Australian Fine Artist

Portrait Painting for Artists

Workshop Number Three of Five 2016

Tutor: David Chen

We began this workshop by looking at the work of Anders Leonard Zorn (1860-1920), a Swedish artist whose use of light reminded me of the work of Rembrandt and Vermeer, as well as Whistler and Sargent. He used light to great effect to reveal the form of the body and face, it created drama in his works, and a sense of theatre that, if yo took away the lighting, would leave a rather flat and less interesting painting.

You can find examples of Zorn’s work in the following web site:

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Venue: Frankston Chisholm

Tutor: Bill Hay

One of the advantages and pleasures of being in a classroom situation is having the opportunity to do a collaborative work with other students. Often you don’t know how it will all turn out until you put up the finished piece and have a chance to stand back and look at it.

For this session, our tutor had set up a large sheet of brown craft card on the floor, and as we completed poses of our model, he selected a variety of them, to make up a narrative of the lesson.

For those that may have read the classics, like The Illiad, The Odyssey or The Aeneid, the poses and story that we ended up telling on paper, looked to me, very much like an epic tale just like one of these.

(NOTE: Drawings of nude male figure follow in this article)

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Venue: Frankston Chisholm

Tutor: Bill Hay

As we advance through this terms of Life Drawing, additional materials are being added to improve overall drawing skill. During this session we began with short 2-minute sketches with inks on white paper. This gets the eye and hand co-ordination working ready for the longer poses.

Short poses for many, are stressful, as too much detail is sought, rather than capturing the essential pose of the model. Quick poses are an opportunity to look at where the weight bearing is happening, the movement, the general feeling of the pose and not all the little details. I encourage students in drawing classes to relax and enjoy this process more as it is an important part of your progress towards your more involved drawings later in a session.

These sort simple drawings also prepare you for adding and changing materials as you work your way through learning about your model, how their body differs from others, and how you can interpret what you are seeing to paper.

(NOTE: Drawings of nude male figure follows in this article)

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Life Drawing and Painting

 Tutor: David Chen

An important thing to remember when drawing or painting the human figure is to look at the overall shape created by the body and the pose. The positive and negative shapes in and around the body are an important compositional element in your artwork. Understanding how to make these work together is important.

(NOTE: Drawings of nude female figures follow in this article)

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Life Drawing with Ink

Life drawing doesn’t have to only consist of using one medium, like charcoal or pencils. The nice thing about drawing the human form is trying it out with a variety of materials. Pastels and coloured papers are a great way of getting tonal values into your drawings, and can add colours to liven up a pose.

Inks, which can also come in a variety of colours, are another way of portraying the human form whilst creating some soft and flowing lines and highlights and shadows. Inks can be thinned out with water, if they are water-based, allowing a huge range of mid-tones that give the body depth and form.

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Glen Eira Art Collection

A Visit to the Old Caulfield Town Hall

The main entrance to the old Town Hall now leads to a dedicated art space. I haven’t been in the building for over thirty years, so after discovering that art is now within its walls, I had to visit.

Of main interest were the paintings by the Boyd family (or at least parts of it). Only a few paintings on view, but worth the trip. The ceramics were a bonus and a nice addition to the lovely water colours by Arthur Merric and Emma Minnie.

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Clarice Beckett at The Gallery @ BACC

There were other artists represented at the mid-winter exhibition in Brighton this year, but I attended to concentrate on Beckett’s paintings. This was my first opportunity to see a collection of her work in real life, in the one place. It was also the first visit I had made to this gallery space, so I was interested to see how the council had transformed the town hall space for artworks.

Beckett, as many may know was the prize pupil of tonal painter Max Meldrum. She was restricted by family commitments so most of her remaining paintings are based close to her bayside home. Beckett’s work sat in a shed for many years until rediscovered only just over forty years ago. Since then her work has become an integral part of the story of women artists in Australia.

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Drawing Degas

Drawing at the NGV

The Winter Exhibition at the NGV this year brought us a huge collection of works by Edgar Degas (1834-1917). This is the most works in one place by this artist that I have seen in Melbourne. So big in fact that it warrants several visits to take it all in.

As an artist and art student, who loves pastel and paint, I love his work, particularly as he depicts the human form so beautifully. Degas’ observational skills, from his years of sitting and drawing show us a glimpse of the every-day, the less than elegant, or the more than serene, going from ballet dancers to brothels, the races to the living room.

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The State Library holds a couple of William Strutt’s paintings in their permanent collection, on display, but this exhibition holds a lot more for art lovers and artists to enjoy.

What I found of greatest importance as an artist and art student, was the inclusion of so many preliminary sketches and water colours that accompanied the finished oil paintings. This is a fantastic way to get inside the head of an Academically trained painter, to see how he studied so many aspects of his work before he laid brush to canvas for the completed oil painting.

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Workshop Number Two of Five 2016

Tutor: David Chen

Attending life drawing classes whilst learning portrait painting, I have discovered, is a very good thing! The observational and drawing skills learnt at one place are very transferrable to the other.

The first thing we are asked to do at the portrait workshops is to do a drawing of our model to get our eye in, and start to understand what we are focussing on for the workshop. This is a great opportunity to get to know all the little differences in your model’s face and body that make them unique.

Learning how to merge these two methods of representing the human form, in pencil and paint, is very useful, after all how can I be a good teacher if I don’t practice what I preach? I hope readers will enjoy this series of painting workshop blogs, and get some valuable information from them.

As always I defer to my tutor David Chen if readers would like to follow up by attending workshops to learn more about what I am covering. His contact details are at the end of this blog.

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