Hi everybody,

Finding models for a composition is always a challenge. A lot of people prefer to use photographs. One of the issue with photographs is that the light is flatten and equalized and you don’t see the variations of the values or the colours of the skin.

I prefer painting from life. This means that I will ask a “model” to sit in my studio or attend one of the many workshops in the Tampa Bay area where you get the chance to draw/paint from life.

I tend to go to a workshop session at Treasure Island Art Guild which takes place every Friday morning from 9:30 to 12. The model sits for 20 minutes followed by a 10 minute break.

As you only get 2 ½ hours with the model you need to work fast to capture the essence. This method of painting is called Alla-Prima (at first attempt).

In this posting I will take you through a portrait that I did recently which will be displayed in the upcoming Emerging Artists Exhibition.

See you soon.

The workshop takes place in the Treasure Island City Hall. As there are a number of artists painting/drawing you need to allow enough room for everybody to see the model. This means that my easel is about 10 feet from the model.


I paint standing up and hold the palette on my left hand, brushes on the right. I like painting on flat canvas which is placed on a piece of plywood. The canvas is primed with a color as I don’t paint on white canvas.

The model’s name is Cathy. By the end of the first session I try to have the main scaffolding of the face in place.

I am not looking for exact details but for relationships between the features, eyes, mouth etc.

By the end of the second session (1 hour) I aim to have the key values in place.

I have also identified a number of areas which I am going to try to preserve without paint.

Unfortunately I had a prior engagement so I took a picture to finish the painting in my studio.

The values I have in place are good markers of how the bone structure of the model need to be developed.

By the end of third session (2 hours), the features are resolved, the dark and mid-range values are in place.

What is missing to complete the portrait is the highlights. For this I have to wait a couple of days for the oil paint to dry before applying them.

Once I apply the highlights the portrait comes together.


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