Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beginning Oil Painting Class

For those of you in the area, I will be offering a college prep class for high school students starting in January, that will focus on good ol' oil painting.  Recently I had the pleasure to work with high school students as the visiting artist at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh.  I found that I really enjoy working with these bright, open, rising artists.  It should be a fun class - so please tell your favorite teenage artist!    

Winter Session
Dates: January 17, 24, 31, February 7, 14, 21
Time: 6pm-8:30pm
This course will cover the essentials of oil painting from proper surface preparation to color mixing. Working from still life set ups, students will explore painting materials, learn about composition, color theory and paint application. Using direct observation to gain skills and confidence, these finished paintings will be portfolio ready!
Instructor: Alia El-Bermani
Tuition: $150/$135 members
Material Lists will be provided upon registration

Please contact Artspace to register.

Phone: 919.821.2787
Fax: 919.821.0383

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Self as Skeptic

Last week, after spending many hours on the large painting of my son, I wanted to take a little breather so I started a new self portrait.  It is a relief to work smaller and once again from life.  As you can imagine, I am not able to get my five year old son to hold still as a model, so I've been struggling with the limitations of photo reference.  This self portrait is a huge relief in that sense, though I do have a mad crick in my neck.

 open underpainting of 
The Skeptic, oil on panel, 20" x 16"

The day after I started this self portrait, I had the pleasure (for the second time) to see the beautiful Rembrandt in America exhibition at the NCMA with some lovely friends.  This exhibit boasts nearly 50 portraits by both Rembrandt and "the school of Rembrandt".  There are some truly remarkable paintings to feast on, such as the following self portrait painted in 1659 (which is on loan from the National Gallery of Art).  The exhibition continues at the NCMA thru January 22, 2012 and then travels to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

It certainly is a humbling experience to compare my efforts in paint to that of the master Rembrandt!  But it also serves as a great source of inspiration to see how he layered so much paint and completely controls the viewers focus with not only the variation of paint applications, but great mastery of value relationships.  Here are a few more progress shots of my humble attempt.  It is still not complete and unfortunately, photographing a wet painting is nearly futile... my apologies for the poor photo quality.

work in progress 
detail of first pass of color
The Skeptic (in progress), oil on panel, 20" x 16"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

100 Grand Tonight!

I am honored to share that two of my Southern Weed paintings have traveled west to California.  They are included in the 3rd Annual 100 Grand exhibition at Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara, which opens TONIGHT 5-8pm!  This exhibition has become a fun tradition for artists and collectors to start off the holiday season.  Please stop in if you are in the area!

Persimmon, oil on panel, 8" x 8"

 Pokeberry, oil on panel, 8" x 8"

December 1, 2011 - January 29, 2012

Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery
7 E. Anapamu St.
Santa Barbara, CA 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Haunt, Taunt, Flaunt

Have you ever had a painting haunt you? It hasn't happened too often for me, but this painting idea has been stuck in my head for over 3 years now appearing like a demanding apparition. In those three years it has changed almost as much as my young son. Now its time has come. Now I am ready to take it on...

I'm still working on a title (you think in three years something would have come to me by now - but this has been a particularly visual haunt). Here's the start:

Work in progress, oil on panel, 64" x 48"

 detail, oil on panel, 64" x 48"

First day into color (detail).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy to be back

I am so happy that my travel is behind me (for now).  California was sensational!  Spending time with friends in Monterey at the Weekend with the Masters was wonderful and then too to have the opportunity to hear and paint along side some all stars was a cherry a'top that treat.  Following the conference, the wonderful Rachel Constantine and I had a brief but amazing adventure in the most beautiful place - Big Sur.  The locals took us in and made us feel right at home.  I won't soon forget it!  And then too, my visit down to Laguna Beach was a whirlwind trying to squeeze in as many visits with old friends as possible in 48 hours.  Thank you to the beautiful Stefani Tewes for lending me your amazing studio as a place to rest my head.  The lecture at LCAD went rather well.  I had several students come up to me after with compliments and gratitude.  I'm so happy that my experiences as an artist can inspire other artists.  It's a wonderful life, being an artist.  But I must admit, I was itching to get home to my family.  Now that I'm back, my babes look bigger and seem smarter.  My patient husband has managed to keep them alive and well.  I'm so grateful to their amazing daddy!  

Back into the studio I jumped.  This week I have finished two paintings.  The first is a study for a much larger work to come called Dumb Luck.  I won't give too much away at this point, but I'm really looking forward to diving into this large painting.  The second painting is one I have been sporadically working on for nearly 9 months.  With all the travel I have done this year, this poor painting kept getting put in the corner half done.  Now that I was able to focus on it for a bit, I think she's done.  Right??  I think there are still a few more things I will tweak on it till the two big, custom panels from Ampersand arrive.   Any suggestions for areas that you see need tweaking, speak up in the comments section. 

Study for Dumb Luck, oil on panel, 16" x 12"

Home Maker, oil on panel, 48" x 36"

Saturday, September 3, 2011

California Here I come

I am (almost) on my way to good ol' California for a ten day sojourn.  I will be starting in Monterey, where I will be an assistant to my friend Sue Lyon.  She is one of the artists teaching and presenting at American Artist Magazine's Weekend with the Masters event.  I then will travel south to Laguna Beach to visit friends and my alma mater, Laguna College of Art and Design, to give an Artist Lecture on my own work.

Susan Lyon, Figure Sketch, oil on vellum

Susan Lyon will first be giving a presentation of her work on Wednesday afternoon as well as teaching two classes in Monterey.  On Thursday she will be teaching "Portrait Drawing" and then on Friday she will be teaching "Painting Short Figure Poses".  You can view some examples of Sue's most recent figure painting studies on vellum on her blog by clicking here

If you are in Southern California, please join me at Laguna College of Art and Design on Tuesday, September 13th at 4:30 on the main campus in Studio 1 for a presentation of my work.  I hope to see you there.  More information can be found here

Laguna College of Art & Design
2222 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ravenscroft Exhibition

While I was away in Philadelphia this past week, twenty one of my paintings and drawings were being hung in the beautiful Gallery of Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, NC.  Ravenscroft, founded in 1862, is a premier private school for grades pre-k thru 12.  It has become a preeminent academic institution in the Southeast, which happens to boast a very impressive Arts Education focus for both the visual arts as well as the performing arts.  This exhibition will be up through the end of September.  Gallery hours are 8-5pm, Monday thru Friday or by appointment.  I am also very honored to announce that I will be one of the Visiting Artists for their Upper School.  In September, I will be working with small groups of the arts students to learn more about traditional methods of drawing and painting.  Many thanks to Joyce Fillip who coordinated this exhibition and workshop.  You have done a fantastic job of installing my work in this beautiful gallery.  I am quite grateful.

Ravenscroft - Fine Arts Center
7409 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 847-0900 x2278
More information can be viewed on the Ravenscroft School's Gallery Guide.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Daniel Sprick

This past week I had the ultimate pleasure of spending time in Philadelphia with my very good friends Diane Feissel, Rachel Constantine and fellow NC artist Susan Lyon.  We were all enrolled in a workshop at the esteemed Studio Incamminati taught by the incredible Colorado artist Daniel Sprick.  There have been several posts on facebook and on the other artist's blogs about this workshop (Philly artist William Sentman did two great posts on the workshop which you can read by clicking: Day 1 or Day 2 and Diane Feissel did a great post titled Sprick).

Here are some photos of the experience with a few captions. 

Painting at Rachel's beautiful studio on Thursday before the weekend workshop.
(left to right: Sue Lyon, Diane Feissel, Daniel Sprick & Rachel Constantine off camera to left)

 Saturday, Day 1. Drawing

Daniel's final drawing demo.

Daniel starts another drawing demo from the model.

Daniel's final figure drawing demo.
My drawing of model Ron.

Day 2. Painting!

Susan Lyon taking Daniel's seat.

Daniel Sprick's palette.

Daniel's final painting demo (detail below)

My painting from the workshop.

Many thanks to Rachel and Diane for your amazing hospitality; to Daniel for the wonderful experience; to Studio Incamminati for hosting this great workshop and also a huge thank you to the lovely Lea Colie Wight for lending me your spare drawing board and paper.  Philly is full of amazing people!! 

Demo Detail

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Contemporary Portrait Painting Workshop

This summer I have been honored to teach a Contemporary Portrait Painting workshop at Artspace in Raleigh, NC which met five consecutive Monday evenings; July 11th - August 18th.  I had a dedicated group of students who ranged from a complete beginner to a few well trained painters and everything in between.  It was a great supportive group of artists.  Seeing the students growth and improvement is one of the most gratifying parts of teaching.

The first night, we started by talking about the basics of portraiture.  We used a charcoal subtractive drawing method to learn about general proportions, placement of features, basic anatomy of the head as well as an understanding of value.  Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera this first session so I don't have images of  this to share.  My apologies.

The next Monday night, we continued to build our understanding of the human head, and started to get familiar with oil paints by learning a subtractive underpainting technique that relates well to the subtractive charcoal drawing technique.  You begin by applying a thin wash of burnt sienna and burnt umber mixture evenly over the entire surface of the canvas.  Then using the same mixture you draw in your portrait, and then use a rag, old brushes and even q-tips to "pull out" your light masses.  Then, you go back into the shadow masses with more of the same oil color mixture to refine your value relationships, edges and structure.  By only focusing on value the students were quite successful in creating an accurate portrait.

My quick demo a of subtractive underpainting (aka: open grisaille).

Students hard at work on their subtractive underpaintings.

The next three sessions we worked on one painting, which helped the students learn how to take a painting all the way from a grisaille (this time, using greys instead of the sienna/ umber mixture) to a full color portrait.  This time, I asked the students to use a closed grisaille method for their underpainting.  It is called a "closed grisaille" because instead of using the white of the canvas showing thru a wash of tone to create the lightmass (as shown above), this time white pigment was added to create the lighter values.   (Please note that a closed grisaille could also be done with the sienna/umber mixture.  It becomes "closed" when white pigment is introduced to any underpainting.)

 Students at work!

  My quick demo of a closed grisaille.

After the composition, proportions, placement and values of the portrait were established in a closed grisaille the student's next step was to do a "dirty color pass".  Which is basically is a pass to get an approximation of the color - concentrating on keeping the value correct while also getting the correct warm and cool color relationships.  By not worrying about mixing up the exact right color, students tend to have less anxiety about painting over their grisaille work.  Also, it is nice to have many layers of paint in a painting.  The history of previous marks can be a wonderful thing in a portrait.

 My dirty color pass demo.

The final class was spent trying to get everything as accurate as possible especially the color.  These students were a pleasure to work with and watch expand their understanding of the human head.  Thank you to Artspace for facilitating this great workshop! 

My final color pass demo.