Category Archives: painting

Friday Night Class

Grasaille Demo, Robert Liberace

Grasaille Demo, Robert Liberace

Fibre Space, a local yarn store that I love has been selected as the flagship store for designer Jared Flood’s newest endeavor, Shelter.  Shelter is a beautiful yarn that is processed and spun in the states and it’s simply yummy.  I stopped by there yesterday after work to see the loveliness.   I left there with five  skeins of the red (long Johns) and a lovely pattern for a shawl called Terra.

Afterward, I headed to class with Robert Liberace.  I’ve decided that for the next 4 weeks I’d work on silverpoint drawing instead of painting (its a logistical problem).

Once I arrived I found out that the model hadn’t shown in one of the classrooms.  So I told Rob I’d love to model for his demo.  Yes I am evil, but I adore his work and its fun, and modeling gives you a very tiny sense of what a professional model has to endure for his/her job.

So this is the study Rob did.  It’s an initial grasaille, with sienna, black and white used.  He toned his canvas with the sienna and once dray started painting using a #6 brush and black.  I couldn’t see what he was doing, but he said that he was using the black in the manner of Howard Pyle (early 20th century artist and illustrator), like he was drawing with it. and he used it for the shadows.

Rob then went back in with a mid-tone mixed with the white and black to model all the mid-tones and soften the transition between shadows and mid-tones.

Once done to his satisfaction he added more white and captured the light and then used an even brighter light tone for the highlights.  He created this painting in two sessions a total of about 40-50 minutes.

Isn’t it beautiful?


Alla Prima Portrait DVD

Robert Liberace released his Alla Prima Portrait DVD this week.  It’s available at his website and can be purchased using paypal.  I bought mine Friday evening.  Sadly, I’ve been running like a madman this weekend so I haven’t watched it yet.

Here is the youtube link to a lovely preview.

I Dream Awake

Another Thorny Crown, Margret Bowland, charcoal and pastel on rag paper

Another Thorny Crown, Margret Bowland

New beginnings are frail delicate things that must be nurtured in order to fulfill their promise. Anyone who has ever started a campfire in a storm can bear witness to this.  In this economic climate many folks would quail at the thought of starting a new enterprise.  Amy Morton of Morton Fine Arts (MFA) is made of sterner stuff.

Amy Morton recently left the Principle Gallery in Alexandria Virgina and struck out on her own and opened Morton Fine Arts.   For her opening show titled, “ I Dream Awake“, Amy took us on a romp though a dreamland populated with amazing and glorious works.  The caliber and range of artists in this show left me well, gobsmacked.

Moon (October), Vonn Sumner, oil on linen

Moon (October), Vonn Sumner

Artist Margret Bowland who won the People’s Choice Award at the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery had two amazing works of one of her favorite models displayed. My favorite of the two was titled, Another Thorny Crown.  The model is a young girl from North Carolina who stares sadly and proudly at those who dare to observer her.  Looking at her, you get the sense that the model is a very old soul.  The painting was charcoal and pastel on paper unframed and unshielded  from casual touch or the a breath or well anything.  I loved it!

Machine in the Garden- Steampunk Shelley, Mikel Glass

Machine in the Garden- Steampunk Shelley, Mikel Glass

I was also introduced to several new artists at the show, Vonn Sumner and Mikel Glass.  Vonn Sumner paints these wonderful sharp subtle paintings of figures.  They are male, they are in these outlandish masks, and when you peer closely  you realize-well, they are Vonn.   I loved them!  At first glance they were flat and very much a 2D image.  But the image was so compelling I had to look closer.  And having looked at one, I was hooked and had to closely examine every one of them.

If artist Vonn Sumner’s works are sharp and subtle, artist Mikel Glass’s works were a study in contrast.  His painting, Machine in the Garden- Steampunk Shelley had a woman clasping a child very Edwardian and upright, in this incredible frame.  The frame had parts that moved, wheels gently turning a thin belt around the painting, vacuum tubes sprouted out of the frame in groups like silver space age mushrooms.  And then there was this stand.  The stand looked like it was brass and part of an antique floor lamp.  If you pushed down on the top of the stand and waited, a thin fog would waft up out of the frame to add to the experience of viewing his painting.  I normally would not enjoy this type of thing because it detracts so much for the work, but it was all the work…and, well it was fun.  I made the fog several times and belly laughed each time I did it.  Thank you so much Mikel!

She Was Often Gripped With the Desire to be Elsewhere, Tim Tate

She Was Often Gripped With the Desire to be Elsewhere, Tim Tate

I was happy to also see one of my favorite DC artists, Tim Tate at the show.  Tim had three beautiful works on display.  The one that caught my eye the most was his, She was Often Gripped With the Desire to be Elsewhere.   The video clip seemed to be of a young child’s legs filmed as casually strolled along.  I kept staring at the image because it reminded me of something but I couldn’t think of what it was.  Then it hit me, for some reason the walk reminded me of Scout (Atticus Finch’s daughter) from the movie to Kill a Mockingbird.  I love just about everything Tim has made, and I am still mad at myself for not buying one of his glass hearts when I could (grrrr always will be the one that got away for me!).

Amy Morton guided us through an amazing wonderland with MFA’s inaugural event, I Dream Awake. If this carefully curated show is a hint of things to come, I can tell you two things.  Most importantly Amy did well to follow her vision which lead to her to creating MFA and number two, she’s hit it out of the ballpark on this one.  Congratulations Amy!

Note- there are some phenomenal pictures of the show and some of the works at

Liberace and On Line Registration

Due to the inclement weather, the Alexandria Art League has canceled the in-person registration.  We must either fax our registration or register online.

If you plan on faxing your registration you can use this form and print it out or register here.

So  no waiting on Liberace in the cold tomorrow morning.  It’s going to feel really weird.

Anatomy of the Torso – Robert Liberace DVD release!

Anatomy of the Torso

Anatomy of the Torso

Robert Liberace has released the third video in his series titled, Anatomy of the Torso.  The model in the video is the one that Rob used for his upper and lower anatomy workshops at the Art League in Alexandria, VA.

From what I saw so far, its like being front an center while Rob is talking directly to you.  I also liked that there were cutaways that showed you on a drawing of a skeleton the origin and termination point of the muscles and tendon’s he’s discussing.

If the idea of the muscle names makes you you nervous, please don’t be.  Understanding what lies under the surface of the skin will help you to know what you’re seeing when you are drawing or painting the figure. Taking both of Rob’s anatomy workshops really helped improve my drawing.

You can purchase the video at Rob’s website.

Here is the link to the video. Enjoy.

Sunday Drawing Class

Dying Slave Boy

Dying Slave Boy

As if my life weren’t busy enough with Friday evening classes with Robert Liberace and the occasional Saturday class with Seth Heverkamp, I am also taking a Sunday drawing class with Artist Jin Chung through the Alexandria Art League.

This last Sunday the model couldn’t make it so Jin brought in two casts.  One was of a greek or roman slave boy who was dying and the other was a rough one of Brutus (of the I killed Caesar fame).

I was surprised halfway through the drawing when Jin told me it was a boy and not a girl I was drawing (it does explain the adams apple-sigh).  Yes I guess it should have been obvious but I was sitting at an angle to the cast.

Cast with Drawing

Cast with Drawing

Number one I made the mistake of thinking this would be easy, yeah not so much.  Yes the ‘model’ doesn’t move but I could not seem to get the facial proportions correct.  I redrew the nose, chin and lips several times but as you can see from the picture it’s all off.  I dislike my drawing intensely.

I used vine charcoal on Strathmore charcoal paper and it was messy but I have found I rather enjoy charcoal in this class.  No idea why since I usually hate charcoal and feel like pigpen using it.

So I have vowed that my cast would not defeat me-I plan on printing the photos out in a grayscale and using those ala Bargue to do my cast drawing.  Can you tell I’ve been playing more World of Warcraft than is good for me?

Friday Night Class 25 Sep 09

Joe, 25 Sep 09

Joe, 25 Sep 09

Good class tonight.  I decided to not be cautious and to see if I could apply what I am learning from Robert Liberace as well as the classes with Seth Heverkamp.  Something worked because I was rather pleased with the result.I liked my painting!

I started off with the basics, accurately render the stance of the model by drawing very slight/quick reference lines.  I try to capture the angles of shoulders and hips, figure out which leg is bearing the model’s weight and try to make sure all of my angles are fairly close to what I see.

Once my structure is in place, I work on my darks.  This means that I paint the shapes of the darks using a large (in this case a #6 filbert)  bristle brush and a slightly thinned mixture of odorless mineral spirits (gamsol) and burnt umber.  This step is important. If the shadows are correct then the painting will come together.  If the initial drawing and the shadows are wrong and I add the flesh/light tones then I will be spinning my wheels and will waste time trying to correct a flawed structure.  Frustrating at the very least.

See I am learning.

Ok once the shadows and structure are good, I work them a little more.  What I am trying to do is too not be too fussy but insure the angles are correct and that everything correctly relates to each other.

Once I was satisfied with the shadows, I added a light (in this case burnt sienna, warmed with a touch of cad orange).   I continued to refine the darks and lights-you model what you can-then rinse and repeat.

I really felt like I was on a roll and I can see where the three lessons with Seth Heverkamp is helping.  I guess hearing Seth talk about not being afraid of the paint (I usually paint too thin) and having enough on the painting so I can manipulate the paint is slowly sinking in.

I used titanium white, burnt sienna, a touch of ultramarine blue, cadmium orange, and some red (a dab) I ninja-ed from Kate, a fellow student.