August, 2017

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  • Joe Altwer Interior Painting Demo, August 2017


    Last Saturday morning Joe Altwer was kind enough to do a very thorough demonstration for a group in my studio.  Though Joe is well known in the Florence Academy/Academic painting circle, he rarely comes back to America these days.  I was happy to introduce him to our New England painting community.

    I asked Joe if he would do an interior of the studio for everyone- he paints great interiors with a palpable sense of quiet. In my opinion, the interior is a painting genre many people find interesting, but balk at the prospects of.   The amount of perspective in them and shifts in light I think people find intimidating… Joe does a great job of reducing interior views to their most basic elements.


    Below, a couple of Altwer’s past interior paintings:

    daniela astone studio florence, 2015 (?) 60×80 cm ~ 24×30

    ‘where i work’, sweden 2014(?) 80x60cm ~30×24″




    Joe did not rush through his demo in a slapdash manner- he painted slowly and methodically, taking time to explain each of the steps he was walking through.  We were fortunate to have 6 or 8 good examples of Joe’s work in the studio, so that the group could reference what he was doing in these early steps of a painting, and compare to his more finished work on the easels behind them.


    joe working on his lay-in



    joe was very generous with his time, and spent time after the demo discussing his work with students


    Here’s a nice short recap of the demo on instagram by 2016-2017 student @hungryforcolors :

    Demonstration ‘Painting the interior’ by @JoeAltwer really impressed me: speaking when you’re painting, slow done and explain your actions to others and answering all questions that are coming up is just a lot! So clear how he shared his way of working in just less than 3 intensive hours. Explained how he engineered his easle and paintbox. Told about his paints, brushes and composition. Showed all drawing to painting steps and mixed colors to shift values. Joe and studio @leo_mancini_hresko encourage greater knowledge and understanding. If I’ll ever reach that level I hope I can do the same.


    Joe’s completed demo painting, ~27×23″


    I will be inviting Joe back to teach again sometime in the next year.  A painting group in Fairfield County, Connecticut has asked if I would organize a class with Altwer for them, and I will have him do something through my studio in Boston as well.  I look forward to it.

  • Ben Fenske Portrait Concepts August 2017

    Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio


    Just wrapped up another class with visiting artist Ben Fenske; a new, slightly different version of the portrait construction class he taught back in 2015 (click here to read about that course).


    Like Ben’s other courses, this was a mountain of information to get through in just a few days.  After lecturing extensively each day, Ben would demonstrate, and we had a variety of information for the students to draw and paint from.



    Below, a few of Ben’s demonstration boards from the class:




    On the last day, Ben gave a quick demo showing how he approaches using these construction concepts in paint.




    Here are a few images of the students at work during the class:


    Many thanks to our group of students, many of whom traveled to get here.  Until next time.

  • Ben Fenske Landscape Class August 2017


    We just finished another super informative landscape painting class with visiting artist and friend Ben Fenske.  It’s always great to have him here.  We had a really nice group of students, full class, and many of the students with lots of painting experience.  I think the group seemed very happy…  Besides the fact that all of Fenske’s courses are just dense with information, this time the weather was just fantastic.  Sunny all three days, with not too much humidity or heat (for a Boston summer).  There may have been a sunburn or two, but other than that, I think it all went off without a hitch.



    Like Ben’s last landscape course (click here to read about Ben’s landscape painting class in 2016), there were a large variety of demonstrations.  The first day, Ben spent a long time explaining his approach, and went to great effort to explain the importance of simplification in all aspects.  As you can see in the demo below, Fenske started with a review of tonal values, and a five value ‘tonal plan’ for his landscape: a simple, sensible way to hold onto the effect as it changes, and to not get lost in the accents and minutiae of nature as we observe it.







    Ben did other demos in the mornings of the second and third days, and was asked to focus particularly on how to achieve a strong start.  Above, Fenske showing how he would lay in and simplify the garden and sunflowers, and below, a morning sketch of a tractor.




    Each day after lunch we would meet in my studio for the afternoons.  Ben showed a few slides on the computer, and did a series of demos out of his head, based on light effects and times of day, color theory, atmospheric perspective, linear perspective, composition and more.  After that he would take questions from the class, and paint things after their suggestions for an hour or so.  It was a marathon.



    The above picture is just a nice picture, but the below picture has Fenske explaining a morning backlit effect on the right side of the canvas, and then a sunset effect on the other side.





    Above, a board from Ben’s talk on linear perspective and atmospheric perspective as it applies to clouds, and below, the afternoon group.





    And here are some nice images of the students at work during the class.  It was a lot of fun- many thanks to Ben for offering so much to our students.  Currently we have his portrait class going on in the studio- a blog post will be coming on that sometime next week.





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