Workshop Wednesday: Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson demoing during his recent workshop, June 2016.

Twice now I have had the  pleasure of taking a Robert Johnson workshop. Both at the private studio of a wonderful friend of mine in Purcellville, VA. This most recent workshop occurred during the record breaking deluge of rain we received in Northern Virginia. However, despite the rain spirits were bright and the painting “spell” cast by Johnson was magical.

Robert Johnson is a master painter of exceptional skill and technique. His marks are in essence calligraphic–and he admits to having been inspired early on by the Japanese art of Sumi-E painting. This influence is evident in his work and separates his approach to oil painting from his contemporaries. The way he  applies paint is a performance all on its own. He delicately controls the lift & pressure of his brush to  accurately render the ephemeral quality of his subjects.  Any opportunity to study with him is not to be missed.

One of the highlights of this recent workshop for me personally, was meeting an honored participant, the noble Statesman from Virginia–Senator John Warner. Senator Warner  stands with other notable Statesmen (such Winston Churchill), who have turned from  politics to painting later in their career. I thoroughly enjoyed the Senator’s recollections of his time both as Secretary of the Navy and as a United States Senator as well as his anecdotal stories of celebrities and personalities he has known along the way.

Below are my notes that I took during both of Robert Johnson’s workshops. I have placed them in categories to make them easier to understand and apply:


Robert Johnson’s initial drawing in Transparent Red Oxide from the first workshop, June 2015.


-Decide which direction the viewer will travel through your painting.

-Concentrate on negative shapes, variety, design. Decide whether your design will go off the canvas–if so, let it go off in several directions or it will look like a shortcoming.

-You want variety in your set – up. Its inherent in nature.

-Seek a feeling of movement. Good proportion: mass of flowers to greenery to container.

-Using the convention of “polarity”-the juxtaposition of opposites, allows both objects to acquire visual impact. i.e. vertical/horizontal, bulky/delicate.

“The function of the background is to support the “prima ballerinas”. It should not detract from the main event. The background should not be as thick, the values not as saturated ed, the edges not as hard, etc.”

-“Strive to get depth, even on a front to back composition.”

-“The eye goes to hard edges, more paint & bright colors. Be aware of this and design accordingly.”

Robert Johnson further along is his demo. Here he is working on the design of the rug, June 2015.


-Works on double primed lead supports.

-Preferred medium mixture: 5 parts stand oil, 5 parts Gamsol (OMS), 1 part damar varnish.

-Lays in an “imprimatura” wash with cobalt, viridian & transparent red oxide. Puts down marks on top in a rhythmic patter which he sometimes allows to show through in the final product.

“What do mediums add to your painting? They loosen up piles of paint, make longer brushstrokes like in the background and can create transparency”

-“You need flat brushes to get at the delicacy of the flowers. Paint them with the thought that if you blew on them they would move.”

-“All brushes should come to a nice sharp edge. Even your filberts.”

-Begins laying in his drawing very loosely-brush held way back, long brushstrokes. Thins down paint with turps (OM).

-Paints with only one glove on his “painting” hand.

Robert Johnson’s palette.


On levels of importance: Values, then Edges, then Colors

-Johnson wipes out the flower masses with paper towels from his initial drawing to set up the structure . He lifts quite often.

-He recommends creating charcoal drawings on toned paper to get used to “lifting out lights. Wipe out like an artist–your touch should have the feel of going over a peony.”

-“Paint the subject as if it is a under single source light. Ignore the ambient light.”

-“Don’t ever leave anything on your canvas that is confusing. Make it clear.”

-Johnson often redesigns as he is painting. He will mutter to himself, “Let’s make this little guy (a yellow peonie bud) white.”

-“The moment you touch your canvas, everything should be done with artistic intention.”

-“Don’t think about sugar bowls and roses-think about shapes and how they relate to one another.”

-“There is no democracy in art. The big forms always win.”

-“Get to your final painting stage quickly so that all you have to do are revisions. Finish the big statement as quick as you can.”

-“Always remember that perpendicular planes reflect the light the most. If you are having problems seeing or drawing try to remember that principle.”

-“Try to put the light down horizontally-it will stand out more. Implies ridges.”

“The Rembrandt effect”: Horizontal then vertical marks, ending on the vertical.

-THE 5 MIN RULE: “When you make a bold statement there is this instant fear that you have done something wrong. When you have that urge to change it-ignore it. Take a deep breath, recognize what is happening. Give yourself permission to modify it–but only after 5 mins.”

-“Strength and boldness lead to more strength and boldness. This is the purpose to the 5 min rule.”

-“Learn to make good descriptive brushstrokes. As the painting evolves each stroke should be laid down as if it is never getting lifted.”

-“Maximize the utility of the highlight. Give them breathing room in your design.”

-“The light (within a painting) can describe the intensity of the light on the subject, the surface texture, direction of the light, the contour that it is going over.”

On painting flowers: “Start with the outside shape of the flower, get that accurate. Then strive for the dimensional -the light and dark of it. Only then have you earned the right to paint a petal. Work abstract to detail.”

-“Say the most with the least. Be precise and you can get away with suggestion.”

-On the second day of a painting Johnson begins reworking the canvas by reapplying the background color so he has something to paint into.

On painting rugs: ” Try to establish a pattern. Don’t be a slave to it. Rugs should have a clear, paintable pattern to them. Use the weave of the canvas to describe the weave of the rug (sometimes scratches the paint away with the side of a palette knife to reveal the weave). Say the most with least. Allow the materials to do the work for you. Go back in and restate the design of the rug but avoid getting mechanical & uniform with your brushstrokes. Use a light touch, get the paint just on the tip of your brush and drag it into place.”

-“Brushwork should be a muscle memory thing. You should be able to render the object just by looking at it with your eyes.”

“Just lay the paint on. No scrubbing. The paint will look better if you just allow it to do what it naturally does.”

-“You need a blend of soft and hard edges. Let the soft edges dominate. Use hard edges sparingly. Especially in the background. ”

-“If you can do it in one stroke it looks better. Start with a very light touch and then apply pressure-the stem will be painted naturally going from thin to thick.”

Detail from Robert Johnson’s finished demo, June 2015.


-Follows thick lights/thin darks rule.

-Gets a highlight on quickly to key in the values.

-“A trick from Sargent’s portraits: Add more light/color to the shadow of a subject–just past its contour. It helps turn form more and gives a sense of air.”

-“Within the dark areas there are accents. The opposite in value of highlights.”

-“We never think “dark” (values) with flowers but we should.”

On foliage: “Layer light over dark, dark over light–adds dimension. Overlapping planes also give you dimensional”.

“Cast shadows are extremely important. Get them in early. They keep everything honest, related. The main thing I think about here is getting them dark enough and in the right places.”

On greenery: “Ultramarine blue + Cad yellow pale + something from the red family. Always sneak red into your greens.”

On painting red roses: “Don’t make lights, lighter- make darks, darker. White only makes red look chalky.”

-“Be careful painting yellow roses. It is the color most easily adulterated. It turns the key way down when other colors are accidentally introduced to it”.


Recommended Reading

-“Painting Techniques of the Masters”, Hereward Lester Cook

-“Russia, the Land, the People”

-“The Painted Word”, Tom Wolfe


A comparison of Robert Johnson’s subject and painting from the second workshop, June 2016 (unfortunately the photos are not taken from the same exact position). Notice how beautifully nuanced he pairs the background color to his rug. He changed the hue to suit his artistic statement.He also turned up the chroma in the design of the vase for the same reason.
The finished demo painting, June 2016.





Art Tourist: Seeking Andrew Wyeth

Suzanne Lago Arthur Outside A. Wyeth Studio
Here I am proudly standing in front of the door to Andrew Wyeth’s studio in Chadds Ford, PA. Imagine being so famous that you need a sign like that in order to get work done. Love it!

Last November, my family and I made a very special pilgrimage to the Brandywine Museum, but more specifically to the studio of the late great Andrew Wyeth and to the Kuerner Farm that he immortalized. I have been a huge fan of Andrew since my childhood and a couple of years back was also able to visit the Olson property in Maine that he made famous in his painting “Cristina’s World”. Little did I realize that the great man is buried there or I would have introduced myself to him properly, paid my respects and thanked him for all the years of inspiration.

Every year since my trip to Maine, I have promised myself that I would go see his studio in Chadds Ford, which is only open for part of the year. And every year it seems I would miss the window. But finally during last November I made it and on the very last weekend that it was open. Hooray!

So you may be asking yourself why I am writing this post now? Because the studio is open again for tours from April 1st – Nov 20th. Chadds Ford is beautiful during this time of the year. If you are a fan of the Wyeths as I am, you will not want to miss the opportunity to experience their world and the huge impression they left behind in the Pennsylvanian countryside.

Andrew Wyeth’s studio in Chadds Ford, PA.

Andrew’s studio is set up exactly as the artist left it. As if he has just stepped out of his studio for one of his regular walks in the surrounding countryside. There are drawings (reproductions) strewn throughout the floor. Egg tempera supplies still await his skillful hands and jars of luminous dry pigments line a window’s ledge.

Copy of A. Wyeth drawings
Watercolor and graphite drawings (reproductions) are tacked up on the wall just as Andrew would have kept them.
Jamie Wyeth’s corner of his Dad’s studio showing preliminary drawings of Robert and Edward Kennedy.He used these studies to help him achieve a likeness for the commissioned posthumous portrait of  President John F. Kennedy.
A partial view of Andrew Wyeth’s personal book collection. The “art nerd” in me rejoiced upon the very site of it.

We were able to see the Kuerner Farm as well which was a huge treat considering that Andrew produced over 370 works of art on the property. There is a wonderful book documenting his time and productivity on the farm called “Wyeth at Kuerners”. It is out of print now but if you are able to get a hold of a copy I would highly recommend it. It contains a personal narrative told by Andrew on each of his paintings from this series including all the preliminary drawings. It is an invaluable insight into the process of a great American master artist. I got my treasured copy from a wonderful friend (thank you again, Karen) but I have seen them available any where from $8 – $249. The curatorial staff at the Brandywine even reads from it during their tours.

Kuerner House
Here is the Kuerner House seen from the window.
Kuerner House_Evening At The Kuerners
(Above) Another angle of the Kuerner house with one of Andrew Wyeth’s painting’s, “Evening at the Kuerners” for reference (Below). My husband and I once owned a similarly aged  “4 Square” farmhouse. I wonder now if I was drawn to it subconsciously from spending all that time staring at these Kuerner paintings.
Sink in Kuerner's Barn_Spring Fed
(Above) Just inside the Kuerner’s barn is the original spring fed sink. (Below) Andrew Wyeth’s “Spring Fed”painting.
My son, standing on the Kuerner porch watching the sun set at the end of our excursion.

Workshop Wednesday: Teresa Oaxaca, the Figure in Charcoal

“La Primavera (self portrait)”,  charcoal on paper,  by artist Teresa Oaxaca.

This past weekend I ushered in the New Year with a bang by attending Teresa Oaxaca’s “Figure in Charcoal” workshop at the Art League in Alexandria, VA on Jan 2 – Jan 3rd. Considering that just the day before the workshop I was a little sleep deprived–and ok, maybe still “recovering” from the festivities, I was really happy and perhaps a little surprised when everything “clicked” for me during the workshop. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been, Teresa Oaxaca has a lot to share with her fellow artists so listen up.

Full disclosure: I have been a big Teresa Oaxaca fan from the very first moment I met her in Rob Liberace’s classes at the Art League. In fact, I own two of her self portrait drawings and one of her etchings (hint: when she says something is unsold over social media, that is your cue that you can purchase it). Teresa is one of my favorite contemporary artists and in my opinion the most promising. I just love the boldness of her charcoal drawings, the mixture of the gestural abstraction and rendered form. They are exquisite.  And the fact that Teresa herself is super sweet and down to earth–I just knew I could learn a lot from her and I definitely did.

The following are my notes from the workshop and I hope you gain as much enlightenment from them as I did.

Teresa Oaxaca during her charcoal portrait demo.

-Teresa’s block-in is a big envelope, very loose, light & gestural.

-Sometimes the looseness (gesture) from the beginning is kept through the piece {I would add that it is this initial gesture that gives so much life & contrast of textures in her drawings}.

-She begins with a jumbo soft charcoal piece and initially adds a center line, eye line & forehead line followed by the shadow shapes of the eyes and nose. The rendering of the mouth and chin come second.

-Prefers Canson Mi Tientes paper (smooth side) and vine charcoal.

-Teresa uses a lot of straight hatching lines. “Easier to get structure in and keep it that way.”

-Usually works life sized and steps back from the easel often to check her drawing.

-If you want to use crazy, energetic hatch lines like Sargent did in his charcoals (and Teresa does) you must have a solid geometric structure underneath {This subtle but powerful advice was one of the things that really resonated for me}.

In process shots from Teresa Oaxaca's charcoal portrait demo.
In process shots from Teresa Oaxaca’s charcoal portrait demo.

-“Geometric shapes render & anchor the drawing.”

-Her subjects start off looking more exaggerated in the beginning and then get more accurate as she continues working.

-She spends most of her time developing the light & shadow areas and then will knit them together.

-The nature of charcoal is that it is just dust. Get used to the fact that you will be constantly readdressing your darks throughout the process  of creating a drawing.

-Uses a brush to soften along the core shadow on a cheekbone or will just drag the charcoal across.

-Shadows are solid, mid tones are a combination of blending or hatching (veiling).

-“I like to put the directional changes in the shadow shapes.”

-She will often put a little speck of white chalk highlight in order to key her values {again, advice worth the price of admission right here}.

-“If your drawing is failing it is because you are not obeying the light/dark patterns.”

-Ask yourself on the simplest of Master drawings, “What makes this really work?”. Dissect and understand it.

-Most of the drawing will be carried by the in-between places that are either smudged or hatched.

-Make sure the shadow pattern is correct, even on a smaller form like the eye. The big shapes still need to be rendered on the smaller forms. Same rules apply!

-If you know you don’t have time, stick to developing structure.

-She often veils in highlights on the planes of the forehead.

-Sargent spent all of his time on the structure and would throw his characteristic slap-dash bravura mark at the very last minute.

-If you don’t plan on rendering an area leave it as a block-in or else you will be forced to fully resolve it.

-Gesture is the foundation of a minimalist drawing.

-Take pictures every half hour, it will reveal your own process to you. It also works as a mirror to show you your mistakes.

Process shots from my drawing of James created during the second day of the workshop.


My completed drawing of James.

I want to personally thank Teresa for a wonderful workshop experience. Prior to this workshop, I never felt completely in control with Charcoal but I definitely feel more in control now and intend on practicing with it more often.

You can follow Teresa Oaxaca and her blog at her website, on Facebook at, on twitter and Instagram at @teresaoaxaca.





Suggested Reading: “Summer in February”

Munnings Alfred - The Morning Ride
“The Morning Ride”. Sir Alfred Munnings. Oil on canvas.

A recent trip to San Francisco allowed me the luxury of doing something I seldom do anymore, start a novel and finish it within one week. But this book, “Summer in February” by Jonathan Smith, about a community of artists living and working on the coast of West Cornwall during the last throes of the Edwardian era, had me in its spell from the very first chapter. The brightest star among them was the boisterous and infamous equestrian and landscape painter, Sir Alfred Munnings. It is the story of his ascent into the art world, and of his marriage to the budding artist Florence Carter-Wood. But it is not their romance, which is based on true events, that you pine for at the end of the novel. There is another storyline woven in here, both haunting and heartbreaking that has stayed with me ever since I put the book down. It is no wonder that the novel has already been turned into a movie. You can watch the movie for free if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber.

“My Horse Is My Friend: The Artist’s Wife and Isaac”. Sir Alfred Munnings. Oil on canvas. C 1922.
“Rosie and Hazel Buxton meeting the Dunston”. Sir Alfred Munnings. Oil on canvas.

Mastering Work Flow: Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

A while back I came across this amazing documentary of Master Sushi Chef Jiro Ono, owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant. I told anyone who would listen, especially artists, that they HAD to see this mind blowing film. You may be asking yourself now “what does a sushi master and an artist (or any other profession for that matter) have in common?” The answer is deceptively simple, mastery of one’s craft through a conscious and disciplined daily practice.

Right from start of the film, Jiro issues this edict: “Once you decide upon an occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

Jiro approaches his craft in the way of “Shokunin” (meaning artisan), the Shinto belief in executing everything perfectly, every single day, over an entire lifetime. Anything can be approached in the Shokunin way, no job is considered inferior or beneath oneself. The wisdom here is obvious and applicable to anyone’s life.

I kept having to stop the movie to take notes. Here is some more advice worth remembering:

“It really comes down to making an effort & repeating everyday”

“It has to be better than the last time. That is why I am always tasting during preparation”

“Each of our vendors are specialists in their field (i.e. surround yourself with excellence and use only the best materials)”

“All I want to do is make better sushi. I improve bit by bit, day after day and progress forward. But no one knows where the top is”

“In order to make delicious food you must eat delicious food (in other words, in order to make great paintings you must see great paintings)”

“Without good taste, you cannot make good food (educate your tastes)”

“If your taste is not better than your customers how will you impress them?”


Jiro Dreams of Sushi is available on DVD through Amazon and streaming via Netflix and ITunes.

Art Video Review: Donato Giancola’s “Joan of Arc”

Donato Giancola. “Joan of Arc”. Oil on panel.

This post is the first in a series of reviews of art videos I have in my personal collection.

Several months ago we made the decision to lose the extra cable box we had in our bedroom and use the bedroom TV to watch videos exclusively. Little did I know that this decision would lead to me being more productive & organized as I have taken to folding laundry while watching my many art DVDs. Before now, I never seemed to find the time to do either. Now it is something I dare say, I almost look forward to.

What sets Donato’s video apart from other art videos I have seen is that he shares his entire process from conceptualization (which includes thumbnail sketching), compositional design, historical research, photography of models and source materials to preparing a surface, underdrawing, underpainting and through all the stages of painting his large multi-figurative narrative piece, “Joan of Arc”. Joan of Arc by the way is one of my favorite saints because she is the patron saint of female bad assery. Donato is a much revered artist in the illustration and imaginative realism fields and has studied with some big names in the fine art world including Vincent Desiderio and Jerome Witkin. I think it is his unique perspective as an artist in these particularly deadline driven fields that has allowed him to create and hone such a strong working process which for me tends to be a bit of a moving target.

My favorite take aways are these:

-Use chroma shifts to help turn a form, not just value shifts. This was a timely nugget to absorb as I was able to use this technique a lot on my current portrait commission.
-Donato refers to his paint palette as his “mud pile” and will pre-mix all his colors along with all the chroma shifts possible prior to painting his subject.
-Keep a good book on anatomy handy as you model the form and constantly refer back to it for greater definition of the figure.
-Donato is constantly referencing a lot of Master painters and their paintings to help inform his painting such as Rubens, Van Dyck and Bouguereau which I found really inspiring.

To purchase Donato Giancola’s “Joan of Arc” click here. I highly recommend it.

Childe Hassam in Action, c. 1932

“Long Island Pebbles and Fruit,” by Childe Hassam, oil on wood panel, 23 1/2 by 56 1/2 inches, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, frame: stained and painted wood, designed and made by Childe Hassam, 1931

I came across this great little film on the About Last Night blog showing Childe Hassam at work on this painting in his studio in Long Island. It was produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1932.

It totally inspired my work in the studio this morning. I am so grateful to have found it. To see the film for yourself click here.

What are you painting?


I’m only about 9 hours into copying this hand study of a portrait by Gerard Soest at the National Gallery of Art here in Washington DC. The reaction to my copy by the public has been extremely entertaining and at times has had me in stitches, like today. I guess visitors are not used to seeing a person paint only a small portion of a painting in the collection, and the oval shape I chose to emphasize the dramatic swirl of the dress and the gesture of her hand is unexpected and definitely throwing people off. But what seems to be the icing on the proverbial cake is that it appears to people that I am not painting the picture in the right color. Um, what gives?!! [Insert Valley Girl tone here]

Well there are some really good reasons for all the choices I have made so far in regards to this painting. The first decision I made, that of doing only a hand study of the larger painting is because I only have the months of July & August to copy and I thought by narrowing my subject I could get more accomplished in that time. Second, the oval shape is an intentional decision as far as the composition. In addition, if I have more time, I will paint another oval of her other hand to have a matching pair. And lastly, the colors you see before you are just the underpainting known as a “grisaille”. The areas that are more grey are called a “closed grisaille” meaning they include white, plus the umber I used previously and prussian blue to achieve the overall modeling and value relationships. Those are the areas that I painted today. I will indeed get around to the actual color of the painting, eventually, in thin glazes of color. It is the way this painting was painted and since I am more of a direct painter, learning this technique is part of what drew me to the painting.

Below are some of the amusing things I have overheard/ or been asked directly while painting in order of frequency:

“What are you painting?” (Um, a hand and her dress….)

“Are you trying to paint abstractly?” (Yes, actually. A strong abstract design is the basis of all realistic painting)

“Dad, I don’t get itttt!” (Snicker)

“Esa mano esta horrible/That hand is horrible” (Said by someone who doesn’t know I speak Spanish. Ouch? 😉

I’ll end this post by saying that painting is a process that is sometimes not self evident. So hang in there with me, eventually you will be staring at the exact doppelganger of that hand. Just don’t hold your breath waiting.

The underpainting I began with today.
My copy at the end of the day showing the first areas to receive the “closed grisaille”.


Technique Tuesday: David Cheifetz Workshop Notes

David Cheifetz's knife painting demo from our workshop.
David Cheifetz’s knife painting demo & palette from our workshop.

“Paint with paint”

The mantra most frequently uttered by the masterful David Cheifetz at the 3 day painting workshop I recently participated in was simply, “Paint with paint”. And David really meant it. In his demos his brush or palette knife was always fully loaded with a glob of yummy paint every single time he touched his canvas. We quickly discovered that he wanted each of us to do the same.

It was such a frequent utterance that fellow painter J Lyndon Douglas cheekily observed, “Amazing that paintings are made with paint. I think what I have been producing until now could be called smudgings.” After laughing and probably snorting at his statement, I realized that J was really on to something. To see the amount of paint David Cheifetz skillfully uses while painting is a true revelation. Anything less just looks flat & lifeless in comparison. It has me very much rethinking how much paint I use in my own paintings, or smudgings as J would say.

Here are my personal notes from the workshop to share with you all. Many of these concepts were new to me. Enjoy!:

-Emphasize the values in your primary subject and dilute them everywhere else. You want your darkest dark and your lightest light on your primary subject.

-When setting up a still life, contrast secondary objects by picking darker subjects against the light of your primary subject. Always think dark vs. light.

-Think groupings. Don’t scatter your subjects too much so or else they will compete against each other.

-“I always go for fear in a painting. If you are uncomfortable about something in your painting that is a good thing, it pushes you. Try to have at least one thing in each painting that makes you feel that way.”

-Before you start a painting get a clear mental picture of what you want to paint. Sit, stare at it. Imagine it completely in your head the composition, area of focus, values and edges. Then begin to paint, and only then.

-Think surface/fabric. Do the folds add to your area of focus? If not take them out. Simplify.

-Make sure the light is directed on your primary subject.

-Example: When painting a ball of yarn, subdue any strings that leave the main form (skein). It should not compete with the ball of yarn itself.

-Example: Killing an apple (secondary object). Subdue it by not rendering it as well, more flat. Subdue chroma, value, everything.

-Your set up (composition) is just a tool for your narrative. Don’t feel chained to it if it is not right.

-Cheifetz prefers to paint small. Mostly 9 x 12, 8 x 10 or 11 x 14.

-He sets his palette up from transparent colors to opaque. His colors include (but not in order): ivory black, phthalo blue, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium red, cadmium orange, burnt umber, raw umber, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium lemon and titanium white.

-You want your lights to be painted in mostly opaque colors because they attract the most light rays visually.

-Begin your under drawing by getting in the abstract shape of the shadows.

-Indicates the table line. Positions objects within the composition by making vertical and horizontal marks.

-He prefers compositions that are eye level. They elevate ordinary objects by bringing it to a “human scale”.

-He prefers to paint on a dry panel (no oiling in).

-Use enough medium to be able to draw. Prefers Gamblin’s Megilp.

-A tip on drawing straight vertical lines by hand: Make micro adjustments back and forth as you lay down the line. The overall impression will be a straight line.

-Jumps right into massing the objects & shadows (like an open grissaile). He immediately moves into his lights with color (direct painting) working first on the highlight of his main subject and moving out from there.

The early stage of David Cheifetz's knife painting demo.
The early stage of David Cheifetz’s knife painting demo. Notice how he has left the drawing of the kettle on the right rather simple & unfinished? He allows areas like that to melt into the background as the painting develops.

-Put one or two generous strokes of paint before changing colors. PAINT WITH PAINT!

-Paint your backgrounds as lovingly as your objects.

-Lays his color down with filberts in long tiles.

-When painting a portrait, pick your area of focus and then let everything else melt out.

-Begin your painting with your subject and end it there.

I want to personally thank our host for the workshop, artist Tricia Ratliff of Agile Arts Atelier for conceiving this workshop and inviting me to participate. And thanks above all to David Cheifetz for his exceptional instruction and the individual attention he gave to each of us. I’d like to also add that David hosts his own awesome podcasts called The Impasto Logs that are all about painting and are especially wonderful to listen to when painting, or smudging.

“Annabel”, oil on panel. 16 ” x 20″. Private collection. Artist, David Cheifetz.