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Friday, June 24, 2011

Scott Burdick/Susan Lyon workshop - Part 1

Scott Burdick doing a charcoal sketch demo of a Planes of the Head mannequin. (Yup, he did hold the charcoal stick this far back for pretty much the whole drawing).

I'm currently in North Carolina with a couple of painting buddies taking a 10 day intensive workshop with Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon. 5 days drawing and 5 days painting the figure and portrait.

It is academic, thorough, methodical and packed with core fundamentals that are presented over and over in various exercises geared to really connect us with the value, importance and skill of seeing accurately. This workshop feels like I have landed in the middle of an art students league and I am LOVING it!

Our first demo was a basic charcoal drawing,. Throughout it Scott shared tons of info on how to sharpen your drawing tools, how to hold them, how much pressure to apply, how to use them for measuring, and what to look for and consider as your drawing is developing.

Charcoal, chalk stick, pastel pencil, and china marker, all sharpened to long, fragile points to force you to hold them far back and use a super light pressure.

The biggest tip this day was to begin with the big shapes of light and shadow, blocking in the abstract forms, keeping everything in either the light or the shadow. Lots of squinting and comparing to maintain a clear division, and keeping the half tones in the light, and the shadows dark enough to avoid losing the pattern of light and dark. After the demo we all drew a head model, and then the next day moved to quick sketches of the figure. Below is one of several I did that day.

 "Naomi" - 45 minute charcoal sketch

I am learning sooooooo much, totally awesome. Scott and Sue are hugely knowledgeable, so kind and helpful, bending over backwards to make sure everyone (20 students) is getting enough attention and fully understanding the concepts they're teaching. They are top notch instructors and should be on every oil painter's hit list of artists to study with.

Sorry this is not a super articulate post, it's late and we are on day 7 of the 10 days, but I wanted to start to share some of what we are learning.

More great stuff here: Scott and Susan workshop Part 2 and Part 3.

FYI: The Planes of the Head mannequins are great academic tools for working on drawing skills in your studio. You can order them on the website linked here.


  1. Wonderful to read about your time with Scott & Susan. Hope you are well ... we must catch up soon! Love, Alice

  2. Sounds like a super workshop! Thanks for sharing the information you've learned so far!

  3. What a lucky girl you are. Thanks for sharing and soak it in.

  4. Wow! You are so lucky to be studying w/ them! Can't wait to hear more!

  5. Thanks for sharing Liz, have always admired both Scott and Susan's work. Good to hear they can teach too, enjoy.

  6. Thank you SO much for sharing your experience with these two great instructors. Great information and sounds intense but so worth it. Can't wait to hear more!

  7. Oh, I wish I could've been there! I'm so glad you're getting to study with them. I think they have to be amond the very best teachers out there. I want to hear more! This is stuff I need to learn.

  8. Melissa, we really wish you were here with us, we've been talking about you lots so hope your ears are burning!

    I can't wait to share with you all the fabulous stuff we've been learning. Stay tuned, lots more to come!