Caravaggio (Image and Video - techniques)

Caravaggio described here on Wikipedia was a 17th century narrative painter who used subjects of his own time in his visual stories. The strong lid and shade format of his paintings also make them great subjects of study for academic painting students.

My personal favorite is this painting of the taking of Christ which I'd like to copy/reproduce someday when I have the time.

In the video below historians propose various Techniques Caravaggio might have used.


The Mother Artist Project : DEBBY LUCILLE BIRD

The Mother Artist Project : DEBBY LUCILLE BIRD: What is your name? Debby Bird Where are you from? I grew up in Pippa Passes, KY a city with an official population of 532 (2...


Workshop: The Power of Painting With a Limited Palette

Saturday January 24th through Sunday January 25th 2015
with teaching artist Tricia Cherrington Ratliff 

Learn to create powerful compositions using a limited palette to explore subtlety and drama in your paintings. This workshop prepares artists to make stronger paintings using a limited palette of colors. Tricia will teach options that simplify the work of color so that the mind is able to focus on one idea at a time and make more powerful compositions.

Using classical techniques we will do a series of activities that strengthen a painters approach by learning to mass values, build realistic 3D volume, use grisaille and improve decision making in order to create color illusion with very few pigments. Students will also learn to leverage the important skill of deciding what to leave OUT of a painting.

Through these interesting and fun exercises you'll create multiple, small limited palette paintings in a row. In doing so, you'll learn to make active decisions about the use of direction/movement, weight, light, strong rendering (including the simplified modeling of forms) and temperature to make even a small paintings feel more powerful to the viewer. The workshop will also introduce the pros and cons of various "limited palette" options (or recipes) to help make good decisions about which colors to lay out before beginning any painting.

Through increased confidence and focus, you can put restrained power and pop into your paintings.

To register, contact workshop coordinator
Debra Keirce


Paintings in a simple "movie" format.

I'm experimenting with turning a few images into a simple movie format in order to create training slides for my students. Here's a simple movie of images that I created while playing around. Enjoy!


A moment of enjoyment.

And just for fun ... a little photo of some wild roses I picked at lunchtime today.


Grisaille , Tonal Painting , Underpainting (Open and Closed Grisaille)

Interested in tonal and grisaille painting?

I've collected some free online videos below to provide context and an introduction to various approaches (or reasons to use) grisaille and monochrome or tonal painting. These steps are all about the form. This is the reason students (like those at Agile Arts Atelier) begin with casts and white objects.

 Jon deMartin's introduction provides useful context.

This video of Mandy Boursicot moves rapidly but is a great overview in only 10 minutes.

Part I

Part II

Why use Grisaille or other forms of underpainting?

This is a natural question given that many talented painters today don't use this method while others rely on it to create beautiful 3 dimensional looking work (particularly for portraits and figures).  When pigments were expensive and time consuming (prior to pre-mixed tube paints), grisaille provided a cost effective way to establish the volume of forms, accurate drawing and composition before using that precious color. Today, that remains a useful step to insure the same benefits regardless of the cost of pigment. But, it also serves another important purpose as light passing through some upper layers of pigment (particularly with a glaze) reflects off the opaque white areas or is absorbed into the dark areas. In the Agile Arts Atelier we use it as a teaching tool to transition students from drawing through monochrome painting into color. Even if you are an alla prima painter, there is no disadvantage of learning and practicing the various approaches to underpainting and tonal painting because it will help you understand and leverage the grey tone on your support while painting alla prima.

Here's a video introduction to the history dead layer of painting.(Please don't use this narrator's pronunciations of words like grisaille or names like Titian, I think he must have been reading from a script.) They've kindly put their advertisement at 18:40 near the end of the video so you can stop watching at that point if you aren't interested in the ads.

To students who are learning here at Agile Arts Atelier and comparing methods you see above: I've never found ANY video fully illustrating ( step by step ) the exact way I was taught grisaille. But, all of the approaches make sense once you learn some key components of form painting and why to use them. If you are studying it here it's still useful to see different approaches. Hopefully these videos will be an interesting survey.

Finally, in a related topic, here is another video introduction to glazing.