I had the pleasure of sharing my studio at the end of last month with an old friend from our Florence Academy days, Adrian Gottlieb. Though Adrian and I hadn’t gotten together since somewhere around 2002, over the years we’ve kept in touch over the internet, and I was very happy to have the chance to get us together again for a 5 day portrait painting intensive at my studio. Additionally, we went and painted copies together at the MFA, and had some fantastic meals together.
Starting the first morning, Adrian gave an extended talk and demo, running through comparative proportional measurement tools, 3D structural plane concepts (Ben Fenske’s sculpted planes of the head models came in very handy), and a thorough talk on the materials list. As far as it pertains to demonstrations, the studios in Italy that Adrian and I trained at do hardly any teaching through demonstration, rather pure theory and discussion on the students’ individual paintings. Here in the states, there tends to be a large amount of requested demonstration in workshops, and often the demonstration is a central portion of the class: there’s just less time to impart information from an instructor in a few days than there is in 3 years. This leaves students hungry to get an overview of each artist’s process, and a demo may be the fastest way to achieve that. As I’ve become accustomed to the demo-centric model I’ve really come to appreciate instructors who during their demonstrations paint slowly and deliberately, as they would in their own studio, rather than rushing through the steps in a slapdash manner, a sort of performance art that may be entertaining to watch but may often be a less-than-solid example.
Gottlieb is a very thorough instructor, each morning he took time going through not only what he was doing in his demonstration, but also why he would go through each step, down to changing mediums for different layers of the painting, and a bit on paint rheology. Adrian and I did a bit of back and forth during the class on materials (both of us were resident materials geeks at The Florence Academy during our respective times there). Personally, it’s nice having someone around that I can get lost in a discussion about the advantages of one oil over another.
Here are a few progress shots I took of Adrian’s demo over the course of the week:
Also, a not-so-secret part of me running these guest workshops out of my studio is to bring people to the Boston area that have a style or aesthetic that is parallel but markedly different than my own; to give people a chance that study here with me to hear the perhaps same things I am talking about when teaching, but from a slightly different perspective. Same prism, but through a different facet. Gottlieb’s class has been a great example of that. Adrian works up very finely painted, subtle heads, far more refined than my more blocky, broken brush approach, but through the class I overheard him telling my weekly students the exact same working methods and ways to streamline their process than I teach, whether it applied to drawing, tonal comparison, or simple color mixing. When those things echo through the studio it makes running these workshops and demos very gratifying.
Here are a few more photos from the course- Adrian should be back again to teach out of my studio in 2017, so sign up for the mailing list if you want a spot in that class.
Here are some shopping links that came up during the class: