Painting Workshop – Sean Cheetham Portrait Painting Alla Prima

Earlier this month I took a short painting workshop at the Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier in San Carlos, CA. It was taught by Sean Cheetham who is one of the most incredible painters out here right now. BACAA_outside

The goal of the class was to complete at least one painting with the alla prima approach. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, alla prima is a painting technique usually associated with oil painting in which you are working wet paint onto wet paint. The idea of it is to paint fairly quickly, while the paint is wet and fresh, usually finishing a painting in one sitting. I love this technique because I think you can come away with a piece that looks painterly and spontaneous.

The workshop was for three days, the first day being a demo by the instructor. The palette was reviewed and the class was given step-by-step insight into how to use the colors and how to break down your approach to an alla prima portrait. Maybe to a lot of people that sounds boring, but to an artist it’s such a valuable step in instruction. It helps to be able to get the visual of color mixing and application from beginning to end. I always come away from watching a demo really hyped up and thinking that I will be able to produce something just as good as the instructor. Never happens.

From left to right: Permanent Green Light, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red Light, Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, Titanium White, Maganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Olive Green (M. Graham)

The color palette. From left to right: Permanent Green Light, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red Light, Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, Titanium White, Maganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Olive Green (M. Graham)

The final two days were for the rest of the class to paint. We all tried our best to follow the approach that was showed to us in the demonstration. It was definitely challenging! At least for me it was. I just want to do great work, have confidence in my abilities and push through the hard parts of the process. But even with that in the back of my mind, I still get stuck! Luckily our instructor was very involved and helpful. He painted with us each day and walked around to each artist and guided us through different stages of our paintings.

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One of the demo paintings by our instructor, Sean Cheetham

Overall I liked the workshop and the way it was set up. I liked BACAA, the staff and its mission. Even though it was only a 3-day workshop, I could tell that the school fosters an environment conducive to learning and mastering the human figure.

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Some anatomy pointers from a different class

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More anatomy instruction from a different class

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A message on the main door as you exit the studio

My finished piece definitely didn’t turn out as great as I had hoped, but I still think that I did alright. Especially considering that I haven’t been in a classroom environment in a long time and have changed my style considerably since then. It was a fun learning experience and shined a light on the areas where I need improvement. I was also able to see things that I’m getting right, that’s progress in itself! Here is my work:

My initial sketch of the model

My initial sketch of the model

The final piece

The final piece

It’s certainly not what I would consider my best work, but better than what I expected! I did a full 2 part entry about it on my personal blog so definitely check that out too:

Sean Cheetham workshop at BACAA part 1
Sean Cheetham workshop at BACAA part 2

I will be keeping an eye out for another class that I can take at BACAA, it’s not that bad of a drive from Reno and it felt good to be in a classroom for a little bit. If you were ever curious about taking a course at an artist atelier, I definitely recommend trying it out. I think you will be challenged! You really can’t beat the experience of working with a live model and being surrounded by others who are serious about their craft. Any chance you can take to learn, improve and share is worth taking.

Spring/Summer 2014 Recap!

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Gahdamn, yes it’s been a while! The summer has been a busy one and I’m glad that things are slowing down a bit. My hope is to now get back to more of a structured posting schedule on Purple Paintbrush, though it will probably be more like a post every other week while I’m working on other projects for the time being. Either way, I wanted to share a bit of what has happened in the last couple of months so here’s a recap!

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Standing in front of a couple of my paintings from the show

I had my first solo art show! Mannnn, what a whirlwind. Most of my free time in the early part of this year went into preparing for that show. There were a few things that I picked up that I think are worth sharing here, but that will be for a future post. All in all, I think everything went well. In about 4 month’s time, I had 8 brand new paintings with a central theme to present to the world. It was bitter work, but it has been worth it! I took a bunch of pictures leading up to and at the show, and you can see them all in this photo album!

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No, not twerkin while I werk – just trying to work against the glare of the light!

At the opening, 5 out of the 8 paintings sold and I received a lot of praise and a few inquiries throughout the show’s run. Not bad for someone just starting out and learning along the way! Here’s a video that I put together of the opening night that basically captures the whole vibe of it (viewable in HD):

Another great thing about the summer was that some of my best friends flew out to visit, just to hang out and see my art show in person! Such a warm gesture.

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So cute and polished

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Yep, that’s more like us…

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Vatos locos 4 ever

It was a much needed break for all of us! It was almost a straight week of art, music and goofing off. Plus it was a great feeling to be able to show them around my new home, Reno, and introduce them to some of my new friends.

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Outside of that, I made sure to take a little time off in between projects to chill out. I traveled a little bit, checked out new spots around Reno, indulged myself in a little bit of debauchery (hehe) and saw a lot of great art shows and live music.

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Visiting an art gallery in LA

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Silliness downtown

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The Foreign Exchange in Sacramento

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Mark Sexton Band at Wanderlust, Squaw Valley

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24 hour Mural painting competition at Circus Circus in downtown Reno

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Mixed media artwork and installation by Alex Fleiner

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Paintings by Bryce Chisolm

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About to head out to start my birthday weekend!

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Well…it certainly ain’t apple juice

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Helping out at the June Art Walk!

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Going away party for my dear friend

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Dancing so hard the picture’s blurry

Now that everything is winding down, I’m more than ready to get back into some planning and new projects. Can’t sit idly for too long! I’ve been getting the itch to create. I have to stay motivated, especially with the momentum that I’ve been able to gather for most of this year. These days I’ve been working on more technical tasks, like updating my artist website to include a shop where visitors will be able to purchase prints and original artwork of mine. It’s a tedious process but I’m happy to say that it’s almost finished! I’ll also share with you what that’s been like. As I mentioned earlier, I want to return to posting regularly on Purple Paintbrush as well. So I’ve been brainstorming a bunch of content to share in the coming weeks. It’s been a chill yet productive year so far and I’m sorry that posting on here had to suffer along the way, but I’ll try my best to get back to some sort of consistency. I hope you were able to have some great moments over the summer too! I can’t wait to jump back into writing more art-related posts.

Thanks for checking in! ~~<3

Art Walk Reno, May 2014

Last night I was lucky enough to be able to visit a few of the venues that participated in Reno’s first official Art Walk! I’m still getting the hang of making videos like this though, so excuse me if it’s a bit rough. It was a perfect evening to take a stroll around the city, connect with locals and support local art. I’m really looking forward to going to the next one!

Checking in!

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Yes, these are office selfies.

Hi Readers!

I apologize for my lack of posts, I promise it’s for a legit reason! Over the last couple of months I’ve been preoccupied with my own work and building up my “brand” as an artist. I’m very happy to announce that I will be having my very first solo art show this summer! It’s certainly an exciting, busy and occasionally stressful time, but I fully enjoy it. Hoping that I’ll be able to share some posts about this process soon enough!

For now I just wanted to pop back on here to check-in and share some of the new places to find me. Spots that I more frequently update and are a little more personal than this space:

- Instagram: TraciLTurner

- My official website (finally sat down and completed it!): Traci L. Turner

- My Tumblr (some posts are NSFW): Trace, your ace

- My Facebook page: Traci L. Turner

All of these and other ways to connect with or contact me can be found in the Contact page on this site. New posts (hopefully) coming soon! Have fun, be you, and keep going!

~~<3 Trace

Throwback: My RAWartists interview

Last August I exhibited some work with the Reno chapter of the RAWartists organization. As a participant in the show, I had to do an interview where I answered a few questions about my work and my direction as an artist. At the time I thought that I completely botched the interview! But looking at it now, I think that maybe it’s not so bad. Though I will say that if I were asked these same questions again today, my answers would be slightly different. Probably a bit more well-defined and focused! Anyway, please enjoy!

(Watch it in HD!)

New Facebook Page!

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Until I get my actual artist website together, I have a new artist Facebook page that is up and running as we speak! So far I’ve just been posting random thoughts and sketches, works in progress, and whatever things I’ve been finishing along the way. Go “LIKE” it now!

Thank you!

6 Tips for Planning Your Creative Goals

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Now that the energy of the holidays has begun to die down and we’re well into the first week of a new year, it’s a great time to hop on the wave of change and plan out some of your creative goals. I think the key to setting yourself up for success is starting off with a broad idea then breaking it down into smaller, attainable goals. But there are also a few other things you can do that I’ve found to be very helpful. So if you’re ready to get a leg up on the creative goals you’d like to reach by the end of this year, here are some tips I hope will get you on your way:

1. Write them down
Seems like a freakin’ no-brainer, right?! But yes, seriously, write them down. The physical act of writing it out is literally a release, putting your ideas or goals out into the universe where you can see them. It’s a great way to organize yourself too. Sometimes just keeping it in one’s head isn’t enough, we need to see ourselves putting energy into the planning. If you don’t want to actually write it out, then type it out. Keep the list in a place where you can easily access it – be it a small notepad you keep with you, a file on your computer, or even as a task list on your phone. Use whatever you think will fit best for you. Overall I suggest doing SOMEthing to get your task list out of your head and made into a real thing that you can see and revisit.

2. Break your tasks down into smaller goals
A friend shared the this Creighton Abrams quote with me: “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” That encompasses the whole idea with tip #2. List your goals as broad statements. Then underneath each statement, jot down some smaller tasks or ideas that will allow you to reach the main goal. Here’s an example of one of mine:

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– Carry a small sketchbook and pencils with me
– Sketch ideas for paintings
– Practice drawing figures
– Get useful drawing books to help improve skills and confidence
- Try to sketch at least a few hours a week

I’d like to use some more of my time to practice drawing, so I just used the umbrella statement of “sketch more” then listed some things that I wanted to do underneath that category. Organizing your thoughts in this way will give you an idea of what you should be doing so by the end of the year you will be able to gauge how successful you were at pursuing the particular goal. I like to keep my lists pretty loose, not necessarily sticking with too many quantitative goals (i.e. 3 drawings a week, 10 paintings by the end of the year, take 2 classes by the end of the year, etc.). That’s just a personal preference. However if it’s something that you need to put out there in order for you to commit to it, by all means write it down!

3. Tell someone
Let people know what you’re trying to do! I suggest telling at least 1 or 2 people that you trust, people that you know will make a personal investment in your goals and will hold you accountable to them. It doesn’t have to be someone with a militant personality (unless you think that you need that!). I’ve found that the best accountability partners are those who are also actively pursuing goals of their own. These people understand the process, and appreciate the energy of others who want to be productive too. These people will push you. If you’re not around someone like that, then of course someone like a spouse, a sibling or a best friend will also work perfectly. Basically, choose someone who you know will genuinely care about and support what you are trying to do. Someone that you wouldn’t want to let down.

4. Check in with yourself
This is where you revisit your list to evaluate where you are with your goals. This part will vary from person to person, and will also depend on the tasks in question. Personally I have an informal and formal way of doing this. Last year and the year before I’ve been doing a more formal check-in every 6 months. So at the beginning of the year I’ll make a list of things I want to try to do, while seeing if anything from the year before should roll over. Then in the middle of the year, around June or so, I’ll check my list again to see if I’m satisfied with how things are going at that point. This is also when I may tweak the list as needed. Six months later, at the end of the year, I’ll check again to see how much I’ve completed from when I first created the list. Then it’ll be time to plan again for the next year!

Informally, there’s no real timeline for how I check-in. I’ll just prioritize maybe one or two main goals at a time, working around the list in a loose way. Making some progress here and there, then switching it up. That’s just how I am though, kind of scatter-brained and juggling a bunch of stuff at a time. Lots of unfinished thoughts and actions. Then I use my formal check-in to reel myself in and refocus. You might need to be a bit more structured to keep yourself in line. As I mentioned before, checking-in will vary from person to person.

"To Do" An installation by the art collective, Illegal Art.

“To Do” A post-it installation by the art collective, Illegal Art.

5. Add or subtract as needed
Sometimes it’s easy to get in over our heads and create goals that we can’t achieve within a certain timeline. Or sometimes we just plain lose interest in it. It’s okay, just scratch it off! On the other side of that, you may knock out your goals early and are looking for more to do. Or you may realize that some tasks need to be added in order to supplement other goals. Well, then just add on whatever you need! Allow yourself some flexibility. Nothing has to be permanent just because you started out with it. Change it up if you need to!

6. Roll ‘em over
Here’s where flexibility comes to play again. If you have goals that you didn’t get around to accomplishing by the end of the year, don’t beat yourself up and cling to feelings of failure – shit happens. Just roll the unfinished goals on over to the list for next year! Really simple. Maybe set them at a higher priority next time around so they have a lesser chance of getting lost in the shuffle. Either way, I’m sure by then there will have been a bunch of other stuff that you DID complete, so don’t get too hung up on what didn’t get done. I’ve rolled over my goal of putting together my personal artist’s website for the 2nd year in a row now. But this awareness has made me more determined to get it done, so it’s definitely a high priority task for me this year. Rolling things over isn’t lazy, nor does it mean that you don’t value those goals. It ensures that you’re always planning and working towards something.

Those are some of the main tips that I keep in mind when setting creative goals, though I suppose they could also work with any non-creative goals that you may have. I hope this post has been helpful! What are some artistic goals you’d like to achieve? What has helped you stay productive in the past? I’d love to hear it!