Weekend with the Masters '11: Day 2

Welcome back! Day Two of the Weekend with the Masters conference started off bright and early with sunrise demos by artists George Gallo and Frank Serrano. My friend Jon Stasko and I were pretty busy that morning, but still made time to take advantage of the beautiful, overcast sky by plein airing on the wharf by the hotel. We had plenty of pelicans and barking sea lions to keep us company!

Nancy Guzik

I sketched Miss Nancy while she painted
Nancy Guzik encouraged her students to take note of the Five Essential Darks when painting a portrait: 1) the eye sockets, 2) under the nose, 3) under the upper lip, 4) under the lower lip and 5) under the chin. These areas have prominent shadow shapes that must be rendered accurately.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from watching Nancy's demo was to slow down and get it right. When she paints, her excitement often causes her to dance in place and sing! Yet, Nancy is highly disciplined and restrains herself from painting too fast, lest accuracy is sacrificed. Each value and color is carefully mixed, and each stroke is painted with surgical precision. We can all learn from Miss Nancy to take our time to be accurate and, above all, to delight in the joy of painting!

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4
(This shows Nancy's demo in its final stage that day,
but she wanted to continue painting on it
at a later date, namely to finish the eye)

Stage 4 (Detail)
Look at the beautiful variety of whites--Wow!

Richard Schmid Paints Alexey Steele

In the evening, Mr. Schmid conducted a live portrait demonstration in the main forum. His subject was Russian artist Alexey Steele. Words like "lively" and "animated" don't quite adequately describe Alexey. Needless to say, between Mr. Schmid's artistry and Alexey's flamboyancy, there was never a dull moment!

Blocking In

Some sweet palette knife action

Mr. Schmid saved the bow tie for last, and painted it
with just a few simple, bold, juicy strokes

The finished demo

Be sure to read Ryan Mellody's blog post on WWM Day 2 here, which includes a video of Mr. Schmid's demo and some insightful tips that Ryan learned from Rose Frantzen, Daniel Gerhartz and Daniel Sprick. Stay tuned for more!

Lasting Impressions Charity Art Sale

I'd like to announce a very exciting art event that will benefit the Schoharie Valley, New York victims of Hurricane Irene. The Lasting Impressions Internet Charity Art Sale was created by artist Jonathan Stasko, a resident of Schoharie Valley who was moved to help his hurting community through his art. The effects of Irene were disastrous. In Jon's town alone, an estimated 85%–90% of all homes experienced major damage or were destroyed. Please take a few minutes to watch the video below for just a glimpse of Irene's devastating impact on this area.

The Lasting Impressions Art Sale begins November 19, 2011, and will feature work by Daniel Keys, Taaron Parsons, Ryan Mellody, Andrea Orr, Paul DeLuna, Jonathan Stasko, myself and others. The proceeds will go to a local charity that is assisting property owner victims. Please consider purchasing artwork next month to a make a difference in Schoharie Valley.

The Lasting Impressions official website is here. It is still under construction, but you can add your e-mail address to the mailing list to receive the latest news about the sale. Also, check this blog periodically for more details about the event.

Weekend with the Masters '11: Day 1

Readers, I hope the chores are done and the kids are in bed, 'cause this one's gonna be a scroller! Wednesday morning, September 7th, crowds of eager-faced artists flooded the lobbies of the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, CA. It was the opening day of the 2011 Weekend with the Masters conference. The annual event is sponsored by American Artist and offers workshops, demos and lectures from some of the art world's leading representational painters.

Daniel Pinkham

Among the sessions that morning was Daniel Pinkham's plein air painting demo, held at the wharf by the hotel.

Daniel Pinkham's plein air demo
Daniel Pinkham • An Artist's Poem
Oil • 14" x 11"

Scott Burdick

I spent most of the morning soaking up a portrait demo by Scott Burdick. Watching him paint and studying the original paintings he brought showed me the great liberty a painter has to lay down paint in any manner he chooses, as long as he stays faithful to his subject. Previously, I would question whether I had applied a particular stroke in the "best" or "correct" way. Now, I feel liberated to be confident in the way I like to apply paint and relieved that I only need to focus on being accurate to what I see (as if that alone isn't hard enough!). An artist's brushwork should be the natural result of his accurate observation. Over time, an artist's cumulative brushwork decisions will result in his own recognizable "style," as unique as his fingerprint. Burdick's approach is bold. Thick, broad strokes cover his canvases, creating a beautiful, daredevil aesthetic. Yet, his seemingly unrestrained brushwork is expertly controlled, to remain honest to what he sees. His paint application sharply contrasts that of other WWM instructors who allow hardly any buildup of paint. Seeing both extremes first-hand helped me relax about my own brushwork and just focus on the basics!

Scott Burdick's live portrait demo
Burdick asked that his demo painting not be published, so to satisfy everyone's Burdick cravings, I included two of his originals below that Burdick brought as examples.

By Scott Burdick
By Scott Burdick


Richard Schmid Lecture and Slideshow

About noon, everyone gathered in the main forum for a lecture from Mr. Richard Schmid, entitled The Adventures of Painting from Life. The artist expressed how painting from life has brought him much happiness and has become one of his dearest friends (yet not so dear as his Nancy). Mr. Schmid also shared many slides of his work, including some that showed step-by-step progressions of his paintings, like the ones below.

I noticed later that Mr. Schmid had been enjoying
a Starbucks Frappuccino. So that's his secret!

Stage 1
Stage 2

Stage 3
Stage 4

Final Stage


Rose Frantzen

Rose Frantzen's portrait demo that afternoon attracted a huge audience. With her animated personality, lively story-telling and dazzling painting, she kept the crowd captivated until the final stroke. She combined traditional oil paint with oil pigment bars (from R&F), encouraging her students to not be afraid to experiment with various media.

Rose Frantzen's finished portrait demo


Panel Discussion

L to R: Daniel Gerhartz, Rose Frantzen, Richard Schmid,
David Leffel, George Gallo, Jacob Collins, Quang Ho
Mr. David Leffel moderated this year's panel, which included Mr. Richard Schmid, Daniel Gerhartz, Rose Frantzen, George Gallo, Jacob Collins and Quang Ho. The main topic for discussion was the objectivity and/or subjectivity of beauty in art. Much debate was sparked by the questions posed to the panel. "Is beauty objective or subjective? Is there any such thing as universal beauty or is beauty only in the eye of the beholder?" Quang Ho simply answered, "yes"—objective beauty and subjective beauty exist—before he expounded. Some agreed, while others held to either purely objective or purely subjective views.

While Dan Gerhartz was sharing his thoughts on beauty vs. ugliness, he commented, "why not talk about good vs. evil?" He got me thinking. Are there moral aspects to beauty? Does beauty exist beyond what we can see? After all, don't we often consider a kind word, forgiveness, an act of benevolence or true love to be even more beautiful than a rose or sunset?

I believe there is a Creator who made all things beautiful, both visible and invisible (see Colossians 1:16 and Ecclesiastes 3:11). The beauty of God's creation is objective because God himself acknowledged that it is good (see Genesis 1:31). But each of us is made unique and capable of appreciating and expressing beauty in an individual, special way, for the Lord's glory.

I'm humbled to think that God, in his love, saw fit to bless us with beauty in our world. We certainly do not deserve it. Because of our sin, God's beautiful creation of man was tainted (see Romans 5:12). Yet, also in his love, God sent a Savior, whom we also did not deserve (see John 3:16). Just as the sun sheds beauty across a dead, fallen leaf, so does the Son redeem us from the ugliness of sin and the consequence of death, if we will but trust in him. There is no other truth more beautiful than that!

For more on the day's events, be sure to check out Ryan Mellody's blog post here. Check back here often--more WWM coverage is coming!

Weekend with the Masters '11: Before the Event

Last month, I had the privilege of working at the 3rd annual Weekend with the Masters conference, held this year in beautiful Monterey, California. The event is sponsored by American Artist and offers workshops, demos and lectures from some of the art world's leading representational painters. Aside from getting to meet many artists whom I've long-admired, I was in good company--joining me on the WWM work force were three friends who attended my college, Ryan Mellody, Taaron Parsons and Jon Stasko.

For a few days before the conference, we joined our friend Daniel Keys for some painting fun in the Monterey area. Our first stop was the beautiful Carmel River State Beach.

L to R: Ryan, Lauren (our new young, aspiring artist friend),
Jon, Daniel. Taaron is at the distant far right, wearing blue

I worked quickly in an attempt to capture the low cloud-covering
before it lifted. Alas, the clouds rose, and I had to paint them from memory,
but it was still an amazing time at a beautiful location.

The next day, Jon and I got to be the "lucky" models for two head study sessions.

After a long painting session, nothing satisfies quite like pizza!

The following day's destination: Big Sur. The grandeur of the landscape is stunning. It was a bit windy, but the surroundings could not have been more inspiring.

L to R: Ryan, Jon, Taaron

After we spent most of the next day prepping for the event, we retired to the studio for an evening of still life painting.

Ryan achieves perfect form on his
patented Master's Soft-Pass Upstroke®

It was a great time of painting, fun and friendship!

Be sure to check back periodically--coverage of this year's Weekend with the Masters event will be coming soon! For more on our adventures at the event, be sure to check out Ryan's blog here.