Flemish Painting Techniques (Linear Transfer)

December 6, 2020

Hello students,

Below is a video explaining how I executed the oil transfer onto the prepared support. This method allows us to establish a drawing with clear linear precision which will ensure a strong start to the painting. From here we will add values and eventually color. This method was practiced religiously during the early and middle Renaissance and mimics that of the famous Jan Van Eyck.

For the imprimatura I used Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna in a 50/50 mixture. This was thinned out with a small amount of turpentine and brushed semi-transparently onto the white ground. Once dry, I used a coating of Raw Umber for the linear transfer which I explain in the video below.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Advanced Portrait Drawing (warm & cool tones) Reference Photo

November 23, 2020

Hello students,

Below is the reference photo for my “Advanced Portrait Drawing (warm & cool tones)” master class.

Advanced Portrait Drawing (3 color on toned paper)

November 23, 2020

Hello students,

I would like to welcome you to this in-depth drawing course which explores the use of colored pastels and charcoal. The content of this course is based on a traditional technique consisting of a palette of only 3 colors, (black, sanguine and white). By limiting our color choices, we are able to fully explore a subtle range of warm and cool flesh tones. In the process, we will learn how to harness the subtlety that this palette offers.

In addition, I will discuss many other topics such as proportion, anatomy, shading, blending and layering. If you have taken any of my previous online classes on http://riverafineartstudios.Thinkific.com, such as “Portrait Drawing” or “Advanced Portrait Drawing”, you will already be familiar with some of the terminology. One of the main differences however, is the use of color.

If you are interested in painting with a limited palette or simply want to learn more about warm and cool color relationships, this course is a great option. My “Flemish Portrait Painting” class will be coming soon, and this drawing class would be a great prerequisite to that. I’m very confident that the information provided in this class will prove beneficial and help you in your artistic journey.

Below is a list of my materials as well as the reference photo which I’ll be using for my demo.

Thank you very much for choosing my drawing course. I really appreciate the support and look forward to your questions and comments.


David C. Rivera



BFK Rives gray paper (22 x 15)

Prismacolor NuPastel #277-P (ivory)

General’s white charcoal or white pastel pencil

Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel pencil #1122-191 (sanguine)

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

Nitram charcoal sticks (HB, B)

Nitram medium charcoal powder (see note)*

Kneaded eraser

Fine sandpaper

Blending brushes (I use mostly chisel blenders and soft rounds, designating different brushes for light and dark mediums)

Double sided shaders

A soft rag or chamois cloth

* Note: charcoal powder can be purchased from Jerry’s Artarama, however I prepare my own. Using a brush, I deposit the residue left on my sandpaper from sharpening my tools directly into small containers fitted with a lid.

Photo Reference Below:

Project 6 (transparent shapes with primary colors)

October 21, 2020

Hello students,

Below are the directions for project 6.

Like project 5, you will be working with transparent shapes, except this time you will be using all 3 primary colors instead of just one. This means that any section where 2 primary colors intersect one another, they will blend optically to form a secondary color. If one color has a higher concentration or chroma than another, the intersection will than become a tertiary color. The terms primary, secondary and tertiary are what make up the color wheel and we should try to become familiar with them. I’ve included descriptions below to make it a little more clear.

Primary – a color which serves as one of the 3 dominant hues on the color wheel and influences the secondary and tertiary mixtures. The 3 primaries are red, yellow and blue.

Secondary – a color which has components of 2 primaries such as an orange which has the influence of both red and yellow hues. The secondary colors are orange, green and purple.

Tertiary – a variation of a secondary color which has a stronger influence of one primary hue. Examples of tertiary colors would be a red-orange, yellow-orange, blue-green, yellow-green or red-purple, blue-purple.

In composing your designs, you want to have a display of all 3 primary and secondary colors. You may also include tertiary colors if it fits the design. For example, if an intense blue intersects a red that has been tinted with white, then the intersection should display a tertiary color of a blue-purple. Below are some examples.

This design is to be created on a 15 x 20 hot press illustration board with acrylic paint.

Good luck!

Project 5 (transparent shapes)

October 8, 2020

Hello students,

For project 5 you are to create a simulation of overlapping transparent shapes using 1 primary color plus black and white.

Try to imagine what 2 pieces of tinted glass or plastic would look like if they were placed one over the other. Ultimately you would see an increase in the chroma (intensity of color) and, if more and more pieces were added, eventually the value would get darker as there would be a decrease in transmitted light.

In your design, you want to use flat, solid colored shapes of the same hue, but that differ in value and chroma.

You should include all 3 of the following color variations in your design:

1.) Tint – 1 primary color + white

2.) Shade – 1 primary color + black

3.) Tone – 1 primary color + gray

Remember that you are ultimately trying to create the illusion of transparency. This means that the intersection between 2 colors should be a direct result of those colors. For example, if 2 tinted reds are intersecting one another, then the middle portion will obviously be a deeper/darker red, but only marginally so. You don’t want to exaggerate your contrasts or have too little contrast. You have to use your eye to gauge the color relationships which means that you’ll probably have to periodically adjust the value, chroma and hues within your design.

Below are some examples to hopefully give you a better idea.

This assignment is to be created on a 15 by 20 inch hot press illustration board with a 1 inch border.

All imagery must be painted using Acrylic paint.

Neatness counts! Please use a ruler for measuring and consider using artists tape for painting straight edges!

This assignment will be due on 10/14.

Good luck!

Project 4 (5 Value Painting)

October 1, 2020

Hello students,

For project 4 you are to create a non-representational design using 5 values. You will mix your values with black and white acrylic paint. The straight black and white paint will be used as 2 of the 5 values. Your remaining three values should be mixed and display equal contrasts between one another. To get started, think about mixing up percentages of white to black. If you are starting with 100% white for example, then the next darkest value should be a mixture of 75% white to 25% black, followed by a mixture of 50% white to 50% black, etc. This is only a starting point to give you a base, however it is important to visually gauge these value differences. Percentages don’t always work because the black tends to dominate the white. For pointers on how to mix your values, please see the video below.

For this design you will be using a series of non-representational shapes – these can be geometric or organic. Each shape will have a designated value and you want to use all 5 values equally within your composition. For any white areas, you must use white paint! Don’t leave areas blank except for your borders.


Your design will be executed on a 15 x 20 inch hot press illustration board.

You will measure out a 1 inch border on all 4 sides of your board. The design will be contained within these borders.

You will be mixing your values with Mars Black and Titanium White Acrylic paint.

The design should include shapes of varying sizes. Think variety.

Each shape should be a solid value and all values should be equally balanced within the composition.

Due date:

This assignment will be due on 10/6 at 4 pm.

Good luck!

Project 3 (object in motion)

September 23, 2020

Hello students,

For project 3, you are to illustrate an object moving through space. Think about what you might see in a storyboard, or still frames of an animated movie. To keep this interesting you will need to apply the concept of unity with variety. There will be a repetition of the same object, however many variations should take place to illustrate the movement.

This one involves some thinking and I encourage you to work out your ideas through sketches. Try to get those creative juices flowing!

In illustrating this, I think it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

1.) What path will this object be traveling in? Will it be straight, wavy, zig-zag, etc.?

2.) How will the angle or position of the object change as it moves through space? In the example of the leaf which I went over in class today, we observed that there can be many variations that occur as the leaf spins, rotates, twists and twirls in the air.

3.) Will the object be moving towards or away from us? If so, the scale can change to represent the appropriate perspective.

4.) Will the value change? A difference in light and dark value, can represent spatial differences as well as movement.

5.) Will the clarity change? Is it in sharp focus at times and blurry at times? This can illustrate a change in the speed (fast to slow, or slow to fast).

6.) Will there be a distortion? Often, when we look at photographs of something moving very fast, it appears more elongated.

The concepts above are just a starting point. You may use any combination of these, and also come up with some of your own to add more variety to your picture.

Below are some examples:

The other thing to consider with this project is rendering a background. The background should be a still environment that the object is moving through, such as a sky, a room, etc.

The object should move from left to right, just as you would see in a story board. There should not be separate frames for this project, as seen in the middle example. Each repetition will be a part of a single image existing within one frame (specifics for the formatting of that are listed below).


You will measure out a 1 inch border from the edges of your paper. This will be your frame of reference which your entire image will be contained within.


Using your Micron black ink pens, you may use any of the techniques that we used in project 2. You may also use combinations such as stippling with cross hatching. These images are representational so think about optical value to add more believability to your drawings. You may use any other references you wish, such as photos or other illustrations to help guide you.

Due date:

This project will be due on Tuesday, 9/30.

Good luck!

Project 2 (Optical Value)

September 16, 2020

Hello students,

For project 2 we will be working with “optical value” using 3 different techniques. You may choose to format each image within a 3 x 3 inch square on your paper using a vertical, horizontal, diagonal or staggered arrangement just as we did in the previous assignment. Each image should represent the same visual elements of shape, light, shadow, etc., however the techniques will vary.

When using optical value you must plan ahead, taking careful consideration of your full value range. Dark areas will be built up slowly with a series of marks, lines or dots depending on your technique. All of your pure whites will be a result of the paper with the absence of marks. One thing to consider is the values which fall between your darks and your lights which will act as mid-tone grays.

For this assignment I encourage you to search for reference images which display a large amount of dark and/or mid-tone values and a very limited amount of pure white. You can also sketch out and shade an image in pencil or charcoal first to help you decide upon the value structure that you’ll be using.

When you are ready to draw your final images, I would encourage you, once again, to start with pencil. Take your time drawing out each shape, including shadow shapes and light shapes, then fill in the areas of optical value with your Micron pens.

The techniques should be rendered in the following order:

Parallel Lines

(All lines are moving parallel to one another. These can be drawn as vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines, however, once you choose a direction, you must stay with that direction! The lines cannot altar. Please see the example below.)

Cross Hatching

(Lines can move in opposite directions either diagonally, horizontally or vertically as seen in the examples below.)


(This technique uses small dots in various arrangements as seen below.)

Good luck!

2 Dimensional Design (project 1) – Line Unity, Unity w/ Variety & Variety

September 9, 2020

Hello students,

Below are instructions for project 1 (line unity, unity w/ variety & variety).

For this project you are to draw out three equally proportioned squares measuring no smaller than 3 x 3 inches on your 11 x 14 inch Bristol paper. We will discuss all formats for positioning these squares on your paper in class tomorrow. Please be sure you are measuring for accuracy!

You will be creating a different non-representational (abstract) linear composition in each square using the following formats:

1.) Line Unity

All lines should be of equal width & length, have a consistency of direction and equally spaced. With this format, you may choose to use vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines. Your choices are quite limited, particularly if using horizontal or vertical lines, however, if using diagonals, you have the option of varying the direction provided that the lengths and widths are consistent as seen in the examples below. We will discuss additional formats in class. This format lends itself well to geometric pattern.

Below are a couple of examples of line unity.

2.) Line Unity w/ Variety

With this format, there will be a general, dominant pattern to the direction of your lines. You can vary the spacing, width and length. You may also altar the direction of a few lines to add variety provided that there is a dominant direction to most of the lines within the composition. The idea here is to create unity with variety. Below are a few examples.

3.) Line Variety

This format provides an opportunity to vary every line in as many ways possible. You can use broken lines, dotted lines, diagonal lines, wavy lines, thick lines, thin lines, etc. The possibilities for this are endless! Below are some examples.

For each composition you want to be sure that you are not leaving a lot of negative space. The dominant aspect of these designs are lines, so they should fill up the space. Think about an 80% line to 20% negative space ratio.

I would encourage you to work out your ideas in a sketch book first. There are many possibilities for this assignment, so try drawing out several renditions for each composition – think of your sketch book as a visual journal. Once you have an idea of your designs, carefully measure out your 3 boxes on your Bristol paper and draw your designs in pencil first. After you have everything drawn out, you can reinforce your lines with the black ink Micron pens.

Materials needed:

Strathmore smooth Bristol paper

Micron black ink pens (sizes .01, .03)


Ruler or T-square

Due date:

This project will be due on Tuesday, 9/15

Good luck!

Two Dimensional Design (project 10) – Imagery Inspired by Words

April 20, 2020

Hello students,

Below are instructions for project 10 (imagery inspired by words).

For this project you are to create an image based on a literary source. Your source could be a poem, lyrics from a song, a passage from a short story, etc. and should inspire a visual image. You may incorporate any of the styles and/or techniques that we’ve done in class for this project. Please be sure to include your literary source in a separate document or photograph.

The length of your text can be a few sentences up to a few paragraphs. If you select a longer source, you may take a smaller passage from it.

Below is a list of a few things to look for when selecting your literary source.

1.) words that describe something visual (a person, place or thing).

2.) words that describe a color

3.) words that evoke emotion (colors can be associated with certain emotions – see notes below for examples)

Red – Anger

Blue – Sadness

Gray – Solemn

Bright Colors – Joy/Excitement


This is an open medium project. Paint, pen, markers, pencil, colored pencil, collage, etc. are all acceptable mediums. 

The image should be done on a 15 x 20 inch hot press illustration board with a 1 inch border.

Due date:

This project will be due on Tuesday, 12/15.

Good luck!