started by mixing up the dark color of an object, the light color and a mid tone. We painted thicker in the lights and thinner in the shadows, commonly referred to as "thick over lean", concentrating on the lights rather than the dark colors. We typically mixed a "string" of color before painting an object.

Another important difference I discovered between Alla Prima and Classical Realism was the handling of the highlight. Typically in Alla Prima, I would paint the warm tan-grey of the bottle first and then lay the highlight on top of that layer. When faced with the highlight in this set up, that is exactly how I began to do until Sadie intervened, explaining that in Classical Realism everything is painted right next to each other. In other words, the highlight is painted right next to the bottle color rather than on top of - sometimes referred to as "windowing".

** note: In addition, when I attended a Timothy Jahn demo at Sadie's studio in October of this year, he also mentioned this same thing: that he paints only a small section of a painting at a time, bringing it to full completion and then moves on, moving out and around the painting from there. (Visit his website here)


In the above photo you can see the black and white layer was mixing with my color. I found the next day when the layer had completely dried, the color went on cleaner without picking up the layer underneath. Be sure that b&w layer is dry!


My set up included a crumpled brown paper bag, which I was not able to complete. I mainly focused on the egg and dish, bottles and two glasses. I quite enjoyed this step and could have worked on it for much longer, but at this point the two week course was finished.
My semi-finished painting, above.

 Demonstration and Lecture Photos
Sadie J. Valeri lecturing while she demo'd the grisaille "dead layer". I noticed how light her open grisaille layer was compared to mine. You can't tell in this photo below, but the paint barely made any texture at all on the surface.
Three eggs in three steps, by Sadie J. Valeri. First, the pencil construction, second, black and white value layer, third, full color (although there is an open grisaille step before the black and white stage):


Here is Sadie's finished egg from the demo she started in the above photos. As you can see, her skill is well honed! It looked even better in person.


Final Thoughts

The methods used in this kind of painting were commonly taught in Ateliers in Europe and America, but diminished during the late 1800's through 1900's during the age of deconstruction in Western Art. (which happened in all the arts, including writing, dance, architecture, sculpture, poetry, etc) A revival has been taking place over the last thirty years for artists who wish to learn Classical painting methods driven by those who have a deep desire to depict Nature in it's true visual state. As a result, Classical Realism has become a richly poetic form of visual art in recent years thanks to the many Ateliers popping up all over the US and Europe and support by collectors world wide.

But what if you don't have a desire to paint in this manner? While I see a lot of painters begin at workshops that are loosely structured and sometimes even stylistic, I highly recommend that students begin with Classical Realism. Additionally, if you have already attended art school, Classical Realism studies will solidify accumulated knowledge and enhance an understanding of visual principles. Every form of painting, Impressionism, Alla Prima, Naturalism, even Abstract Expressionism is an off shoot of this hundreds year old tradition. Modernist avant guard schools function as a reaction to and against Classical Art tradition. Knowing this, why not fully understand the founding principles of technique and explore the truths of Nature? Once an understanding is mastered and practiced, along with the philosophy and historical context, exploring areas of visual expression is borne out of a place of understanding and relevance with a nuanced and intended expression of a visual idea. 

Lundman-studio shot 1 -Sadie Valeri

As for me,  I have spent most of this year using my vacation time and weekends to take workshops of all kinds, and truly enjoyed them all. Because of this, I have intentionally put off my personal work. I still have a great deal of questions and interests to explore, which I hope to address in my own paintings next year. I will definitely be using this technique for many of my studio works and am very eager to start!

Weekend with the Masters - Daniel Sprick Demo

On the last day of the Weekend with the Masters, hosted by American Artist Magazine, I took a one day workshop with an artist I have admired for years, Daniel Sprick.

The painting conference was structured so that students could take several one-day courses, choosing one instructor for each day (look to my two previous blog posts for other instructors courses I attended). All twenty instructors were master painters on the Realist fine art scene; quite an impressive roster with a wide span of approaches and philosophies ranging from the alla prima direct painters, to the Rembrandt school of thought, to the Classical Realists of the East Coast atelier scene to the many noted plein air painters of the West coast.

I was surprised and delighted when I saw Daniel Sprick's name on the roster since I had never before seen offerings of workshops taught by him in the past; this was a rare treat to meet the artist I have admired for so long. I was not disappointed.

An excerpt from an article written about him on his website:

"A Vermeer-like glow infuses many of Daniel Sprick’s paintings, often falling on objects from some unseen source. It spreads arbitrarily through his interiors, picking out this tangerine and that bottle, causing their color and form to bloom, submerging other parts of the painting in warm shadow. From Vermeer too, comes the suggestion of worlds within worlds. Oriental rugs imply distant exotic places (and perhaps Sprick’s obsession with flying via magic carpet as well). Paintings and fine art prints tacked to walls, tantalizing reflections in a blank television screen, figures half-seen through distant doorways enhance the notion of time and distance. Daniel Sprick also revisits the tradition of the still life as memento mori. Yet again, in these contemporary works, the traditional images of decay and dissolution –faded flowers, broken china, eggshells, a human skull---are leavened with humorous elements such as nibbled cookies and a seeping stain that spreads from a paper bag to the book it stands on. "
-- Jane Fudge
Jane Fudge is assistant curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum, and a visual art and film critic.

Daniel Sprick, "Passage", 36x30, oil on board

Two interviews, the first from the Denver Art Museum, and the second, below, an excerpt from American Painting Video Magazine:


Because the conference was expensive to attend, I appreciated Sprick's thoughtful note on the supply list that mentioned that we could use whatever supplies we already had. He provided a list of his specific materials also, and indicated that we were welcome to use those if we chose but that it was not necessary.**

His supply list can be found here.

However, for this demo, Sprick was using Royal Talens water based oils that were provided as samples from a representative from Royal Talens/Canson at the conference. He used them all weekend in order to test them out, and seemed to like the results.

Sprick explained his process for preparing panels at home, which are Masonite panels primed with golden sandable gesso. The medium he uses with his oils is Liquin.

Sprick - grisaille 1

He began by drawing out an accurate silhouette of the head using angular lines rather than curves. After he figured out the height, width, and overall shape, he then filled in the shape of the head with a thin wash of a warm sienna-like tone. This under painting technique is called a grisaille or dead layer, which many artists use as a base for subsequent paint layers. 

Sprick - grisaille 2

He intentionally left the area around the head white since he has been creating a lot of figurative works in his studio with a white background as a compositional element. Sprick's aesthetic for portraits and figures often employs stark white backgrounds foiled against a fully painted realistic portrait or full figure. He explained some of his influences in this direction, referring to a Renaissance painter, who's name I unfortunately did not catch, that also played with this idea. Additionally, contemporary print media often make use of photographed figures photoshopped against a white background, a visual motif surrounding us today.


After he finished the flat, wash of the silhoutte, he began to paint on top of the grisaille, filling in the shadow areas as one connected shape all over the head (below) with a thicker consistency of paint.

Sprick - grisaille 3

Sprick then mixed up the colors of the light in big piles from which he also used as a base for mixing middle tones.

Sprick - palette 2

At this stage, he began to lay the paint on thicker and in a "dabbing" manner instead of blending brush strokes together, carefully modeling the forms of the light.

Sprick - color 1

He continued in this manner, slowly building up the light, mid tones, and adding further shape to the darker values.

Sprick - color 2

It wasn't until this stage that he added the sharpest, darkest values and the lightest lights. 

  Sprick - color 3

After he added these accents, it seemed to be a matter of adding a few very small accents in the highest range of the light in order to shore up the accuracy of the portrait.

Sprick - color 4

It may look as though there are a lot of meticulous brush strokes on this portrait, however up close I noticed the painting was far more economical than I'd realized. Sprick has such command of the figure that he is able to make incredibly exacting choices.

Sprick-finished demo
The finished demo, Daniel Sprick, 2011

Below are two additional demonstrations he painted from other sessions:

Sprick - head demo 2

Sprick - head demo

During the break at lunch time and before we painted from the model, Sprick showed us a slide show of his STUNNING portrait work on his ipad. He also talked about his interests in lighting for his still life paintings, using unusual sources of light including hot, artificial spotlights (on occasion) and interesting bounce light effects, like mirrors with blue gel on top, which bounces back into the set up. He also glazes areas of his paintings after they are completed if he finds the composition is not working the way he prefers, using the glazes to either push back or pull forward specific elements of his still life.

It was truly a joy to be in the same room with Daniel Sprick, talk with him and paint. I will not soon forget the experience!

** The Weekend with the Masters was quite expensive (for me), considering the cost of the course, $1200, the fee for the hotel (I shared a room which came to about $500), PLUS additional supplies for each chosen instructor and dining fees. Thankfully I traveled by car, saving on air fare and cutting the cost.  I suggest to the hosts at America Artist Magazine to increase the attendance among the student population, that they include a discounted student rate much like the CTN Expo does for the Animation industry students.

Weekend with the Masters - Quick figure painting with Susan Lyon

A few years ago I had stopped fine art painting entirely due to a very busy illustration work schedule, which took me very far away from my practice of life drawing and painting the figure. It was around 2006 when I visited Susan Lyon's website, a former classmate at the American Academy of Art and Palette and Chisel Art League friend, that I became inspired again to continue to push forward and develop my observational figure painting and drawings.

I was so happy when I found that Lyon was also getting into oil quick sketching on vellum, a medium we used in art school to save on canvas, and even happier to learn she would be teaching her approach to oil quick sketch at the Weekend with the Masters, hosted by American Artist Magazine, in Monterey, California!

Here are a few samples from her blog:


All of these are oil on vellum, 45 minute poses. Also on her blog is a link to a video she made further explaining her technique.

I also have the pleasure of owning a few pieces by Lyon. While we were in school at the American Academy of Art, I posed for my classmates on Friday afternoon. (clothed - I'm not THAT brave) At the end of the session, I was surprised when Sue gave me her watercolor painting (below, left). I still have it on my wall at home along with a pastel drawing (below, right) that I purchased from her in 2006.


It was so fun to see her again after all these years. Susan Lyon is a delightful and energetic teacher who gladly shares her process with students. Below are a few shots and notes from her one day demo at Weekend with the Masters. Enjoy!


Lyon - WWMdemo - palette 2

On her Open Box M glass palette, Lyon mixed big areas of color with a somehwhat limited palette, variations on red, yellow and blue. In this session she used a convenience color for the flesh, Caucasian Flesh, Charvin Rubine Lake, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Orange plus Titanium White. Lyon explained that the small amount of cadmium orange was for sharper richer color accents which are usually found in the hands and feet where the flesh typically becomes more reddish.

Also, as far as medium, the only one she uses is mineral spirits to wash her brushes when switching colors, which you can see on the bottom left in the photo below. To wipe off the brushes, she uses Viva paper towels.

Lyon - WWMdemo - palette

She proceeded to mix up a few big piles of paint so that she didn't have to worry so much about mixing during the 45 minute pose. She then tapes a 14x17 piece of vellum (she has tried many variations and feels an artist needs to find which one they prefer) to a white board, and then proceeds to paint the largest shadow mass with a large bristle brush using the warm brown tone she mixed on her palette.

Lyon - WWMdemo

Lyon explained that after she lays in the shadow shape rather loosely, she then defines the color mass of the light areas using a loose sight size method which has become like second nature after painting for many years. 

She simplifies her brushstrokes as much as possible, using only mid range values, feeling that the middle ranges tend to give a more life like feel for the figure. The only dark accents she adds are very small touches toward the end of the session.

Lyon - WWMdemo3
Lyon said that she tries not to stress out too much about the exact hue on the model, and that her color is not super exact "true" color. Rather, it is relative to the palette that she sets up, working within the context of those colors. For instance, the green cloth depicted in the photo below was actually black, but she wanted to show the warmth of the skin tone against a cooler color.

Lyon - quick sketch demo WWMasters
Susan Lyon's finished demo, oil on vellum, 45 minute pose.

In the afternoon students did three 45 minute poses. I had a hard time getting used to the vellum; it's literally been over 15+ years since I've painted on it. By the third pose I started to get the feel of it. Here is my 3rd 45 minute quick pose.

Lundman-quick oil pose

I would really like to get a group together to practice quick poses in oil. I currently attend a Tuesday night figure long pose session and Thursday night sculpting, so adding one more night is pushing it...still, I would love to do this. Quick poses in oil would be good practice for getting the form down quickly while also abbreviating color, only putting down what is necessary. I imagine after a year or two of weekly practice, an artist would make huge leaps!

Weekend with the Masters - David Jon Kassan demo

David Jon Kassan is an artist I was really excited to meet and study with at the painting conference I recently attended, American Artist's Weekend With the Masters, in Monterey, California.  Aside from his technique and acute observational abilities, Kassan has been an artist I've admired for his subject matter and unusual juxtaposition of realist figures against street art or other interesting abstract textures. 

I've also enjoyed the videos he has put together, particularly a portrait on an ipad tablet using the ArtRage app as well as traditional portrait sessions of people around where he lives in Brooklyn, NY.  If you haven't watched them yet, be sure to check out his blog and enjoy.

From Kassan's artist statement on his website:

My influences are understandably just as contradictory as they have fed and connected my perspective on painting. I am constantly seeking out work that is congruent with my own which has led me to explore the work of life size old master paintings, urban stencil and graffiti street art, Marcel Duchamp's found objects, abstract paintings by Robert Rauschenberg, and finally the sheer conceptual and executed realism of Caravaggio.

A flexible and open mind. I like that.

Notable supplies for the day included pan pastel in black, Generals charcoal pencils in blacks, greys, and white, a custom maul stick he made using a collapsible tent pole and coat hanger, and binoculars...

Kassan's drawing supply list can be found here.


He began the demo on toned paper in a mid range moving up or down the value scale in order to model the form. He started by massing in the key darks of the eye sockets, under the nose and mouth with black Pan Pastel.





After he laid in the darks, he refined them by looking into a set of a binoculars at the model (not the drawing) to find the exact edges of these shapes and adjusting with an eraser. I had never before seen an artist use binoculars and was really curious to know how he was using them.

Kassan explained that the binoculars aid in finding the exact edges of shadow shapes and help in observing specifically where forms turn. He told us that occasionally students find this device controversial. His view is that while yes, binoculars are an optical aid, the mind and the hand are still creating the work; an artist still has to understand the form well enough to know what to look for in the first place as well as translate what is being seen on to the page. I have no problem with this myself. I wear eyeglasses for the same reason so binoculars to me feel like essentially the same thing.


After he adjusted and refined the shadow shapes with a tuff stuff eraser, he used a white General's pencil employing crosshatching, another departure from my own training and one that attracted me to Kassan's work.


As he continued to refine the form in the light and add more depth and accuracy to the darks, he explained further about his use of crosshatching with white in the light tones. He follows each form around the face according to the natural grain that grows on that particular feature, something he learned from Costa Vavagiakis, with whom he studied at The Art Student's League in NYC. Years later Kassan learned from a doctor who was also a student of his that there is a medical term for this concept, Langer lines !!!





Kassan's finished 3 hour demo drawing:


It was cathardic for me to hear about Kassan's use of white pencil, crosshatching and langer lines. A seemingly innocent thing like cross hatching has become a bit of a flash point in my personal art.

Many years ago, while I was in high school, I became completely obsessed with Langer lines, although at the time I didn't realize that is what they were. I had been at a local book store and discovered the Dover Press Alphonse Mucha's Figurative Decoratives, a book which remains incredibly inspiring to me to this day. I stopped experimenting with this technique when I went to art school because I learned that lines do not exist in Nature, that light illuminates volume creating tones rather than lines. Additionally, when I began to study at the Palette and Chisel during the early 90's, this idea was reinforced quite powerfully as tone being the best way to accurately depict light in Nature.

While this concept might be actual fact, it does not take into account that visual language is a human way of depicting our world on to two dimensional surfaces. During a lecture given by Quang Ho, he mentioned line as a part of visual language - and it caused a bit of an on stage controversy. (more about this in subsequent posts)

 I have always loved the line work in Mucha's life drawings throughout the years; It was the addition of using white plus line work in the lights that attracted me to Kassan's work and in my personal life I know so many comics artists who use line ONLY to create absolutely stunning work. It was a relief to hear from another artist in the fine art Realist community who is intrigued by cross hatching and line work and makes no apologies about it.

Further, during the above portrait demo, Kassan mentioned that he felt it was a good idea to try out various techniques in order to find what fits your personal temperament - also an idea that resonates with me.

MuchaFiguresDecoratives-1 MuchaFiguresDecoratives-2

a nice flickr set of Alphonse Mucha's Figurative Decoratives can be found here.

Here are some of my more recent experimentations using Langer lines: 

"Bilge" pastel pencil on Strathmore paper, 9 x 12 


"Tiffany", brown and white pastel pencil on Canson's Mi Tientes paper
*note: this might have been more effective had the lines followed the forms on the face and body - and if the hand were more accurately drawn.

What I've learned over time, perhaps more than anything else, is that the art community is rife with opinions about the 'right' way. It is quite easy as a young and eager student to be overwhelmed by a Master, especially as I was genuinely blown away by some of the artists around me and wanted to paint exactly like they did.

Later in life, I have begun to realize my own internal temperament is different than those who influenced me in school, but they are still difficult to to ignore; I want to explore the idea of drawing with lines and yet I feel horribly when I do because it is the opposite of what I was taught. The only way I can address it is to break away from that line of thinking completely and put my fine art work "on hold" while I experiment with whatever I seem to gravitate toward.

So far it has been an interesting journey in finding my original influences, the things that attracted me to drawing before I even went to art school which are still deep within like a burning ember that never went out.

”…pay attention to the urges that motivate you…it’s your job to make it yours…not to judge it or compare it to other expressions…no artist is pleased…it’s just a divine dissatisfaction…a blessed unrest that keeps us marching…and makes us more alive...”
Martha Graham

Words of Wisdom

"I want to paint like a pig eats." 

Last week I attended the Weekend with the Masters, in Monterey, California. The weekend is a conference with some of the top American Realist painters in the fine art scene. 

Painter Richard Schmid kicked off the event by giving a fabulous lecture about his adventures through a life time of painting, during which he stated that he wanted to paint like a pig eats. He explained what he meant: without holding back, without feeling self conscious and indulgence in the act of painting.

Schmid_paintlike pig eats 

This phrase, "to paint like a pig eats", was repeated throughout the workshop days mostly joking around by student painters and instructors. On the last day I took Daniel Sprick's demo, during which he said that in a later conversation Schmid elaborated that the statement was derived from a critic's quote regarding Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla when his paintings were exhibited at the 1933 World's Fair held in Chicago. The critic scoffed at the direct painting method Sorolla used and wrote, "He paints like a pig eats!"
Walk on the Beach, 1909 - Sorolla
To which Schmid is clearly stating that indulgence in painting is OK. Why shouldn't it be?

Overall, the Weekend with the Masters was a lot of process and philosophy from various top fine artists. However, most interesting were the panel discussions that tackled ponderous big questions and definitions around what Realism really means. (as a Sci Fi fan, I love contemplating what reality is - and was surprised to find many Realist painters think about such things too!)

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for my notes, photos and discussion. I am eager to share!
Lundman - paintingpig

Weekend with the Masters

The second week of September I am taking a four day intensive seminar called Weekend With the Masters, organized by American Artist magazine.

weekend w masters

The seminar is in Monterey, California, which is about a three hour drive from San Francisco. The location is a major plus because the seminar weekend is expensive, running about $1200 for four days plus the hotel and materials; saving on the additional airfare makes it more in the affordable range.

It is going to be a grand weekend and a reunion of sorts too. Some of the painters teaching at the seminar are friends that I went to school with at the American Academy of Art and the Palette and Chisel - artists who really raise the bar for this kind of intensive. It will be so great to see my friends who have gone on to lead successful fine art careers and catch up, while also learning a little more of their well honed painting skills. As you can imagine, I had a difficult time choosing who I would study with.

In the end, I chose to mix it up a bit with artists I am already well familiar with and artists that are entirely new to me, who come from differing schools of thought than what I have been trained in. 

Here are a few of the artists I will be studying with:

A full day lecture by Jacob Collins, the founder of the Water Street Atelier, The Grand Central Academy of Art and Hudson River Fellowship. I am so excited to finally be able to meet him and attend this lecture. He will be lecturing with Daniel Graves of the Florence Academy  and Joseph McGurl:
Collins - wwm profileGraves - wwm bioMcGurl - wwm bio

An evening painting demo by master alla prima painter Richard Schmid. I had the honor of attending the Palette and Chisel in Chicago while Richard Schmid was president of the art league. Schmid's lectures and demos changed my life...what more can I say? Richard will be painting artist Alexy Steele:
Schmid - wwm profile

A full day of quick pose paintings with Sue Lyon. I have been a fan of Sue's since meeting her back in art school. She was always a really nice friend and even helped get me into the Palette and Chisel long ago. How could I ever forget! She was a great painter then and even better now (I even have a watercolor portrait she painted of me in art school. I'll post it someday.):
Lyon - wwm profile

Drawing the portrait with David Kassan. Who can forget the famous you tube demo David did on the ipad  - It will be really cool to learn from him. I love his work:
Kassan - wwm profile

Lecture with Quang Ho. Of all the direct/alla prima painters out there, Quang Ho is one of my favorites. His still life paintings have not only a fresh feel but also incredible composition and sense of Zen. I dream of owning one of his works someday. Listening to his unusual philosophy about painting is bound to be an amazing learning experience.

Ho - wwm profile
Here is a little of his biography, in his own words:

"Realism and abstraction—it's all the same to me. The real essence of painting is the dialogue between shapes, tones, colors, textures, edges, and line. Everything else follows—including light, form, concepts, personal beliefs, and inspirations. For me, painting is a marriage between the mastery of those basic visual elements, the discoveries and understanding of visual statements (the search for what is true on a personal level artistically), and the trust in one’s own intuition and inspiration. Understanding gives rise to higher understanding. Working this way allows me to open the door to new ideas and inspirations. One day I may be interested in a color statement, the next perhaps a relationship of simple shapes, and the next an extremely complex arrangement of texture and edges—with every painting there is a singular visual thought to be completed." :

A full day of painting the figure with Daniel Sprick. Sprick is another of my favorite painters. I am really excited to paint with him!
Sprick - wwm profile

I will break down my notes on this blog and show the work I did for each day. If we are allowed to take photos, I will post those too. I am eager to learn about the different philosophies and approaches to observational painting.

I am still continuing to work on my "Spring" painting, but my busy schedule has forced me to put it on hold until after this course. I have booked a model for the pose and will be taking reference photos. I am interpreting the form into an stylized figure with some bits of fantasy, which is my intention with this subject, but will explain why I need reference for this particular painting.

I also have two sculptures in the works, which I will post about once they are complete. One is a portrait of an older man and the other a greyhound - the first animal sculpture I've ever attempted. I'm not sure if either will turn out to be successful sculptures, but I'll post about it regardless.


3Greyhound -WIP 8-20

I am eager to continue sharing the things I learn and experience on my blog.
Thank you for visiting!

Bill Cone Plein Air pastel workshop

For Valentine’s Day this year, Jamie gave me a three day weekend trip to Bill Cone’s pastel plein air workshop in Idyllwild, California. :))

 If you are unfamiliar with Bill Cone, he is a Production Designer at Pixar and has worked on many of their films. His position at Pixar is similar to that of a cinematographer, but since the medium is cg animation, his concepts for lighting and atmosphere are painted and usually include both environments and characters for the film. This process helps not only the director to visualize, but also aids the production down the road when scenes are built and lit. In addition to his stellar filmography and illustration history, Cone is an accomplished landscape painter who passionately studies the behavior of light and color. To see some of Cone’s work, check out his blog HERE. (I highly recommend reading his thoughts and insight on the blog in addition to looking at his beautiful pastel paintings)

Lundman_workshop peeps

I have admired Bill Cone’s work for a long time being familiar with it through the various “Art of” movie books, and became more impressed when I went to his one man show of pastel plein air works at the Studio Gallery in San Francisco. I was delighted to learn that he also teaches workshops, and have since wanted to attend. I was so surprised when Jamie gave me a Valentine's Day gift of signing me up for the workshop, especially since I had tried to sign up myself and found the class full! :)

Bill’s approach to pastel painting reminds me of the impressionist style of thinking capturing the LIGHT and SHADOW, as opposed to the Classical Realist approach regarding documentation of exacting detail. Precise placement of detail is a lower priority in this workshop, the emphasis on capturing the light patterns, color temperature, atmospheric effects, composition and over all impression of the scene. Focusing on placement of each and every branch or leaf might be better suited to studio work afterward if one chooses to create a highly precise work, but while out in the field, prioritizing everything ELSE seems to work best. In fact, the scene really cannot be observed properly unless you squint down, do some interpretation, a few edits, and simplification to a degree.

(In fact, Scott Christensen's blog "Flow" also posted about this kind of editing and interpretation in landscape painting: The Fiction of Art.)
In addition to listening to Bill's approach to landscape painting, I learned what a fantastic medium pastels are for painting out doors. One of the best advantages is the physical property of the medium, large square pieces which force you to choose big shapes and commit straight away. The most difficult aspect for me was this very thing because I am so accustomed to fine detail work in figurative drawing and illustration at my job. I also like the idea of laying in color all around the picture for the purpose of being able to judge how correct each area is against another and adjusting as you continue to develop the scene. Much like alla prima painting, the first statements around the picture are increasingly accurate as experience is gained.

Bill recommended that we purchase a set of hand made landscape pastels from Terry Ludwig. After trying them, I see why; the feel of them is so rich and buttery, and make beautiful opaque marks in addition to softer more subtle ones. I bought the basic landscape set which seemed to have each and every color I need. A great buy!


Bill also required us to work on Canson Mi Tientes toned paper, Twilight and Tabacco (shown above). Some students mentioned that they like to work on sanded and toned pastel paper called Waichilus because it is more forgiving. I might try it in the future, although I rather like the Cansons (I also use it for life drawing). It took a few tries to get used to working on toned paper outdoors, as I was unaccustomed to using a dark surface. The best way to regard the brown surface is the think of it as your mid range value and work either up or down from there. Same with the blue paper, if the scene in front of you is higher key then it most likely requires the lighter blue toned paper. 

I must add here the rich brown tone might also work well for portraiture, as often times the shadows are a nice Transparent Oxide Red or Burnt Sienna-ish color. Most organic form has an undertone of warm, which is a good starting point for laying color on top.

Here are some of my plein air sketches from the workshop.


This painting was the very first I tried with pastels. I was uneasy and nervous considering that I had not ever used them before (except for ONE homework assignment way back in art school) and was used to working on white canvas rather than a deep brown color. Bill helped me punch up the contrast and showed me some ideas regarding technique with pastels.


I really struggled with this painting of the water and shore of the lake we visited on the second day. Bill does a lot of beautiful paintings of water and it's lighting effects (in fact, I'd say he's an expert on this). He helped me in a few spots, like the ground and gave me some tips in trying to get everything in all over the picture rather than in just ONE spot so that I can judge colors against each other and correct as needed.


Regarding composition, I learned that a distant view is more interesting when a sense of scale is achieved. In order to accomplish this, many landscape painters add a few foreground objects that we know are smaller than the thing in the distance. In this case there were a line of evergreen trees at the bottom of this scene. The scene might be more dramatic had I included them, giving the viewer a sense of how large and how distant the mountain top is.


This was one that I had to paint! I can't resist a figure in a landscape. Not sure I captured the scene, but it was certainly a joy to paint. 

I've thought since coming home from the workshop that I might expand my set of landscape pastels and add more colors. I am currently working on my "Spring" studio painting and would like to try a color study of it after I am finished with the pencil design. 

Bill's animation experience and pastel work got me thinking about the concept art for Disney animated movie, Fantasia. When I got home, I went through some photos I took (secretly) from a recent visit to the Disney Family Museum in the Presidio. I have seen these very paintings in books over the years many times, but was quite moved when I saw them in person. The technique is the same, focus on the LIGHT and shadow, done in pastels on toned paper. Inspiring, beautiful, and most importantly, connected to naturalist ideas. In fact, the reason I think these work is exactly that, because they are not only caricatures, but also based on light and natural form. (and isn't a caricature also based on natural form?)






If anyone noticed that my last post on my studio spaces has gone missing, there is a reason for that. I found more photos and decided to write a longer post. Will post again sometime this summer. Next posts will regard further process on my painting, "Spring" and also notes on "Structure/Form," which will include how I am trying to learn/think/approach the human form in sculpture and also some notes on flower painting and organic subjects.

Thank you for visiting!

Sadie J. Valeri's Two Week Classical Realism Workshop

my still life painting (unfinished), Sadie J. Valeri's workshop results

At the end of January I took a fantastic ten day long workshop with Classical Realist painter Sadie J. Valerie. I regularly attend Sadie's atelier on Tuesday evenings for open studio life drawing sessions. It was by happy accident that I learned last year of Sadie's Tuesday night long pose sessions right down the street from where I work, a new classical realist atelier - absolute true fate! I began attending the Tuesday night long pose sessions, continuing my attempts at life drawing.

It was on one of these Tuesday nights, Sadie mentioned she would be holding a ten day painting workshop, in the manner of Classical Realism, which she practices to great success. Now,
I have been studying observational painting for many years now, first at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and then at the Palette and Chisel in Chicago during the late 80's and 90's, a time when Richard Schmid was president there, a great painter to whom I am undeniably influenced. His teaching has shaped everything I know about color and light, and even the way I apply paint on a canvas, watercolor board or digitally for work. The reason I bring up my influence of Richard Schmid is because there is no doubt that his teaching shaped the way I have been painting for many years. Art schools at the time I went had pretty much thrown out the book on hundreds of years of research into how to actually paint and draw reality. For me, Schmid was and has been a life line in this regard (as well as a few amazing teachers at the American Academy of Art). For a while I sold paintings at the P&C, was in group shows, and was represented by a gallery, Jody Kirberger of the Talisman Gallery. Although I am ever grateful for my introduction to the lessons of realist painting and earned my living as an illustrator because of it, for many years I felt a strange lack of progress and improvement with my work that accumulated in my consciousness, eventually causing me to stop painting for about ten years only to focus on my professional life as an Illustrator.

It was with this background I began life drawing on Tuesday evenings. I began to feel curious about Classical Realism after having the privilege of seeing Sadie's paintings in her studio once a week. Her paintings have mesmerized me; they look more real than real, and yet also painted. I wanted to learn exactly how she is able to achieve such crispness in her work and get a general overview of what she thinks about when painting, so I signed up for her workshop.

The content of the workshop course was a true surprise to me. The first week began not with painting a still life, which I had anticipated, rather, with the fundamentals of drawing, beginning with the shading a sphere, from which all organic form is derived, then on to constructing a simple man made object, and finally, a crumbled paper bag. I must admit, at first constructing the paper bag was daunting and quite time consuming. After all, my painting goals do not necessarily include painting crumpled wax paper still lifes, as much as I appreciate Sadie’s. However, after working on the bag for an afternoon, I found the lesson enlightening on many levels, and, dare I say it...I fell in love with the complexity of form in this exquisite paper bag, thanks to Sadie’s insight into construction, a method different from the sight-size method I learned in art school.

As the class continued through the two weeks, surprises like this were often the case; my Alla Prima conventions were definitely challenged as I learned about the differing Classical Realist method regarding edges, value, chroma and hue. The second week was spent entirely on painting, two days for the black and white under painting and three days spent on color, a slow building crescendo toward the last day, when that "ah ha!" moment struck all of us workshop attendees.

All in all, Sadie's class was absolutely worth it, considering all that I have taken away. Although I am not necessarily a realist in the classic tradition, I feel that I now have a grander and more full understanding of how nature works, as well as a deeper understanding of a different Realist philosophy, a descendant of the pre-salon methods, as opposed to Alla Prima and direct painting, which descends from Impressionist ideals.
I came away from the workshop with a semi finished still life, abundant notes to fuel my research for future pursuits in picture making and many, many thoughts and questions about the choices I will make in my own pursuit as a fine art painter.

In addition to all of that wonderful stuff, I’ve found that immersing myself in classical realist tradition has had an unexpected effect on me; my eye is sharper, my appreciation of artists' work more discerning (including not only realist paintings but also a finer discernment in interpretive and cartoon based illustration, which I also love), ideas about a direction for my own work have become more clear, and my love of Nature has become more profound.
How fortunate to have this experience. No doubt, I am a better artist and art lover for having taken the class and the fire in my soul rekindled.

As a way of continuing my own research and studies, I thought I would document my notes from the class, expanding on each topic with ideas from other artists and schools of thought. Even if you think you do not want to paint in this very mannered, methodical approach, or do not wish to make highly realistic renderings of reality, or prefer to stylize imaginative illustrations, please stay tuned. I assure you, there will be something in these posts for you, as there undoubtedly has been for me.

Reliquary Class at Ulla Milbrath's Studio!

This past weekend I took a class taught by the talented artist extraordinaire Ulla Milbrath, whom I met taking classes at Castle in the Air. Ulla teaches regularly at the Castle in the Air and also at her incredibly inspiring home studio, filled to the brim with handcrafted projects and antiques of all kinds.

I was inspired a few years ago by the reliquaries I saw on her blog after googling 'reliquaries'. I found these amazing pieces Ulla made, and discovered, even better, that she sells them at the Castle in the Air and other places, AND...she teaches classes in how to MAKE THEM.

She finally offered a class that fit with my too busy schedule, this past weekend. I couldn't wait! What a treat it was! Ulla taught me how to make each one completely from scratch using illustration board, mica, pieces of my own art, hand dyed ribbon, and - a new skill - soldering the pieces together. If you aren't familiar with a soldering iron it's like this: a very hot iron, who's tip is as hot as volcano, which you use to melt pieces of metal wire, which you then manipulate into pools of molten hotness and try not to spill on either your hands, clothing or art piece. How thrillingly DANGEROUS!

Details below each piece:

"Luna, Reliquary portrait"

Luna is a painting I did a few months ago and sold as a print at the APE festival. For this application, I printed her out on heavy stock and cut carefully with an xacto knife around the edges. The original has fairy wings and extends to a partial view of her torso, but since this is a small piece, I sacrificed those areas for the reliquary (Perhaps sometime it would be cool to try making another one with real cicadia wings!). The cut out illustration is sitting on top of a blue fabric I lightly dusted in clear glitter and on top of that a few pieces of luscious moss. Tucked in between the moss and Luna are a few vintage flowers and a few pieces of dried baby's breath. The outside is soldered metal, which attaches the mica covering.

Learning to solder the outside was a bit challenging and intimidating, but also dangerously FUN. I can see how it becomes addicting. Melted metal is so SAUCY! haha

"Daisy, Reliquary Portrait"

This is the very first piece I made, also using a painting I cut out and altered in order to fit the reliquary. It's still not quite working the way I want it to. But learning is all about making mistakes and trying new things. I hope to try alternate versions of this one too!

"Mossy, Reliquary Portrait"

The tiny painting of a woman inside this piece is something I painted a few years ago. Again, I cut her out very carefully, made the box, glued together...AND, for this one, cut some glass for the very first time to make the covering. Honestly, I am in awe of the vast knowledge Ulla has in all manner of techniques! This one is a bit bigger than the others, so I thought I'd show the context by photographing it in a few places. I left the edges un-soldered (is that a word?) because I like the way the copper tape works, but also because I plan to go back and tidy up the fabric edges and trim in the back.

Displayed next to my very small collection of Ephraim Faience hand made pottery and a pretty photo of my sister. :)

I am really excited about making more reliquaries. At the moment I don't own a soldering iron or other materials. The way I'm feeling is that the strongest one is the "Luna" portrait. I would like to try her with some cicadia wings. I also hope to make several more fairy portraits and reliquaries - maybe I'll even be able to finish some by WONDER CON! :)

Thank you so so much to my friend and inspiring artist Ulla Milbrath for spending an entire weekend teaching me the techniques involved. She worked really hard - I imagine it must be difficult to be teaching others while in your own studio, resisting the urge to make your own creations! I am deeply appreciative.

Andrew Cawrse Anatomy Workshop

I just finished a week long intensive anatomy sculpting course, Andrew Cawrse's level 3 anatomy workshop, Dynamic Anatomy. Because the classes are relatively new, I thought I might report about the class in case anyone out there is interested in learning about dynamic anatomy, whether the knowledge is applied digitally or traditionally.

On the first day we set up the model, Cason, in a kneeling pose. We quickly gestured in his form on a small armature as best we could. After a few hours of this, Andrew asked us to take our gestures off the sculpting stands and set them aside for later use at the end of the week. I thought this was a great idea and feel very happy to have gone through the exercise, although in entering the class I was not aware that we needed at this point to purchase a second, bigger armature and would have liked to know that before hand so as to be mentally prepared for the additional cost. I personally was not too miffed about this aspect since I sculpt on a weekly basis and can always use more armatures. However, I can see how others might have been a little surprised if they were new to the sculpting world. So, if you are to take Dynamic Anatomy, just know that you will need to purchase TWO armatures and probably all of the specialized tools, which end up being about $500 extra, a pretty significant cost added on to the $1500 base fee. HOWEVER, I want to emphasize here - TOTALLY worth it. (Maybe it was mentioned in the description of the class and I missed it.)

Anyway, after the first exercise, the model was posed in a standing position with a leg up on a box to show bending of the knee, a twist in the rib cage and the opposite arm up high, to demonstrate motion in the arm, rib cage and hips. We then spent the afternoon and the morning of the second day sculpting out and measuring the general proportions of the figure as best we could, which is MUCH faster than what I am used to! However, this was necessary since there was so much ground to cover in anatomy lessons. On the afternoon of the second day we began the good stuff: carving out muscle groups and indicating them on the body, specifically the legs. You can see here I didn't finish.

After we tackled the boney landmarks and muscle groups of the legs, we spent a pretty significant amount of time on the third day learning about the scapulae. Andrew and his assistant, Eric -who also assists mega alpha sculptor Richard MacDonald and is an awesome sculptor in his own right- both expressed that knowing the scapula bones are extremely important in understanding how the figure works. The reason being that the bone, although attached to the clavicle, moves and shifts as the arms and rib cage move. In addition to that, a lot of complicated muscles of the back attach to these bones, causing further confusion. However, if you become intimately familiar with the shape and function of the scapulae, the rest becomes easier to understand, and helps in making a figure look far more believable. Great lesson!

We proceeded by measuring the boney points on the model with our calipers, and sculpted out the exact shape of both scaplua as best we could. This was no easy task since both were in different positions on each side!

After about an hour or so of this, with Andrew's approval, we then laid clay on top of the scapulae and drew out the musculature of the back. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of my drawn out muscles. Here is the initial stage, though.

During this portion of the class, I found it very helpful to refer to one of Andrew's reference figures, which he sculpted and sells on his site, He also had a skeleton in the class for reference that had painted landmarks indicated in red and blue to show various points of origin and insertion of muscles on the skeletal figure. Very useful!

After the back, we moved on to the hands and feet (or perhaps we did those before the back?) We learned some simple measuring tips and technique for sculpting the hands and feet, which were incredibly useful. We only spent about an hour on each, so what you see here is the best I could do while rushing to get the planes and all the anatomy in before moving on to the next subject.

Next subject was the rib cage and muscles of the torso. PIECE OF CAKE compared to the back.
The first step was to locate the top, bottom and width of the rib cage using the calipers to measure the model, Cason (who, btw, is a FANTASTIC model - awesome dancers body). Once we indicated these points on our sculpture, we then carved out the planes of the ribcage and drew in the ribs, sternum and clavicle. (pardon me if I'm spelling these wrong, btw)

Once the ribs came in, we then put in the serratus anterior muscles on top. We were very lucky to have a model that had extremely well developed serratus muscles, which he believes might have developed from being on a wrestling team. Makes sense, since these become flexed to stabilize the torso.

next came the external obliques, which attach to the serratus anterior muscles.

and after that, the pectoralis major muscles of the chest, which originate from the clavicle and rib cage and tuck in underneath the deltoids.

Here is my finished, well, half way finished, rib cage with the muscles. Behind my sculpture you can see assistant Eric's sculpture. Having Eric there was extremely beneficial to the class; we all referred to his gorgeous sculpture often to check against for errors in our own.

Next up was some time with the anatomy of the skull and neck muscles. This took place on the morning of the last day, Friday. Andrew went through the key boney points and planes of the skull. We laid in the planes and carved out the skull. Unfortunately I ran out of time and wasn't able to completely finish. Also, I took photos with my iphone. I've noticed there is a slight distortion...I swear! (The head here looks a tad too big and slightly warped)

On Thursday evening, Andrew and his assistant Eric weighed the sculptures in order to calculate how much clay we used, which was then added to the invoice and billed accordingly. Mine weighed 20 pounds.

Finally the afternoon of the last day. We spent this block of time learning how to finesse the figure, add skin and refine the details. Andrew showed us a technique of adding bits and pieces of fat between the muscles and then brushing on turpenoid to melt the clay just slightly to create smooth skin. I worked on the leg and knee:

It's still a bit too defined, but you get the gist of it:

And here is my semi finished sculpture! Yay! The great thing about this is that I can continue to work on it at home referring to charts and books. I hope to get it to a more completed state so I can continue to have a better understanding of how the anatomy works on a dynamic figure. The only unresolved issue I have after the class is where to put it in my studio living room. I don't think Andrew can help me with furniture rearrangement. My sculpt has ended up sitting on my floor next to my art desk. It would be better to have him on a sculpting stand of my own so I can continue to work on him.

All in all, I highly recommend taking Andrew Cawrse's anatomy classes. I had also intended to take the next two classes, which sounded really amazing, too: Mike Murnane's creature anatomy class and Damon Bard's character sculpting class. I think regardless of what application you are eventually using these for, it would be worth the trip, the cost, the time and effort, given that you are studying with masters in the film industry whose knowledge is based in pure traditional art education, a tradition which still struggles to stay alive.

Having said that, since this is my personal blog, I should explain that my interest in sculpting lies in a love of the craft, the beauty of the human and animal form, and very deep passion for artistic exploration. While in the class, someone asked me (and everyone else) what I wanted to do with sculpting, to which I replied with heart felt sincerity, 'nothing in particular!' After a career in illustration for animation and games, as well as a failed attempt to get a fine art painting career off the ground, I have come to a choice in how I view being an artist. That is, if I attach an expectation to where I want to eventually go with a particular skill, i.e. a GOAL or specific JOB or gallery life, I will somehow stumble on career obstacles, create a lot of frustration for myself, call into question who I am, how 'good' or 'not good' I am, and subsequently dilute the passion of whatever it is that drives me to create for MYSELF.

These days, I intentionally continue to practice the things I love in my off hours from work, without any expectation of the eventual outcome at all. I can do this partially because I already AM a working artist with a pretty stable career. So what more do I need? My personal work is just that - personal, inspired, not at all attached to money or a living, and entirely from that pure stuff within the heart that loves to create. These days, the only personal mantra I keep is: develop my passion and the rest will take care of itself. I look forward to seeing what happens, and in the mean time I am happy. Kinda like the little pink flower girl illustration below. :)

Erik Tiemens Watercolor & Gouache Painting Workshop

Over the past weekend, I attended the Erik Tiemens' Watercolor & Gouache painting workshop in Mendocino, California. Erik Tiemans, for those who are unfamiliar, is a concept artist in the film industry. A few times a year he teaches a workshop at the Mendocino Art Center. Overall, as a working illustrator, I found this workshop technically useful; as a painter I found this workshop inspiring.

Tiemens' palette is largely composed of the familiar colors many painters use, but with a slightly blue and gray emphasis with brown undertones. The influence of the Dutch Masters' painting is evident in his work, which he talked about to some degree on the first day.

Tiemens' approach to painting outdoors is similar to pre-impressionist painters, who would spend time in the countryside sketching from life (usually with sepia ink or watercolor), bringing the sketches back to the studio for further development. Here is a sketch he had hanging on the wall in class (a better photo can be found on his blog):

And here is a beautiful finished painting he brought to class:

Although Erik Tiemens works in the film industry as a well established concept artist with a great deal of respect, apart from that field he is just a really damn good painter with a lot of interesting work. It is difficult not to be inspired by his enthusiasm for the craft and history of painting.

But since this was a workshop, what did I take away from it?

Here are some of the field sketches I did during the workshop:

and small studies, experiments worked up from memory:

I love the idea of sketching out in the field, 'gathering data' as he referred to it, taking those sketches and experiences back into the studio to come up with something entirely new: a composed impression based on what was learned from life. To pull this off well, a certain amount of craft and skill is involved that one must, in the end, feel as though the landscape has not been slavishly copied, but rather pulled from a well of knowledge and creativity. In the end, the artist must arrive feeling completely personally immersed in self expression. Isn't that what it's all about? I left the workshop and the beautiful town of Mendocino completely inspired and looking in a more complete direction for my own work. I highly recommend this workshop for any working illustrator or fine artist who simply loves to paint.