My People: The Portraits of Robert Henri

My People: The Portraits of Robert Henri

I've decided to adopt a master and study their work this year. My choice for 2018 is Robert Henri! The reason I think this is a good idea, and one you should consider too, is because I want to look beyond the surface and understand what makes another artist's work so compelling. 

For example, Robert Henri ( pronounced Hen-rye. ) made a shift from a dark, somber palette influenced by the style of painters like Goya and Velasquez to paintings filled with color and light. That's a big transition, how and when did it happen? 

I also love Henri’s lively brushwork and fresh, simple approach to the figure that is rich and painterly. Below is an example from his excellent series of children’s portraits. 

Read More

In Retrospective: Andrew Wyeth

In Retrospective: Andrew Wyeth

Seattle and Portland recently hosted two excellent Wyeth exhibits. There is much to say about both but I’d like to focus on the Seattle Art Museum’s impressive In Retrospect - Andrew Wyeth, Oct 19th - Jan 15th.  There was not just quantity but also great variety of work in terms of media and subject matter. 

There’s a mystical quality to AW’s work I find very compelling. I think he had a wonderful cinematic eye that tells a story of silence and space, of passing time, and of life and death itself. 

Read More

Imagination Station: Anatomy

Imagination Station: Anatomy

I really enjoy teaching artistic anatomy and one reason I'm such a big fan is because of invention. Anatomy is a rich source for ideas and it's quite fun to sit down with a pencil and let your imagination run free.

Anatomy forms, especially structural ones, inspire me to invent new ones based on existing ones. And that builds my drawings or creative process in an organic way.

Artistic anatomy is not only a great vehicle for learning artistic principles, it improves your drawing ability. It also develops 3-D visualization skills and working from memory. All three factors: strong drawing, visualization and memory greatly aid invention.

Read More

Travels, Workshops and More...

I just returned from a three week trip to the east coast. Highlights included visits with family and friends, the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, the Met in NYC, a quick stop in Boston and a week in Maine with visits to Mohegan Island and Portland.  I'm lucky too! My good friend Peter gave me a beautiful travel guitar and Miles Orvell, husband of my dear cousin Gabriella, gave me two autographed copies of his books on photography. Welcome additions for my soul and my library! : - )

The Barnes Museum is very impressive. Despite the controversies surrounding their move I think they kept true to the vision and spirit of Albert Barnes in how he wanted to exhibit the collection.  If you're a fan of modern art the Barnes is truly a must-see. It has a an extensive world class collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings by artists like Matisse, DeChirico, Cezanne, Demuth, and many others.

What is most interesting and delightful is the idiosyncratic way Barnes chose to display his collection alongside all manner of decorative iron and tin work, folk art, drawings, religious paintings, iconography and furniture from different eras as well as sculpture. The museum itself is an architectural gem and I loved the aesthetic of combining different textures of granite, wood and other natural materials along with " naturescapes " throughout the building. 

Next on my journey was a family reunion and a little people-watching and sight-seeing in New York. I  made my way over to the Met where I spent an evening unexpectedly lingering in the greco-roman sculpture hall. I gained a new appreciation for Roman portraiture, they're stunning in their realism and life force. Paintings and other artworks that caught  my eye this time around include A Man Holding a Jug by Michael Sweerts, a drawing of a horse by Sargent, mosaics and the simplicity of Puvis de Chavannes. Such a great museum, gems to discover and rediscover each time you go!

Maine is a beautiful state and I'd like to go back again. I've never been to a place with such an abundance of waterways! Towns like Wiscasset have that great New England look and feel. And cities like Lewiston, with its converted and abandoned old brick factory buildings, remind us of New England's industrial might and past. I liked Portland and Mohegan Island best but hiking in places like Blue Mountain and touring the countryside is hard to beat too. Monhegan Island became famous as an artist colony hosting the likes of Edward Hopper, Wyeth and many others. It's small, easy to hike and picturesque. It seems a painting was  waiting to be painted at every bend. I didn't get to paint but I hiked, sketched and explored along Mohegan's craggy shores. Here's a few quick sketches including the lighthouse ( I think Hopper did a few of these ).  : - )

There's still time to sign up for for upcoming workshops this summer. I'm teaching drawing, painting and monotype! Below are links for more info.

Portland Art Museum: Drawing from the Masters ( July 16, 18, 25 and August 1st ). An opportunity to draw and learn directly from masterworks in the Gods and Heroes exhibit this summer! 

PNCA: Big Brush Portrait Workshop ( July 14 - 18 ). Four day portrait intensive with a focus on finishing a convincing portrait study in 3 hours, direct painting and study of the methods used by masters such as 

Multnomah Art Center: The Portrait in Monotype  ( August 22nd ). Try something new and learn the basics of monotype printmaking at MAC's, known as the painterly print, to create rich expressive 

Multnomah Art Center: Landscape Painting Workshop ( August 25 -29 ). 

Portland Art Museum: Painting Demo ( July 18 & 25th from 2 - 5 pm ). I will be working onsite the Portland Art Museum creating a mastercopy painting from one of the masterworks in the exhibit Gods & Heroes. Stop by and say hello, talk shop and see a great exhibit. 

If you're interested in studying privately with me please contact me about Mentored Drawing Studio.

Have a great summer!

Portraits: From Pencil to Drawing with a Brush

I'm teaching another 4 week portrait workshop at Caballero Studio in SE Portland starting in April. We're going to continue our focus on structure and likeness with a greater emphasis on smaller forms and details. The drawing studies will be longer and we'll move from color temperature drawing ( Aux Quatre Crayon ) to drawing with a brush using thin applications of oil paint in monochrome using just one or two colors.

I greatly enjoy the transparent monochrome approach because it's an open method that's very forgiving and somewhat akin to watercolor. Thin washes of color are applied over the white of the canvas to create the image. Darks and mid-tones can be rubbed out if they get too dark or the paint too heavy.  The image stays malleable throughout the painting session.

Using a minimum of materials transparent monochrome oil painting is also a great way to practice brush handling and transition from drawing to opaque or alla prima painting.

Two artists who paint transparent monochromes as finished paintings are Aaron Westerberg and Richard Schmid. Here are examples of their work. >>>

For more info about the upcoming portrait workshop and the next open house at Caballero Studio please click below:

I'm excited to announce that I'll be teaching at                  Pacific Northwest College of Art for their continuing education program.   Stop by on First Thursday! Their newly renovated Beaux Arts Building has been the talk of the town.

I will also be spring quarter at teaching figure drawing/anatomy and portrait painting on Monday's at Multnomah Art Center.

Sara, portrait sketch in oil by EF

PNCA Commons, Beaux Arts meets Modern.







Portrait Drawing Inside & Out

I’m teaching at Lisa Caballero's lovely studio at Towne Storage on SE 3rd and Ankeny. Whatever your style Portrait Drawing Inside & Out will help give your drawings more depth and capture the spirit of your sitter. Good for painters too! 

Lisa is also teaching So You Think You Can’t Draw. It’s a fun class for anyone starting out or wanting to refresh their understanding of drawing fundamentals. Highly recommended!

If you have questions feel free to email me. Or, if you wish to go ahead and register please contact lisa. More info below.

life drawing by EF
Portrait Drawing Inside & Out  Learn the fundamentals of portrait draftsmanship with an emphasis on gesture, structure and anatomy. Understand facial character by understanding key landmarks, basic structure and the unique shapes that create a likeness of the model. Artists will also learn how to give a three-dimensional quality to their drawing by understanding how light affects the forms on the face. Drawings will be done in pencil, charcoal and aux quatre crayon ( 4 colors ) on toned paper.
Work in a professional studio with great lighting and vantage points for drawing the model. The small class size is ideal for all drawing levels and for painters wishing to advance their craft.
Dates: Wednesday’s from 6:30pm - 9pm, Feb. 25th - March 18th. ( 4 sessions ) Tuition: $130 
To register visit:
Location: Caballero Studio is at Towne Storage - SE 3rd Ave and Ankeny

Aux Quatre Crayon? See my blog post here.

Notes on Teaching

I'm happy to announce that I'm teaching portrait drawing and painting as well as Artistic Anatomy at Multnomah Art Center in Portland.  I've given a lot thought lately to gesture, which in my eyes is the lifeblood of drawing.

As I mention to students: you can have a beautifully drawn or painted figure but if the gesture is missing you're not telling an important part of the story!

Gesture isn't about detail but about striving to see how the parts relate to the whole, and how to convey the rhythms and balance of opposites that are so striking about the human figure. These rhythms, without much detail, allow us to recognize a neighbor in conversation from a block away Or by their walk on the way to getting the morning newspaper.

It takes practice to grasp gesture and one of the best ways to do this is gesture drawing! Fast intuitive drawing informs our slower more analytical styes of drawing in a very deep way. And builds confidence and a sure hand, as well as inspire us to catch the dynamic of the models' poses.

Two books I recommend highly are Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Mike Matessi and Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton. The latter also being an excellent anatomy book for artists.

Whether at the local coffeshop or in the figure studio making lots of fast intuitive drawings with a keen eye on seeing the gesture gets you there and is fun. I have pads full of gesture drawings, here are a few from the mix. Enjoy!