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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Burdick/Lyon workshop - Part 3

Oil on linen - 11x14"

This will be the final post on Scott and Sue's workshop.

This portrait of Doulton (Sue's Spanish teacher) was from the afternoon of the 10th day, when things finally began to click in and integrate. Had some help from Scott on this one, and I loved painting it. Doulton posed for us twice, and there was something so wonderful about his energy - he had a big, easy smile and a warmth in his presence that was immensely captivating. It was super rewarding to bring all the learning into capturing the essence of this wonderful model.

Scott and Sue's morning demo of Doulton

"Begin in a slow, steady, meditative mindset" - Scott
"Don't work out of stress - work out of thoughtfulness." - Sue

We saw this demonstrated again and again - a slow, deliberate approach by each of them. And at least once every hour, Scott would spontaneously announce, somewhere between a question and a declaration, "Isn't this fun?!" - I was never quite sure if he meant it or if he was trying to convince himself - but it definitely seemed to keep him in the zone and connected with his process.

So here are some key pointers:

5 Darks of the Face: (when lit from above)

  • eye sockets
  • base of nose
  • top lip
  • beneath lower lip
  • under chin

Initial block-in:
  • Immediately establish the correct angle of the eyes, nose, mouth
  • Initially draw changes in angles, point to point - round things off later
  • Don't move off of one point until you're sure it's accurate (get eye correct before moving to nose, look for the smallest jumps possible, nose correct before moving to mouth)
  • Think only of shadow and light at first, the largest division of lights and darks
  • Squint and lose halftones to create the drama of light, otherwise you will over-model the lights and not make the shadows dark enough - everything will come too close to the middle
  • It's easy to make the halftones too dark, remember they belong to the light
  • Color isn't critical at this stage - value and temperature relationships are what's important
  • Open eyes to see color - squint down to see value

Once the block in is complete, begin refining shapes and edges, using halftones to turn form.

When you've got a lot done and are trying to decide what's next - ask:
  • Where is my lightest light?
  • Where is my darkest dark?
  • Where is my hardest edge?
Put these in and diminish everything else.

"I am not concerned with getting a likeness. My focus is on getting the drawing, shapes, values and colors correct - and trusting that this will result in a likeness." - Scott

You can see that almost all of these pointers are universal - your work will grow if you apply them to whatever subject matter you're painting. It's impossible to try and share in a few short blog posts all the learning that happened in a 10 day intensive workshop, but I hope these few things have been helpful, and inspired you to put these two wonderful teachers on your list of important ones to study with.


  1. This portrait is just wonderful. Thank you for sharing the tips.

  2. Great photo of Sue and Scott at work. I see two very centred, calm artists in peaceful postures. I don't see any face making or teeth clenching! :-)
    Liz, your portrait of Doulton is EXCEPTIONAL! xox

  3. definitely inspired me Liz! Thanks for the recap...

  4. Thanks for the pointers from the class, looks like it all came together for you with this portrait of Doulton, amazingly beautiful.

  5. Wow, you're so lucky to have taken their workshop. It is a dream of mine to be able to do that one day. Thanks so much for your great tips and input, I really learn from your posts. And your portrait of Doulton is great, he looks like a character!

  6. I agree that your recap of the workshop was great to read for those of us who weren't there. I found "halftones are part of the light" to be a new consideration for me. Your portrait of Doulton made me really FEEL the person...You also really gave us a feeling of the intense, patient focus your teachers conveyed. I can't wait to see your future paintings!

  7. Hi Liz, Thanks so much for sharing your workshop experience and wonderful paintings with us. Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon are definitely on my list of teachers to study with...hopefully sooner rather than later!

  8. Wow Liz, that portrait is fabulous!

  9. Beautiful - just beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing the tips, too.

  10. Thanks for sharing, what a wonderful workshop. The portrait is amazing.