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Carlo, oil on linen, 50cm x 60cm

Carlo, oil on linen, 50cm x 60cm

I just finished teaching another 4 week oil portrait course in Florence, Italy for the Cecil Studios.  The students started out with a bit of cast drawing before working directly from models in charcoal and oil.  The sight-size method, as it was originally intended, is used to create life-size portraits under natural light with a historical limited palette.  The class size is limited to 10 students.

The great challenge is the ‘reprogramming’ of the student’s expectations of the portrait painting course.  The goal is not to walk away with several pretty oil sketches.    Ultimately, the emphasis is developing observation skills and the student’s ‘eye.’  The fundamentals of charcoal and oil technique are covered and explored.  In this visual approach to image making the shapes are evolved directly on the canvas.   The resulting work often lacks polish but honestly reveals a diligent study from nature.  Hopefully one leaves with a basic knowledge of important principles that will guide them in their future work.

The model next to the painting in the sight size set up.

The model next to the painting in the sight size set up.

The above picture is of a model in a sight size set up with one of the completed demos that I did during the class.  The one below shows one of the studio spaces.  It was a great experience with a really nice group.  Everyone really applied themselves and the results were excellent.

The studio room at Piazzale Donatello

The studio room at Piazzale Donatello