Portrait Painting Class / Workshop (Northern Virginia) - How to Prepare

For those who are taking my October portrait painting workshop in Northern Virginia, this is a good time to make sure you have all of your supplies ready. (Kathleen is available if you have any questions)

Specifically, you might be wondering which important materials are most often forgotten. You have the materials list so I won't duplicate it here but I understand how it feels to show up without something only to realize that particular items was essential. 

First, make sure to bring multiple canvases. ( It is useful to tone them in advance with thin grey paint or gesso if you have time)

Second, whether you decide to go with the old master limited palette or the contemporary realist method, it's important to make sure you have your walnut oil AND flake white paint (or lead white, or "lead white replacement") in addition to your titanium white. This particular white paint has a unique quality that will allow for a better weekend painting experience when used in the method we'll discuss. 

Finally and most importantly: Come open mind and a positive attitude. I've spoken with most of the registered students personally and it's obvious that we have a great, enthusiastic group traveling to take this unique workshop. So, Oct 9th - 11th will surely be a fun weekend!


Learn to Paint a Portrait in Oil (Northern Virginia Painting Lessons) **ONE** Space remaining!

Painting the Portrait in Oil Workshop
October 9-11, 2010 (10am - 4pm) (Columbus day weekend)

Location: Herndon, VA
Instructor: Tricia Cherrington Ratliff
Cost: $250 (model fees separate)

During this workshop, students will learn to paint an oil portrait from a live model using a combination of both classical and contemporary painting methods. The 3 day session includes multiple demonstrations and is limited to a small group. Therefore, students receive plenty of support and individual attention. 

*Students wishing to complete a portrait project from photos may contact the instructor in advance to make preparations.

The workshop employs a unique approach which allows everyone to work at the level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) most appropriate for their experience.


Oil Painting Lessons in Northern Virginia (Learn to paint Portraits, Still Life, Landscape and more!)

Study Oil Painting in Northern Virginia 
with Tricia Ratliff
All ages and experience levels
Location: Reston / Herndon, Virginia

Lessons are taught on an on-going basis.

Beginners learn in a "paint-a-long" style where you can see a step by step demonstration as you complete your painting projects. Advanced learners graduate through a series of increasingly complex projects to develop strong skills for professional work.

Students learn both classical and contemporary methods of drawing and painting in a realistic or expressionist style.

- Drawing
- Oil Painting
- Portrait
- Still Life
- Landscape
- Studio and Plein Air (A La Prima)

For more information: visit the website above and send your contact information. I speak with each student in advance (either on the phone or in person) to understand your individual needs, explain the format and help you figure out if this is the learning environment where you can meet your artistic goals.


Portraits ... pets as props or subject?

Since reading Ms. Freeland's book, I've found myself looking at images and portraits with a fresh perspective. Including those that contain animals. I've had some fun (and humorous moments) asking "Is this animal intended as the subject of a portrait or as a prop?"

The story behind the John Singer Sargent portrait of Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Phelps Stokes has always been a cute and kind of funny story, but now I see it as an interesting illustration of the artist's and sitter's point of view about the subject(s).

Click here to take a look at the image:

As the story goes, Mrs. Stokes had arrived for her portrait sitting in walking cloths along with her husband Mr. Stokes and her dog by their side. Sargent, so taken by the beauty of her crisp traveling garments decided to paint her in this outfit with her dog beside her. When the dog was no longer available in later sittings, the husband is reported to have humbly offered that he would "Be pleased to take the place of the dog".

Take a look at the painting and decide for yourself, given the depiction of Mr. Stokes, if the dog would have been a character or a prop in this portrait.


Good Reading: Portraits and Persons by Cynthia Freeland

Having spent hours painting with peers and pondering (and even arguing over) such questions as "What makes it a portrait?", the new book "Portraits and Persons" by Cynthia Freeland is a welcome addition to our conversations. Before, reading this post, ask yourself what attributes define a portrait for you? I'd be happy to post your comments/replies.

Ms. Freeland, a philosophy professor and author of an earlier book "But, is it Art?", dove into this topic and exercised every angle of the definition of portraiture including what or who can be the subject of a portrait.

To be a portrait, she claims the following must be present in the depiction: "A recognizable physical body along with an inner life and the ability to pose or present oneself to be depicted in a representation."

The book solidly supports these points and even handles the question of pets and animals. She also illustrates that portraits can fulfill some important functions: "providing a likeness, phycological characterizations, proofs of presence or 'contact' and manifestations of a person's essence." But, don't take my word for it ... read the book. 


Art Jam -> Moving to ArtSpace

Hello Everyone,

Art Jam has always been an exciting way to start the new year it has been an honor to host this creative happening of the "Artist's Underground" in my studio. You've done an amazing job of creating a fun and valuable networking environment just by showing up with your ideas and commitment to supporting each other. Having seen how much you helped each other last year, the Council for the Arts of Herndon has offered to sponsor Art Jam in January 2011. We're moving it to ArtSpace Herndon (also a new sponsor along with Plaza Art Materials) where we'll have more parking and some interesting new activities on the schedule (see schedule here).

As always, space is limited and over 60 people have already registered so make sure to secure your spot and we'll look forward to seeing you there.

Register by following the link on the CAH website:

Looking forward,