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.

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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!

TraciLTurnerFacebook

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!

Gummi Bear, Acrylic on Canvas Panel

finish

I just shipped this one off to its new owner this week! A birthday gift for my stepmom, who requested that I just paint whatever I wanted. The only guideline she gave was that she didn’t want any cool colors, just a warm color scheme. It took me a while to figure out something that moved me. Then one day while eating some delicious mango gummi bears, I had found my subject. It also gave me an opportunity to practice a new texture with acrylic paint (oil is normally my medium of choice). I took the time to take a few pictures at the different stages, to show what I did.

No gummi bears were harmed during the creative process.

The subject!

Stage 1

Started with an old, unused background that happened to match the color scheme my stepmom wanted. Used chalk to create a rough outline of the gummi bear, using simple angles. Then began applying transparent washes of a primary yellow+titanium white+cadmium orange mix to illustrate the areas of light.

Stage 2

Then I started to use transparent washes of Burnt Sienna+Cadmium Orange to block in the shadows. You can see that I started to shape the feet – I was trying to do that so I’d remember where to paint them later, but I was completely off!

Stage 3

Started to get more heavy handed at this stage, using thicker amounts of my yellow mix to build up the lighter areas. For the midtones I still used the yellow mix, but with a little less water than before and blended with the brown mix. I used the paint flatly on the surfaces facing up (face, belly, hands), and roughly blended the sides and the rounder areas. I messed up on the feet, so I had to keep repainting over the mistakes to help bring it back to something I felt good about.

Stage 4

For the details, I took a lot of liberties with simplifying. I didn’t think I needed to keep the “A” on its chest, and I didn’t care for the face so I went rouge with it. I added way more highlights than I saw, to help emphasize the juiciness and gelatin nature of the candy. I wasn’t too concerned about it being “perfect”, I just wanted it to look like a cute gummi bear! So the parts that looked uneven or more transparent didn’t hurt the overall look too much. I started feeling really close to finishing here.

Finished!

Done! I took some diluted cadmium red light and applied it to some of the creases and rounded areas of the bear to help activate the painting with more color and help give the illusion of the bear showing through to the background. Added a few more highlights where I saw fit. Also tried to save the feet that I messed up! All in all, I’m happy with it. Looks like a mango gummi bear to me!

Whoa…!

RAW Artists Reno

I am truly humbled.

Back in August I participated in an artist showcase with the RAW Artists chapter in Reno, and this week I found out that I’m one of the top five nominees that will be judged to to move on to the semi-final round! Being nominated is based on getting votes, and honestly I had no idea that I was eligible to receive votes… so I did zero promotion for myself, very sad.

So I have to thank everyone that did take the time to vote me up and show any kind of support, especially to my coworkers and fellow nominees Nicole Oshan and Alex Fleiner who spread the word about voting and who I’m sure were the sole reasons that I received any votes at all! Please click on their names and check them out! I should know the results of the regional judging in the coming weeks.

Good luck to all of the other RAW artists who are nominees in their cities, and a huge congratulations!

Check out my art from 2013!

"The Garden" Acrylic on canvas, 20" x 24" 2013.

“The Garden” Acrylic on canvas, 20″ x 24″ 2013.

Finally updated my album of work on the Purple Paintbrush Facebook page! I just added a few things that I created earlier this year, plus a few pieces from recent years that I’m just getting around to publishing. Full descriptions are included for most of the work so you can get an idea of the inspirations behind the pieces.

Please feel free to peruse the album and let me know what you think! Find it here.

Thanks for viewing!

Life and Beauty, oil on canvas

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“Life and Beauty”, 22″x28″. Oil on canvas.

This was a commissioned piece that I just finished last weekend and finally sent off to the client two days ago. It’s going to be auctioned off at a fundraiser to raise money for the Amarna Project, an organization that promotes the study and preservation of the ancient Egyptian city Tell el-Armarna. Within the perimeters I was given for the piece, I decided to make my own version of Queen Nefertiti with the sun god, Aten, in the background.

Believe it or not, the opportunity was posted on Craigslist! My coworker sent it to me. (It helps to tell people about your artistic aspirations! You never know who will be willing to help you out.) I don’t have a personal artist website set up yet, but I sent the contact the link to my work on this blog and voila – I was in business. It was the first time I ever had to sign a real artist commission agreement. I’ll even get to take home a percentage of the sale at the auction, which is a luxury when donating work to a fundraiser.

As easy as it was to obtain the commission, actually painting this piece was a challenge for sure! This was ambitious for me because it’s bigger than I normally work, and it’s a portrait for which I had no visual reference. I wanted to just work from my head. Needless to say, the vision in my head was a bit different than how it was shaping up while I was painting. I reached a point in the middle where I really became frustrated and couldn’t even look at it. I just couldn’t get the skintones to work the way I wanted for the life of me. Through a bit of trial and error, somehow I pulled myself together and pushed through it and I’m quite satisfied with how it turned out.

Would love to know what you think!