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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dan Schultz workshop

Just took a 3 day Dan Schultz workshop where we covered portrait work as well as painting the figure in the landscape. I find the longer I paint, the less workshops are about learning something new, and the more they are about either being reminded of things I have forgotten to focus on lately, or hearing something in a new way that helps crystalize it.

Those things for me at this workshop were:
  • Placing an intermediate color/ value between shapes is a great way to soften edges
  • When drawing, measure, measure, measure!
  • When blocking in, CONTINUALLY squint and compare to get the values down accurately
  • While it's important to compare a value to the one beside it, it's even more important to compare it to the lightest and darkest values in the entire subject. Here is an example:
    In this photo of Maya, it's easy to see that if you were trying to assess the value of her face only against her hair or the background, it would appear very light, but if you compare it to her hat or scarf you can see it's at least a couple of values darker than they are, and you must leave room for those lighter values.

    Workshops also help shine a light on the bad habits we can develop when working unmonitored in our studios. During this one I realized that in my impatience to get to the painting stage I will often move on to it before I have achieved a totally accurate drawing. Bad.

    I also find that when a painting's not going well, I have a tendency to do something bold and dramatic to try and fix things. Dan is a very careful, subtle painter, and watching him was a valuable reminder that sometimes what is required is the patience and discipline to slow down and make some very small, focused, intricate adjustments. At times this calls for painstaking attention, but it is amazing how it can make all the difference in pulling a painting together in the later stages.

    Dan's demo of Marsha. This is unfinished, but it gives you a good idea of how well he simplifies busy, complex subject matter into a few well placed, varied strokes to suggest what's there.

    Photo of Marsha modeling (NOTE: Photos posted here are copyrighted. Please respect this as well as the models - they were paid to model specifically for us.)

    Dan is humble and sweet, a passionate painter and a thorough and engaged instructor. I highly recommend taking a workshop with him if you have a chance.


    1. Liz,
      Great post about Dan's workshop. As a fellow participant, I highly concur with your thoughts.
      Dan is a wonderful instructor, as you've pointed out and so very humble and gracious. I learned a great deal about placing the model in a landscape environment and would also recommend a workshop with Dan most highly.
      By the way, I read Robert Genn's post about your heli-painting trip to the Bugaboos. How exciting! The photos are amazing. Next year....

    2. This looks like it would be an excellent workshop. The things that you mention about slowing down, and really getting the values and shapes thought out is so true. It is so easy to want to hurry past these things and get into the "fun" stuff.

    3. Thanks for sharing all those reminders that we need to hear! The workshop sounds really great.

    4. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring post! It sounds liker Dan is an excellent instructor and I love the model photos. I used to really enjoy the drawing stage, now I cannot wait to start painting so I draw with my paintbrush.

    5. I draw with my paintbrush as well Suzanne, what I'm referring to is the transition from a line drawing to establish proportions - to the blocking in stage. I have a tendency to think I'l correct what's not exactly right in my drawing as I block in, but find this can sometimes be an excuse to give up on the hard stuff early, and it almost always gets me in trouble later.

    6. Draw, Draw, Draw. Painting is just drawing with a brush, but you must know how to draw first...Funny how that works out.