Alla Prima Ten
Up until this point in the semester, students have had to work almost exclusively from direct observation and from still-life arrangements. Translating three-dimensions onto a two-dimensional surface is inherently difficult but it is necessary to establish a core set of skills within the discipline such as measuring, mixing paint, and comprehension of form.
When the "Master Copy" assignment is introduced, despite the resolve and complexity of the original works, students no longer have to translate from three-dimensions. Since the source material has already been flattened, this enables students to spend less time perfecting their drawings and allows them to focus on more complex problems in the painting. For example, when copying a master work, one becomes acutely aware on the mark-making or the application of the paint. This forces the students to ask themselves the following questions, "How was this painting made?", "What passage was painted first?", "What information was simplified for the clarity of the design?" and "How does the direction, and application of the brushwork impact the final painting?"
The examples that I've selected by students all demonstrate the successful completion of the objectives of the assignment.
At the start of the term, I often inform students that they will have to paint a self-portrait by the end of the semester. Typically, students are afraid of this inevitable challenge. Drawing and painting the figure is difficult, especially when there is little guidance and understanding of both proportions and form.
However, in order to prepare students for this assignment, I provide an in-depth lecture that covers the proportions of the face, and several beneficial practices when first starting out. For example, a strong light source will help define the form of the portrait, and will help the artist capture a likeness of their subject. Therefore, students are advised to take reference images that have clearly defined regions of light and shadow before proceeding with their painting.
Once students start painting, I work with them individually on how to mix "flesh" color with their pigments consisting of only yellows, reds, blues, and titanium white. Specifically, they are shown how to mix relative color relationships and to start from a singular area of interest and work outwardly from their starting point. This daunting task, has now been broken down into a series of obtainable goals and helps demystify the act of painting portraits, which for many of the students, was a subject they would avoid. When a student realizes that they're capable of painting their own likeness, they're elated and empowered.
The examples that I've included all showcase a strong sense of form, relative accuracy of proportions, and plausible color relationships. These objectives are often more critical than walking away with a likeness.
The videos below were generated to support the lectures and demonstrations from my Painting I course. During the pandemic, these videos were essential in conveying critical information when in-person contact was often limited. These videos are still used in my class as supplemental reference material, especially when students are unable to attend class.