Notes from David Kassan’s Drawing Class @ PSoA Conference

Photo taken during David’s impromptu drawing demo in front of the General’s booth at the PSoA conference in Philly.

Alright dear blog readers (said in a Stan Lee kind of voice), do I have a treat for you! Out of all of my art heroes that I got to meet at the Portrait Society of America’s (PSoA) conference this year, I found David Kassan to be the most eloquent, generous with his advice and genuinely likeable guy. And because he talks almost non-stop while demoing, I got a lot of great tips to share with you all.

Here they are in all their glory:

David’s Pearls of Wisdom

-“In the block in be as expressive as possible.”

-“My first Impressions are always ok, but never exact. Don’t lock it in in the beginning. Be more organic- let it evolve.”

-“Everything is accumulation. Most expressive brushstrokes are in the beginning and get more refined as it goes along.”

-“Keep it blurry in the beginning, like getting to know someone. The longer you are with the model the more you get to know him and the further you develop your drawing or painting. By the end it should feel like you are shaking his hand.”

-“The only measurement I lock in are the eyes. Everything else is based on that.”

-“Everything is a guidepost – a milestone. Is this too long or too short? How does it fit in?”

“All are guess-timations in the beginning.”

-“In the beginning I think about squinting a lot and basic shapes.”

-“Its a 99% concentration on a blind contour drawing and 1% concentration on the drawing itself (constantly observe the model).”

-“Think about negative & positive shapes & angle, how steep is it? How do the shapes interact?”

-“Drawings begin on grey paper and get transferred to grey toned canvases.”

Personal Observations

-David will rub out the initial gesture if it is not to his liking.

-He adds dry white chalk to his black to create infinite midtones.

-When he draws he hatches, when he paints he hatches.

-David will often go over the entire portrait with white in a uniform stroke (very lightly) to knock back a little bit of the grey toned paper and create a foundation for the midtones & highlights.

-Often uses binoculars – even with a block in to “shore things up”.

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