Meet the Artist: David Cheifetz

Meet the Artist: David Cheifetz

Melding realism and intense color with abstraction and soft atmosphere is a rare combination of abilities. David Cheifetz is one artist who can pull it off. I recently called him about coming to Northern Virginia to teach a workshop on this luscious approach to still life painting and handling edges.

If you are interested in the Northern Virginia workshop - drop me a line 
(contact info is on my website).

David is generous with his knowledge and we talked about everything from his most current work to advice for emerging artists. David has so many useful things to share that I'll need to do additional posts on his paintings in the future - but here are some important points of our conversation that I'm eager to share with you right away.

Q. Tell us about your most recent work.
A. "I just finished a painting called "Spool" that I'm pleased with. I love painting with bright color, but lately I've been experimenting with the concept that you can make "colorful" painting my restricting intense color to small areas. It's the contrast with the surrounding neutral tones that makes the painting seem colorful. One of the main problems that took some time to solve was deciding how to push back the pitcher. I love to make my darks as dark as possible and my lights as light as possible, so it took some concerted effort to restrain that instinct in the pitcher. This allowed the spool to pop out and dominate a bit more. I had fun with the loose edge-work in the pitcher and onion, which hopefully allows the eye to focus on the harder edges of the red glass, tube of paint, and the wire spool."

The artist also explained that he originally wasn't that interested in still life until his teacher introduced him to the work of Leffel. "That's when I realized the potential of still life". David became fascinated with Edges and that fascination shows up in his current work. "I like the idea of chaos contrasted with sharpness" to establish a strong focal point. While David explained the way he also uses contrast and color to create a focal point, he emphasizes that "edges and composition are kind of the final frontier for a painter because there are no rules ... there are guidelines but no one can really tell you exactly how to do it ... so the possibilities are limitless. Edges have so much potential to make or break a painting. It's really exhilarating to keep experimenting with them."

It's clear that that David sums things up beautifully and without ceremony which would be an obvious asset to his students. If you live in the Francisco bay area, visit his website for more info about the upcoming class in his studio. He has limited the class to a small group which will focus on direct "Alla Prima" painting because starts are so important to the quality of an artist's work. Not surprisingly that class is almost full.

In addition to technique, David shared some tips for emerging artists.

Q. What is the most important thing you've learned and would like to pass along to others?
  • Just begin things that are important to you, don't put them off. Thinking about beginning is the hardest part....once you start, it's not so bad.
  • Sit down and do the work, even if you don't feel like it. Inspiration will come AFTER you start working.
  • Be a student of art forever, willing to purge ego and keep learning. I think talent is mostly the will to learn.
  • Don't be precious with your art, take chances. The worst thing that could happen is a bad painting--you can always make another one. Wipe out bad paintings, it's good for your health.
  • Read "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield. In my opinion, this is the most important book about how to be an artist. (This book is a fast, fun read)

Q. What do you think are some of the most exciting things happening in the art world today?
A. "It's exciting that students interested in pursuing careers in illustration and concept art are seeing the value in classical/representational training. I think many universities will (hopefully) begin to abandon the practice of using theory talk as the basis of art education and will embrace skill-based and classical training. It's great that there are more and more ateliers offering training at the fraction of the cost of an art school. I think aspiring artists are recognizing that the content of a portfolio is much more valuable than a certifiable degree. To make a living as an artist is challenging enough without the huge loan debts that could be incurred at an art school."

David is an example of the way art education is changing now that so many options are at the fingertips of emerging artists today. He found Schuler through the atelier search page on the Art Renewal Center website. Add google searches, blog posts like this one about artistic influences, artshow.com and various other ways to find out what's going on all over the world and it appears that we have a new reality emerging.

I keep an eye on artists like David to see where this exciting explosion of skill is headed.

Readers can look forward to other upcoming articles about David (specifically his cityscapes) and other artists  ... but first ... watch for a post in January featuring an illuminating conversation with Terry Strickland.


A Little Inspiration for Shadow Patterns - John Singer Sargent

As a little aside from my painting research today I just e-mailed a student to inspire her with these lovely examples of shadow patterns ... and thought you might enjoy them too. All by John Singer Sargent.

Notice how the a rich or deep color wash creates the feeling of life within the shadow without detail. On one of these you can see the sketch underneath. Notice in the architectural painting that the quality of the light shows volume and is defined almost exclusively by the shadow patterns. 


Principle Gallery Show: Small Works

Principle Gallery is opening their "Holiday Small Works" show this Saturday December 3rd with a reception from 1:00 - 4:00.

I'm a fan of Terry Strickland's work so I'm specifically going to see this painting in person:

Fire Dance - Terry Strickland. 

Speaking of Terry ... watch my blog for an upcoming article about an interview with Terry!

I am also hoping that Martin Poole and Hans Peter Szameit both have something new on view. I was *this* close to buying a beautiful Martin Poole landscape recently when we took a hard left and fell in love with a painting of wild horses for the intended spot on our walls. This decision was largely influenced by the fact that I've hung so many "fruit and floral" paintings on our walls that my poor husband was feeling the need for a dash of masculinity. But ... I digress ... the point is Martin's work is so soothing that it appeals to both of us.

Then there is Hans ... I'll let the picture do the talking here:

Let me know if you are going to the show! Hope to see you there.


I'm always surprised by how often I run across something useful like this while looking for something completely different.  I was researching which sponges work well with charcoal and stumbled onto this nice pictorial drawing demo (he just happened to have sponges in another drawing). The approach in the demo bears some similarities to the "light touch" drawing approach I enjoy. Then the artist adds a little chalk/pastel for hot color and highlights at the end.


Hoping you'll take a moment to read these articles from the July 2011 issue of Cape Arts Review and American Artist, a moving biography of Timothy R. Thies on the West Wind Fine Art gallery website. It beautifully describes his appreciation of the lineage of his learning - and how he produced his own beautiful work as a result.


Antique Painting - help solve the mystery

Need a fun puzzler to get your mind going after the holiday weekend?

Help solve the mystery of this painting ... and learn something along the way just for fun!

Here is an antique painting, unsigned and in great condition of an adulteress woman being presented to Jesus. The current owner (a new acquaintance of mine) was told by the dealer she bought it from in London many years ago that it was probably 17th century, Genovese school. The dealer mentioned the names Domenico Fetti or Mattia Preti (Naples). I couldn't find similar works by those two artists but if you read to the end of this post, you'll see some amazingly similar works by earlier artists. The value and actual provenance are a mystery to be solved. Some crackling starting in the varnish which is common in old paintings.

I want to hear your guesses and thoughts this painting.

Here's what I've figured out so far. It's clearly a copy - but when? The earliest version of this composition I could find was by Dario Varotari. His son Padovanino (Alessandro Verotari) did two versions of this painting including a reverse version of his father's painting. Then, Padovanino's student Pietro Muttoni copied that version.

Can you find an earlier version of this composition? A later version? A closer copy? 
Does anyone know how to date and identify paintings like this? 

Things to look for: Even though the copy above is reversed again (possibly through a drawing transfer), notice that the spacing of the figures and the tilt of the woman's head are more similar to the Padovanino than the painting by Dario Varatari the senior. A lot of information is lost when making a copy of a copy (clothing, expressions etc.) which explains my friend's simplified version.

Given that copying old masters was and still is a great way to learn, I thought this would be a very cool blog post ... and I want to see if anyone out there can help find an even closer version or share any insight as to the age based on the style (modified from the originals) and use of red.

Here is the  Dario Varotari version

Here is his son Alessandro Varatari's version (photo credited to Lessing Archive) - does the fact that it's inverted indicate use of a Camera Obscura? If so, then why isn't it an exact copy?  The spacing between the figures and position of the heads are completely different. (I think I know the answer ... but don't want to slant anyone's opinion)

Then, finally Alessandro Varatori's student created the version above which looks to me like his copy of his master's painting because it shares more similarities with that painting. 



Soft tones

I'm thinking of taking a little painting break during the holidays but had to work on this first. It's a painting in soft, muted tones - very low chroma - some of those who attended my art guild drawing demo might recognize the setup.

The idea here was that I wanted to experiment with all of this white just to focus on the light coming through the almond extract and the corresponding orange on the bag tie. This setup (created later) was one of those ideas that developed out of something I saw in the kitchen when the light coming through the window hit a bottle of extract on the table. Interestingly, as I was putting the composition together, I started reading the directions on the bag of wheat about growing sprouts ... now I can't wait to grow some of those seeds into sprouts for another one of my paintings about the stages of life.

oil on canvas
Almond extract and wheat seed.



Oh those wonderful realists.

It's always a pleasure to peruse the websites and work of artists creating beautiful work. Cultural movement happens through conversation and I am constantly seeking to be involved in the wider conversation of how we artists may use our work to communicate powerful ideas and values. I write this blog based on my own belief that the things that entertain us in a larger community of conversation are the things that help us learn ... so here some of the sites I'm visiting today for entertainment. Enjoy. Terry Stickland kindly gave me permission to include some of her images here!

Voice of the Tiger by Terry Strickland - 33x32 oil on canvas
Detail of Terry Stickland's Drawing "Oracle". 

Terry Strickland's blog.

Jacob Pfeiffer 

Ken Marlow

Warren Chang

David Cheifitz

Patt Baldino

Ode to Melancholy by Terry Strickland - oil on panel 24"x36


Vicki Blum Exhibit at Bella Luce in Clifton TODAY

Hello Everyone,

I'm going to the Vicki Blum exhibit at Bella Luce today! Vicki rarely exhibits her amazingly lush paintings so this is a rare opportunity to see them in person one place and visit with her.

- Tricia


Cedrus Amplexu - new painting of juniper branches with beautiful antique German crock pot

Cedrus Amplexu by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff
In process
This was fun to paint. I fell in love with the dark glaze on this wonderful antique german pot upon discovering it near a packing crate in a specialty antique store.

Cedrus Amplexu
(Cedar/Juniper's Embrace)
oil on linen
by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff
Available soon at Broadway Gallery

Hidden Meaning: The Juniper here represents fresh new life - juxtaposed with this crock found in Germany that is believed to be at least 200-250 years old. A subtle reminder for the young to protect and cherish for the old for many reasons; not the least of which is that they are the vessels of collected wisdom that can be gained only through experience. During the Renaissance, Juniper represented not only youth but also purity and protection. I became interested in the meaning of Juniper upon seeing a portrait of Ginevra De' Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci in the National Gallery (Washington DC). Later research revealed that at Christmas, the Juniper branches used in advent wreaths (around the candles) represent the protection of Jesus, Mary and Joseph during their flight to Egypt from Harod in Bethlehem. Notice the series of triangles crossing over each other. The base of the larger Juniper branch is pointing upward and backward while it's newest leaves and berries point slightly forward into the future. 



Hello Everyone,
Instinct by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff 24x18
I'm so excited about the exhibit opening this Saturday! My work is taking a new turn which shows up most obviously in some of the recent pieces I've delivered to this exhibit of over 30 paintings! A few sold but during my drawing demonstration at 3:00, I'll talk about the ones that are still available and on display.

Saturday November 12th 
"Back to Nature, Paintings from Life" 
Broadway Gallery
5641-B General Washington Drive Alexandria Virginia 22312 (google map )

works by Tricia Cherrington Ratliff and Christine Lashley

Demonstrations: 3:00-4:30
Reception: 4:00 - 7:00pm
Wine Tasting 4:00 - 7:00pm (by Paradise Springs)
Show continues Nov 12th - Dec 15th

On a more personal note, I've been surprised by the two different directions my work is taking simultaneously. First, recent life events have caused me to work on paintings that are more personally meaningful. But some (not all) of these paintings take many weeks or months to complete with time to dry between layers. Between layers, I enjoy painting quick sketch "alla prima" works inspired simply by a beautiful or interesting object that captures the light before me. The result: a small set of slow, carefully rendered emotional paintings juxtaposed by many light hearted little oil sketches for each slow painting. Read more about my themes on my website here.

For example, the painting above "Instinct" expresses what my husband tells me it is like to be a man today. Inspired by the wild but solid adventurer, the bronze elk sculpture stands as a symbol of the passionate heart hidden inside many men. Even in our modern world, my husband feels an obligation to provide a nest and protection (the feather) for their families. This feather was given to me by my father during a camping trip the year before he passed away so it has a particularly strong masculine connection for me. My husband is a writer so the ink well with no ink reminds us of the evolution of the writing tradition and how so many things including roles and expectations have changed or not changed over time. It along with the marble transfer a bright light from their environment onto the table which is my standard symbol for a person hoping or trying to leave something positive in the world. Notice finally, the closed journal which calls us ideas of privacy and quiet wisdom for me. This painting is dedicated to my loving and supportive husband Walter - a man I adore and respect deeply.

The Official Invitation:


Invites You to the Opening of
 Back to Nature~Paintings from Life
and a Special Wine Tasting Event with
Paradise Springs Winery
on Saturday, Nov. 12th,  3 - 7 pm
Dear Tricia,

Please join us on November 12th for free Art Demonstrations and an Opening Reception for artists,
Tricia Ratliff and Christine Lashley.

Painting and Drawing 
Demonstrations:   3:00 - 4:30 pm

Opening Reception:  4:00 - 7:00 pm
Wine Tasting: 4:00 - 7:00 pm

Local artists and instructors, Christine Lashley andTricia Cherrington Ratliff, return to their love of nature with an exhibition of still life and landscape paintings that range from displays of fresh fruit and flowers to beautiful landscapes of Virginia and the Potomac River.  

Join us for an afternoon of art demonstrations followed by a reception to meet the artists. Wines from Paradise Springs Winery located in Clifton, Virginia will be featured during our reception.
Broadway Gallery is family owned and operated.
We have provided original fine art and quality custom framing to the metro area since 1978. Other services include art and frame restoration, art appraisals, delivery and installation.  
Conveniently located inside the capital beltway off
I-395 at Edsall Road in Alexandria.

5641-B General Washington Drive
Alexandria, VA  22312

Phone:  703-354-2905

Visit us online at www.BroadwayGalleries.net 
Caron Broadway
Broadway Gallery
Gallery Hours:

Monday - Friday     9:00-5:30Saturday                10:00-5:00
Sunday                   12:00-5:00


Trisha Adams Workshop

On Saturday, I stopped by Trisha Adams' workshop in Herndon on Color, Composition and Clarity. The students, having braved the freezing rain benefited from their dedication to art. In addition to a short painting demo, Trisha also gave a wonderful powerpoint supported talk on color handling to create a pleasing and harmonious effect in your paintings.

She suggested an exercise that any one of us would find beneficial: Spend time mixing complements of unusual colors. For example, if you find a lovely but muted grey violet, figure out how to mix that color's complement in the same value.

Trisha explained that this not only helps you to create pleasing images by pulling together colors that love each other but also helps artists create vibration in a painting when complements of the same value are juxtoposed in a painting.

Another great tip was to play around with this tool if you are trying to come up with a color scheme for a painting - ColorSchemeDesigner


Trisha is full of useful advice ... for more, take her next workshop.



Expressions Portrait Competition 2011

The finalists have been selected for this year's expressions portrait competition sponsored by the Council for the Arts of Herndon. 

The exhibit opening reception will be held on November 5th 2011 7:00 at ArtSpace Herndon. I look forward to being there to hear the Judge talk about his decision process. 



Thanks to Broadway Gallery for finding a loving home for this painting.


Congratulations to my friend Trisha Adams on her recent delivery of commission artworks to the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner Virginia. Trisha's work has been getting more recognition recently and I think she's an artist worth following.


In addition to this commission, recent awards and other exhibits, Trisha has also been invited to teach one of her workshops in Buck's County and is in good company among some wonderful Plein Air teachers.  http://buckscountyartworkshops.com/weeklong.htm


Broadway Gallery Exhibit November 12th - December 10th

Broadway Gallery Presents, “Back To Nature – Paintings From Life”, An Exhibition And Artist Demonstration, Featuring The Landscape And Still Life Paintings Of Local Artists, Christine Lashley And Trisha Cherrington Ratliff.

Show dates: Saturday, November 12 - December 10, 2011
Address: 5641-B General Washington Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22312 Phone: 703-354-2905. 

Phone: 703-354-2905

Reception: Saturday, November 12 from 4:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. 
Artists’ talk/demonstrations: Saturday, November 12 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with drawing demo by Trisha Ratliff and painting demo by Christine Lashley. Artist reception will feature wines from Paradise Springs Winery located in Clifton, Virginia. Gallery 

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (October 11, 2011) - Don’t miss the opening of Broadway Gallery’s, “Back to Nature – Paintings from Life” exhibit featuring the new paintings of local artists and instructors, Christine Lashley and Tricia Cherrington Ratliff.  This event is free and open to the public.
Both artists return to their love of nature with an exhibition of landscape and still life paintings that range from beautiful impressionistic landscapes of Virginia and the Potomac River to expressive compositions of fresh fruit and flowers. A common talent that both artists share is their keen ability to paint from life. Through the direct observation and study of their subjects, both artists capture a special “realness” in their paintings that leave a lasting impression on the viewer. Painting life’s memories and experiences are also uniting themes in this show which are conveyed through the artist’s choice of subject matter and painting techniques.

Working in oil and watercolor, Christine Lashley loves to paint outdoors capturing fleeting light patterns and atmospheric conditions on-site. “Mother Nature is the best teacher,” Christine says. “I like to paint on location, not only to observe the scene, but to convey the intangible elements that a camera cannot capture: my feelings and emotions. The painting process then becomes an interactive one with the subject, as the scene is always changing.”  With bold color, Christine paints the immediacy of the moment, rendering her images with wet-on-wet painting techniques and flickering brushstrokes. Although realism is important in her work, creating the mood and atmosphere in a piece is essential.

As a still life oil painter, Tricia Ratliff is particularly interested in capturing the cycle of life. Therefore, painting from life not only means painting from the direct observation of the scene before her but also bringing themes from life experience to play. She says, “By combining fresh living items or organic objects with aged items, I use composition to contemplate the balance between embracing the present, remembering the past, and my own hope of leaving something for the future.” Her still life compositions are purposeful and inviting. By combining traditional painting methods with contemporary colorist techniques to capture intended moods, Tricia draws the viewer into quiet spaces that are satisfying and tangible.

Broadway Gallery is family owned and operated and is a complete art service that has been providing quality fine art and custom picture framing services to the Washington, D.C. area since 1978. The gallery is located inside the capitol beltway off Edsall Road.


Double Sneak Peek - Our Studios

Christine Lashley and I are preparing for our upcoming exhibit which opens next month. We'll both be giving demonstrations at the reception on Saturday November 12th 4:00-7:00 PM at Broadway Gallery.

After a day of painting together outside, Christine was kind enough to host me for lunch, conversation and a studio visit to see what's "on the easel". Take a look. Here are photos of the work on her easel and mine! All of these paintings are unfinished. To see the finished paintings, come to the exhibit!

Christine Lashley's latest landscape in progress!

Landscape in process on Tricia Ratliff's Easel


Tricia Ratliff Events - Exhibit / Demo (Save the Date!)

Hello Everyone,
My schedule has recently changed and I'd like to invite you to the following events this fall.

EXHIBIT OPENING Saturday November 12th 2011: In "Back to Nature - Painting from Life" Artists Tricia Cherrington Ratliff and Christine Lashley will be exhibiting fresh new still life and landscape oil paintings together at Broadway Gallery in Alexandria Virginia from Saturday November 12th - December 10th 2011. 5641 B General Washington Drive - Alexandria, Virginia 22312 Ph: 703-354-2905In addition to the exhibit opening reception on November 12th from 4:00 - 7:00, the artists will share a gallery talk with drawing and painting demonstrations.

DEMONSTRATION November 2011: Artist Tricia Cherrington Ratliff will be giving a drawing demonstration hosted by Manassas Art Guild in November  at Sudley Elementary School 9744 Copeland Drive Manassas Va 20109. More information will eventually be available at http://www.manassasartguild.com/ Ms. Ratliff will introduce a classical approach to drawing with graphite or charcoal on grey paper and explain how to translate these skills to painting. Packed with useful information about everything from materials to thought process, all who attend are invited to bring drawing materials and sketch along. 


Tricia Cherrington Ratliff is a professional artist in Northern Virginia who specializes in still life oil paintings. By combining antiques or discarded objects with organic items, her work celebrates the phases of life as well as the important reality of what is left behind after the end of life. Therefore, her painting approach employs both traditional methods and contemporary realist techniques to capture the intended mood for each subject.


Sadie J. Valeri

Take a look at this beautiful work by artist Sadie Valeri. Her work is peaceful and has a contemplative but fresh quality. She has taken these paintings with wax paper to a whole new level and done an outstanding job of not only highlighting the value of classical realist techniques but she has also brought attention to some outstanding painters through her women painting women blog.

Undersea 15.75x20" oil on panel by Sadie Valari
This "Undersea" oil painting above (posted with permission of Sadie Valari) is one of my favorites because it is not only skillful and full of motion but also captures one of my favorite personal themes of something that was lost and forgotten but now found. Bravo!

Recently, I finally found the time to read back through blog posts that she published years before I encountered her work (I only saw her work for the first time about a year and a half or maybe two years ago). Her blog is a real encouragement to me. Specifically because she is so wonderfully candid about sharing what she learns as she has grown. You can also see the seeds of inspiration for her current work in her early paintings and how that has evolved.  I'd go so far as to call this recommended reading for all emerging realist painters looking to find their own voice because it's such a beautiful illustration of how one's visual voice can unfold beautifully with time.


N.C. Wyath - 100 year anniversary of the building of his studio

We've been having a great holiday weekend. Yesterday, I took a little side trip from a family outing to tour N.C. Wyeth's home and studio built 100 years ago. Newell Convers Wyeth, one of the top illustrators just after the turn of the last century created the beautiful painted images for the book Treasure Island.

His paintings are so much more beautiful in person - and can be seen at Brandywine Museum in Chadd's Ford Pennsylvania.

Proceeds from the Treasure Island book illustrations allowed N.C. to purchase this property where he built his studio and home in the Chadds Ford area of Pennsylvania where he studied with his mentor Howard Pyle years earlier.

public domain images

His studio, flooded with natural north light through a palladian window (which opens!) also includes a large mural studio and prop room. An extended studio intended for his daughter Carolyn Wyeth was also used by his youngest son Andrew Wyeth (who passed away last year) when Andrew was painting the Helga pictures. Someone had the presence of mind to protect N.C.'s things on the day after his death and take photos so that the studio can be seen today much in the way it looked on the day he died - right down to the painting on his easel. As I looked at his palette and worn brushes, I was struck to see that there was a scar in his painting jacket right at the point where his palette would have crossed his arm ... with paint piled high right above the distinguishable mark that painters who work with a hand held palette would recognize on their own clothes. Somehow that served as a reminder that while this 100 year old studio represents recent history, we are lucky that many painting traditions have survived through hundreds of years of change.

photo by Tricia Ratliff
My interest in (and appreciation of) these early illustrators was born only recently of a tour last summer of Norman Rockwell's work at the National Portrait Gallery in DC. Previously, I had thought of Rockwell's work as kind of "kitch" but when I saw the brilliant paintings in person with beautiful light handling, action and his ability to capture a story in these full sized paintings, I was both impressed and humbled over my earlier attitude. I have a new appreciation for that fleeting time in artistic history before current technology but just after printed material was becoming broadly available. N.C. Wyeth, like Norman Rockwell, Andrew Loomis, Maxfield Parrish, Harvey Dunn and Howard Pyle employed classical realist techniques and modified them for the challenges of print in order to create these visual stories.

The last photo here is the morning "commute" along the path between N.C. Wyeth's house (below) to his studio.

N.C.'s great grandson Jamie Wyeth's still paints and exhibits. His artwork is on view at the Brandywine gallery this month. Although this post was about his grandfather, Jamie's paintings ... and even individual pieces like his marvelous paint eating pig are deserving of their own posts.


Trisha Adams Workshop

Study with Trisha Adams
2-day weekend workshop
at ArtSpace Herndon
October 29th & 30th 2011 (Saturday and Sunday)
750 Center Street, Herndon Va 20170
10am-5pm each day

Register HERE

Three Ways to Strengthen Your Paintings.
In it, students work on the 3 Cs to becoming a better painter -- Color, Contrast and Composition.
You'll learn how to create compelling designs with shapes, how contrast is key to the painting's center of interest and how to use color to excite the viewer. The workshop features demos, critiques and easel-side instruction. Emphasis is on learning ideas over creating completed paintings. Come join the fun and advance your painting skills!


More on line resources

Hi Everyone,
In addition to using my blog (which posts itself to facebook) to share news and artistic discoveries, I also use it to log interesting links that I stumble across and want to keep for my own future reference. I bumped into this one while looking up new paintings by Sadie Valari - whose work I just love. Sadie and other artists post short articles here. http://www.artistsnetwork.com/category/medium/oil

Sadie is also on Vimeo


Jonathan Linton Demo

Jonathan Linton gave a demo at the Vienna Art Society Thursday. I was fortunately able to capture a few photos as he painted and chatted about everything from materials, setup and approach to the new school he recently opened. I've seen other demos by Jonathan and this one was different. He used a seemingly unstructured but careful Alla Prima approach on heavily textured canvas (you could easily mistake this canvas for a gessoed burlap sack - so it had a great tooth to it). This portrait is different then those on his website but if you follow his blog, you'll see that he has finished plenty of other soft, loosely painted figure and portrait paintings.

I hope you enjoy these few photos.

Before he started painting, he spent about 15-20 minutes on setup and lighting. He prefers natural light but uses both halogen and florescent in situations like this that don't allow natural light to work. (notice the bright pink of the setting sun in the upper window within the first seconds of the demo ... the sky turned a glorious hot pink a few minutes later and then went dark ... if only we could hold that kind of natural light for 3 hours! )

Specifically, Jonathan started with a light wash of darks and lights (above)on a dried ground of mixed tones. Carefully adding the major shapes of the lit and shadow side, knowing he might correct them later.

Then, he added masses of darkest darks but took care to create the soft, artistic strokes that fade into soft edges for the hair.

Then, he scraped everything down with a knife to keep the edges turning away (from us the viewer) soft and "lost".

As he progressed, he used the palette knife often to darken areas that seemed out of balance and continuously soften by scraping off paint. I was impressed by how brave he was about removing strong strokes. Another artist and I remarked later about this because he would create strong 3D forms and then scrape off the meat of the paint leafing behind only a hint of the earlier success.

Finally, in the last sitting, he picked up a smaller brush and very carefully touched in some of the strongest lit areas (notice he avoids putting anything sharp near those soft turning edges). He could easily have taken this further given more time but I thought it was really interesting to see the alla prima work of an artist who usually spends countless hours developing a portrait.

The major lesson I took away from this was the dedication to soft edges. Jonathan was willing to repeatedly sacrifice inspired strokes of paint if the edges were too hard in exchange for a softer look.