Advanced Online Portrait Drawing Master Class Preview

September 4, 2019

Hello all,

As we enter into the Autumn months, I am hard at work on developing some new online class content, and wanted to share with you a few clips taken from my advanced portrait drawing master class. This class covers so much material, combining perceptual drawing methods with informed anatomical knowledge. The key to rendering a masterful portrait is understanding the balance between what is directly observed and what is lying beneath the surface. When we are able to do that successfully, we are observing the fourth dimension, which allows us to describe our subjects with much greater conviction.

I put this course together, after discussing with my students the challenges that they face with portraiture. One thing that comes up time and time again is “I can’t render realistic skin texture”. The trick is, when it comes to rendering a realistic form, 99% of the realism is achieved with shading. The subtlety of the surface texture Is always subordinate to the general form. If this concept isn’t understood, the textural details simply won’t make sense. After watching my video lessons and following along with my narrated instruction, I guarantee you will have a much better understanding of how to tie together the underlying anatomical structures of the face with shading techniques and surface details which will give your drawings a hyper-realistic finish. Check out the video below to get an idea of some of the content that I offer. For more info on this class and others like it, go to http://www.riverafinearts.com.

 

 

 


Combined Studio Portrait Drawing/Painting Class

August 7, 2019

Hello students and fellow art lovers,

I’m thrilled to now be offering my first portrait drawing/painting mini-course in my newly renovated home studio located at 1 Hidden Turn, Newtown Pa, 18940! Below is a brief description of the course content and a recommended materials list. Additional information can be found at http://www.riverafinearts.com. If you are planning to attend this class, please email me at riverafinearts@gmail.com with your contact information. I look forward to seeing you there!

This is a 3 week mini-course which runs from 10 am to noon on Friday, September 20th thru October 11th 2019.  Students attending may choose to develop their drawing or painting skills (or both) using the live portrait model. We will have a single pose for the entire 3 weeks, giving students a total of six hours to render their portraits. During this time, lessons will be given on facial anatomy, mapping out values, layering and blending with charcoal & pencil, underpainting, mixing flesh tones and glazing. Because students will be working in different mediums, I will spend a lot of one-on-one time with each student which is the advantage of a smaller class size.

RECOMMENDED MATERIALS LIST (DRAWING MATERIALS):

1.)  Drawing pencils (I recommend the Faber-Castell brand) in the following hardnesses;

(4H, 2H, B, 2B)

2.)  Nitram charcoal sticks (HB, H, B, soft round)

3)  General’s charcoal pencils (2B, 4B)

4.)  Kneaded eraser

5.)  Double sided shaders as pictured below – in assorted sizes

6.)  A small chisel blender paint brush and a soft round paint brush

7.)  Razor blades or x-acto knife

8.)  A sandpaper block as pictured below

9.)  Strathmore Bristol medium texture drawing paper (11 x 14 or larger)

– If you have any questions about the materials or anything else, don’t hesitate to email me at riverafinearts@gmail.com.

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RECOMMENDED MATERIALS LIST (PAINTING MATERIALS):

GENERAL PAINTING SUPPLIES:

Jars with lids for mediums
Paper towels or cloth rags
Soap to clean brushes (liquid dish soap works well)
Palette knife (these come in a variety of sizes and shapes; I prefer the 1/2 inch wide metal triangular-shaped ones with the wooden handle)
Art bin or tackle box to hold supplies
Tracing paper (pad or roll)

RECOMMENDED OIL PAINTS:

Titanium White
Naples Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Raw Sienna
Cadmium Red Medium
Transparent Red Oxide
General Rose Madder or Quinacridone Rose
Thalo Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Viridian Green
Cobalt Violet
Raw Umber
Ivory Black

*Note:  Rembrandt, Williamsburg and Old Holland are professional-quality paint brands which I like to use, but somewhat pricey. Windsor & Newton is good choice too and less expansive than the others. Feel free to mix and match brand names.

RECOMMENDED BRUSHES:

Rounds # 1, 2, 3, 5
Flats # 3, 5
Filberts (one large, one small)
Liners (at least one # 000 for details)
A soft bristled blending brush, and/or fan brush (watercolor brushes are very soft and can be used with oil paint as well)

*Note:  Loew Cornell and Ebony Splendor are brands which I like, although with brushes it’s more about the feel. I try to select ones where the bristles don’t feel too stiff, yet still hold their shape when touched – particularly if they have a fine tip.  Avoid brushes which look frayed or that seem to have loose bristles.

RECOMMENDED MEDIUMS:

Cold Pressed linseed oil, Stand oil and turpentine (Windsor & Newton or Gamblin brand)

RECOMMENDED SUPPORT:

Pre-primed stretched canvas or wood panels (11 x 14 to 18 x 24 inches)

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Above: Newly refurbished studio located at 1 Hidden Turn, Newtown Pa, 18940. If interested in attending a class, please feel free to email me at riverafinearts@gmail.com or call (609) 203-6270. I also offer private lessons. Additional information be found at http://www.riverafinearts.com.


Reference Images for Online Portrait Drawing I

May 15, 2019

Hello students,

Below you will find the reference photos for my online portrait drawing class! The first photo is a simplified tonal study of a skull. I would recommend downloading this image and then having a high-quality print made at Staples or Kohl’s to the approximate size of a real skull. Once you have the print, you can lay transparent vellum paper over it, and follow along with my anatomy lessons. The result of those lessons is displayed in the second photo.

The last reference photo can be used as a way of applying the anatomy covered in Lessons 3 and 4 to a real person. In my final two lessons, I explain this process quite thoroughly. Remember, everything that I teach is simply a way of introducing new concepts. Once you have some basic knowledge of facial anatomy and structure, you can apply this to your own drawings in a more intuitive way. This means that, after you have acquired some of the basic knowledge, you DO NOT need to follow a step by step process, but rather, let that knowledge guide your drawing approach. Although some of this may seem anal at first, learning this information can actually help to make the drawing experience more free and exciting.

For anyone who is interested in signing up for my Portrait Drawing I course, you can simply follow this link, http://www.riverafineartstudios.thinkific.com.
I hope to see you there!

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Reference Photo 1.

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Reference Photo 2.

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Reference Photo 3.

 

 


Supplies & Syllabus for Portrait Drawing II

April 10, 2019

Hello students,

For those of you who have signed up for my online portrait drawing II master class which will start on May 3rd 2019, below is a brief outline of what will be covered in each class as well as a list of materials. For those of you who are interested in signing up for this class, you will find a link on my website, http://www.riverafinearts.com under my “art classes” page.

First, I’d just like to express how truly thrilled I am to finally be offering one of the most extensive portrait drawing classes online. This class goes well beyond the basics. In addition to learning about the underlying anatomical structures which make up the human face, you will become more skilled in rendering subtle nuances of form, value and texture, which will give your portraits that incredibly life-like appearance that will leave your viewers in awe. If you took my portrait drawing I master class prior to this, you will already be familiar with a lot of the terminology discussed in this course.

1st Class

We will begin with a discussion of the materials, followed by a linear construct from a photograph of our portrait model using comparative measuring. The initial construction will focus on accurately deciphering large shapes with a series of vertical, horizontal and angled lines. This type of construction helps us to understand the width to height ratios of our subject as well as the big relationships. I will discuss and demonstrate this method in a real time video. As we begin to refine our contour lines, we will look for the curves and irregularities within the large forms. We will also tackle the linear construction of the interior forms (including shadow shapes) using the same method.

2nd Class

In the second class, we will discuss the importance of value as it relates to our subject.  I will then give a four part demonstration.

Part 1.

I will start off by discussing how to create an extended value scale. Working with different mediums allows us to increase our value range as each medium has it’s own inherent value.

Part 2.

Next, I will render a simple form with a combination of the different charcoals and pencils to push the light and dark value range further. I will explain ways to transition the mediums together to avoid choppiness or overly abrupt changes within the form description.

Part 3.

I will then create a “value study” of the model, focusing on the big shifts of light and dark, as well as the value emphasis which will strengthen the overall composition. This can often be done as a study for a larger image. The idea here, is to simplify the values into large graphic shapes like a posterized picture.

Part 4.

Finally, we will add a light layer of unified value to the actual drawing, creating a one to one ratio of light to dark. This will set up a strong foundation which we will refine and develop with additional layers.

3rd Class

Now we will begin to push our value range within a small area using the “window shading” technique. As I study my subject, I will explain how to work on layering darker values over the shadows, and gradually move towards the lights. This method will allow us to depict the subtleties of each form, and bring it close to completion before moving on to another area. I will break down the underlying anatomy and structure specific to each part with separate studies of the skull.

4th Class

I will continue to develop my shading with a narrated demonstration. My primary focus at this stage is to accentuate the forms and anatomical structures of the model’s features. In so doing, I will begin to transform the drawing into a life-like portrayal of human expression. I will also begin to talk more specifically about how certain muscles of the face form actual expressions.

5th Class

This is where all of the parts start coming together and the drawing slowly takes on a life of it’s own. As I continue to render the model’s features, I will be honing in on the subtleties which are specific to capturing her unique likeness.

6th Class

In this final class I will demonstrate how to push the “hyperrealism” to the next level by adding skin texture, individual strands of hair, etc. This is the layer where we transform the sculptural form which we’ve spent so many hours refining, and add, yet another layer of  textural detail. As we do this, we will also re-evaluate all of the parts, making sure that our values work as a whole.

(Below is a short clip of me demonstrating how to shade light values with a hard pencil – one of the many things which will be covered in this course.)

 

 

Recommended materials:

1.)  Drawing pencils (I recommend the Faber-Castell brand) in the following hardnesses;

(4H, 2H, B, 2B, 4B)

2.)  Nitram charcoal sticks (H, HB, B, 2B)

3.)  General’s charcoal pencils (HB, 2B, 4B)

4.)  Kneaded eraser

5.)  Double sided shaders in assorted sizes

6.)  A small, stiff bristled blending brush

7.)  Razor blades or x-acto knife

8.)  A sandpaper block as pictured above

9.)  BFK Rives white drawing paper (15 x 22)

10.) Strathmore Bristol medium texture drawing paper (11 x 14 or larger)

If you have any questions about the materials or anything else, don’t hesitate to email me at riverafinearts@gmail.com.


Commissioned Dog Portrait

December 13, 2018

Hello everyone,

Below is a video copied from my live facebook demo of myself drawing a commissioned dog portrait with charcoal and pastel on black-toned paper. This demo is about an hour long, and shows my process from the first few marks to the beginning of the tonal stage. Colors were then applied to the finished tonal drawing using chalk pastels off camera (photos of the finished result pictured below). Working with pastels this way is a lot like  painting indirectly over a grissaille which I discuss in the video.

I am currently working on putting together a series of online art classes for 2019 and was considering adding a “pastel pet portrait” class to the mix. If you are interested in that or any other topics, please let me know by adding your comments below. All of my online classes can be found on my website, http://www.riverafinearts.com. Thanks for your input and enjoy the video!

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“Molly” (completed) pastel & charcoal on black-toned paper

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(Detail)


Supplies & Syllabus for Online Portrait Painting Master Class

December 12, 2018

Hello students,

For those of you who have signed up for my online portrait painting master class which will start on June 17th 2019, below is a brief outline of what you can expect to learn each week as well a list of materials. For those of you who are interested in signing up for this class, you will find a link on my website, http://www.riverafinearts.com under my “art classes” page. I look forward to working with all of you soon!

First, I’d just like to express how truly thrilled I am to finally be offering one of the most extensive portrait painting classes online. This class goes well beyond the basics. In addition to learning about the underlying anatomical structures which make up the human face, you will become more skilled in rendering subtle nuances of form, color and texture, which will give your portraits that incredibly life-like appearance that will leave your viewers in awe. After 25 years of painting portraits, I’ve developed a systematic approach which begins with an accurate portrait drawing, followed by a limited color underpainting, and finishes with glazes (a technique practiced by the Old Masters which adds tremendous depth and luminosity to the final color).  Now I’ve condensed all of this incredible information into a 6 week course!  If you took my portrait drawing master class prior to this, you will already be familiar with a lot of the terminology discussed in this course.

1st Class

We will begin with a discussion of the materials, including panel/ground preparation. We will then create an accurately proportioned drawing from the live model using a variety of measuring techniques. This initial drawing will serve as the linear study to be transferred to the prepared painting surface using the cartoon method.  A series of additional pencil/charcoal studies will be made to emphasize the anatomical structures of various facial features.

2nd Class

A two part demonstration will be given on how to transfer the linear study to the panel and how to properly add opaque values to the underpainting. Once the linear study is transferred, the drawing may be refined in paint. Initial patterns of light and dark can be established with a single color using the “frottie” method.  Any additional drawing corrections can be made at this stage as well.

for the second part of the demo, a gradated value scale will be mixed on the palette using a limited number of pigments and then added over the frottie. This first opaque layer can be thought of as a “dead color” layer or a “closed grissaille”, and is used to establish the basic planar structures of the face. We will also take a closer look at the skeletal and muscular anatomy.

3rd Class

This is where we can begin to refine the big value patterns as well as the value transitions. As we carefully render the gradients of light to dark or dark to light value tones, we will begin to accentuate the plane changes of the face. This, in turn, will add  more three dimensiality to the inital description of form. At this stage, we can also start to analyze the relationships between local values and local colors.

4th Class

Okay, now comes the fun part!  This is where we take all of that wonderful under-structure, and sculptural form and bring it to life with the addition of  color. The first color pass is just a semi opaque layer of limited color to build upon the groundwork which we’ve already laid down. If we have a plan for applying the color, it can contribute to the nuance, mood and expression of the piece in a variety of different ways.

A demonstration will be given on setting up the palette with earth tones and prismatics as well as white and black, and then mixing up the dominant sections of the light, mid-tone and dark flesh tones that appear on the model. I will discuss tints, shades and tones. We will also examine ways to modify the chroma, value and hue by mixing in other colors. We will focus on matching the value of each additional section of color to the value of the underpainting. I will also discuss the fat over lean method and how to achieve this with the proper ratios of oil to spirits in each paint layer.

5th Class

Here is where we will begin to refine the color with an extended palette and add details such as highlights, surface textures, wrinkles, etc. This is the layer where the painting will really start to come to life! Highlights may be intentionally exaggerated at this stage in preparation for the final glazing layer. As we add these subtle details, we can also make minor adjustments to the value, chroma and/or hue to closely match the models complexion. We are going to have lots of fun with this! 

6th Class

Here is where we add the glazing, also known as the “finishing layer” which is an oiled down, semi-transparent wash which can alter the final color. It is literally like putting the icing on the cake. Through selective glazes, we can produce a radiant glow, add an overall atmospheric quality to the piece, or simply draw attention to an area (create a focal point) with an adjustment in value, chroma and/or hue. This is the moment where we step back and look over the whole image and decide if, how and where adjustments need to be made.

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Oil on wood (11 x 14)

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Oil on wood (detail)

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Oil on wood (detail)

RECOMMENDED MATERIALS LIST BELOW:

GENERAL PAINTING SUPPLIES:

Jars with lids for mediums
Paper towels or cloth rags
Soap to clean brushes (liquid dish soap works well)
Palette knife (these come in a variety of sizes and shapes; I prefer the 1/2 inch wide metal triangular-shaped ones with the wooden handle)
Art bin or tackle box to hold supplies
Fine sandpaper (I would get a range of grits such as a #220, #320 and possibly even a #600 for fine sanding the gesso/primer after applying it to the board)
Tracing paper (pad or roll)
A small paint roller with ultra-smooth foam rolls (at least 3)
Artists tape

RECOMMENDED OIL PAINTS:

Titanium White
Cadmium Yellow Light
Naples Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Raw Sienna
Cadmium Red Medium
Transparent Red Oxide
General Rose Madder or Quinacridone Rose
Thalo Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Viridian Green
Cobalt Violet
Raw Umber
Ivory Black

*Note:  Rembrandt, Williamsburg and Old Holland are professional-quality paint brands which I like to use, but somewhat pricey. Windsor & Newton is good choice too and less expansive than the others. Feel free to mix and match brand names.

RECOMMENDED BRUSHES:

Rounds # 1, 2, 3, 5
Flats # 3, 5
Filberts (one large, one small)
Liners (at least one # 000 for details)
A soft bristled blending brush, and/or fan brush (watercolor brushes are very soft and can be used with oil paint as well)
One very wide gesso brush

*Note:  Loew Cornell and Ebony Splendor are brands which I like, although with brushes it’s more about the feel. I try to select ones where the bristles don’t feel too stiff, yet still hold their shape when touched – particularly if they have a fine tip.  Avoid brushes which look frayed or that seem to have loose bristles.

RECOMMENDED MEDIUMS:

Cold Pressed linseed oil, Stand oil and turpentine (Windsor & Newton or Gamblin brand)

RECOMMENDED SUPPORT:

A 16 x 20 inch wooden panel (preferably oak or maple) primed or unprimed with a cradled back. If it is unprimed you will need to prime it using the procedure below. I will give a demo on how to do this when I discuss materials in week 1 but if you want to prepare this ahead you can follow the steps below. If bought all ready primed, then you can skip to the last step).

*Steps for priming an unprimed wood panel:

1.  Apply a thin coat of Acrylic gesso. Gesso can be thinned w/ water if necessary. Once completely dry, (it usually takes about an hour or two) sand with a #220 grit sandpaper to remove dust and air pockets.

2.  Apply a second coat in right angles to the first with the Acrylic gesso to ensure full coverage. The board should appear white without any visible streaks at this point. Let dry and sand again with the #220. If streaks are still present, apply a third coat with the Acrylic gesso.

3.  Apply a coat of oil primer (this will take longer to dry than the Acrylic gesso) with a gesso brush and finish with a roller to eliminate streaks and ridges. Let it dry overnight or longer. To test for dryness, use your palm or knuckle and lightly tap it to see if its still tacky. Usually 24 hours is a sufficient amount of time although in warmer temperatures, it may dry faster. Cooler temperatures will slow down drying time. Once dry, sand again with a fine grit paper (#220 grit if there is still some texture or #320 if it appears smooth).

4.  Apply another coat of primer. This will most likely be your final. If using a toned ground, you will mix your oil color directly into the primer until it reaches the desired tone and color prior to applying it to the board. If using an untoned ground, you will simply apply the primer following the same procedure(s) above. Once again, allow primer to dry overnight or longer. Once dry, finish with a final sanding. Usually I will sand with the #320 grit paper and then sand again with the #600 grit. For an ultra smooth surface, you can apply a little water to a soft rag and rub onto the board and then sand with a waterproof fine grit sandpaper such as the #600 grit.

RECOMMENDED PRIMERS:

Windsor & Newton oil primer
Acrylic Gesso

RECOMMENDED PALETTE

A gray-toned disposable paper palette (these look like pads with disposable sheets)

If you have any questions about the materials or anything else, don’t hesitate to email me at http://www.riverafinearts@gmail.com. I look forward to working with you soon!

 


Supplies & Syllabus for Online Portrait Drawing Master Class

November 28, 2018

Hello students,

For those of you who have signed up for my online portrait drawing master class, here is a brief outline of what you can expect to learn in each 1 hour segment, as well as a list of materials. For those of you who are interested in signing up for this class, you will find a link on my website, http://www.riverafinearts.com under my “art classes” page. I look forward to working with you soon!

1st Class

First I will explain and demonstrate how to use the various pencils, then I will discuss the basic planar structure of the head. By examining the head as a “box-like” form, we can easily observe the front, side, top and bottom planes. This is what I refer to as the geometric conceptualization which will enable you to draw a head from any angle whether it is imagined or directly observed. This is also a way of introducing the basic proportions which make up the human skull.

2nd Class

Here is where we will take a closer look at the skull using a replica paired with a live model. In observing the dominant planes which make up the skull, we will be able to recognize the boney landmarks present on any person’s face. We will discuss the proportional differences of facial features which can largely be determined by age, gender and ethnic backgrounds. While discussing proportional differences, we will also begin to apply observational measuring techniques using a live model.

3rd Class

We will continue to develop the construction of the model’s features, while paying close attention to the unique proportions of the skeletal and muscular forms. In my demo, I will begin to emphasize specific muscles which are most prevalent on the model, discussing their origin and insertion, as well as their function. Understanding the shapes and various movements of specific muscle groups, adds more clarity when rendering different facial expressions.

4th Class

This is where we will begin to apply value tone to the drawing to add more depth and further define the three dimensional volumes of the face. In my demo I will discuss ways to layer and blend your drawing material to create a full range of value tones.

5th Class

This is the final week where we will refine the subtleties of form and texture, giving the drawing a life-like quality.

I’m super excited about this class, are you!?

Below is my recommended materials list:

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1.)  Drawing pencils (I recommend the Faber-Castell brand) in the following hardnesses;

(4H, 2H, B, 2B)

2.)  Nitram charcoal sticks (HB, H, B, soft round)

3)  General’s charcoal pencils (2B, 4B)

4.)  Kneaded eraser

5.)  Double sided shaders as pictured above – in assorted sizes

6.)  A small chisel blender paint brush and a soft round paint brush

7.)  Razor blades or x-acto knife

8.)  A sandpaper block as pictured above

9.)  Strathmore Bristol medium texture drawing paper (11 x 14 or larger)

If you have any questions about the materials or anything else, don’t hesitate to email me at riverafinearts@gmail.com.